The need to evict a problem tenant is a reality that landlords hope they never face, but unfortunately, it’s a potential reality of renting out property. Of course, using professional tenant screening can help with vetting applicants to increase the odds of avoiding a problem tenant.
However, if and when the need to evict arises, there are some specific steps and processes to use in order to enact the eviction legally. Not doing so can pave the way for a tenant to take legal action.
The first step is for the landlord to terminate tenancy in compliance with state statute. This usually involves giving the renter written notice of impending eviction. If the tenant does not pay rent or become compliant with the lease, a lawsuit to evict can then be filed. Again, each state differs on the specifics, and it is important to take this action in compliance with the law. In most states, there are three basic termination of tenancy notices that landlords can use:
1. The Pay Rent or Quit Notice
This type of notice applies to tenants who have not paid their rent. The landlord typically gives the tenant three to five days to become current, or they will be evicted.
2. The Cure or Quit Notice
This type of notice is given if a tenant is in violation of a lease term or condition, such as not having pets or refraining from playing loud music. With this type of notice, the tenant is typically given a set amount of time to correct the issue. If they do not comply, they can be served a lawsuit for eviction.
3. An Unconditional Quit Notice
This type of motion is the most severe. A problem tenant is in effect asked to vacate the rental unit immediately, with no chance to catch up on rent or rectify a violation. This type of notice is usually permitted if the renter has:
- Been late with the rent more than once
- Been in violation of the rental agreement clause repeatedly
- Has been engaged in illegal activity on the premises (like selling drugs)
- Has caused serious damage to the premises
Again, this can vary by state; some states allow the issuing of an unconditional quit notice for less severe infractions.
If the Problem Tenant Still Won’t Vacate
If a tenant ignores a notice and refuses to vacate, an unlawful detainer lawsuit may be filed. The summons and complaint for eviction must be properly served in compliance with the law for the state.
A tenant may also mount a defense, which can add weeks or months to the process. Landlords may not move or lock out a problem tenant, and each state has laws regarding the removal of property from the unit.
The eviction of a tenant is a headache that all landlords dread. Fortunately, professional tenant screening can assist with the screening of rental applicants to help reduce the odds of having this issue with a problem tenant.