Even with the best tenants, you always run into the possibility of an eviction. If you are considering an eviction, you need to know how to go about it and what to expect through the process. Before you get started, be sure to read this guide. It is important to note that the specific laws may vary depending on your state or local laws, so be sure to check them to ensure you are acting according to law.
For some landlords, the idea of starting an eviction may be scary, especially if you like your tenants for the most part. As a landlord, however, you need to know that managing your rentals is part of the business and, if necessary, so is an eviction. It is nothing personal, so you need to take your personal feelings out of the potential eviction in order for it to be successful. This is the type of mindset you must have in order to push the eviction along. Otherwise, you may end up sidetracked with an eviction that is taking much longer than it should. Eviction may seem like it is harsh, but if the tenants are not paying rent, it is something that is necessary.
Even though you may think that it will be easier to simply evict tenants without going through the necessary steps, it is illegal in all states to do a self-help eviction. You must follow the rules and regulations in your state. Some examples of things you cannot do without going through the necessary legal steps include:
You will need to go through with the eviction process in order to remove the tenants from your property even if you think it may be easier and faster to do things without following the rules.
You cannot evict someone just because you do not like them. Before you start the eviction process, you need to ensure that you have a legal and valid reason for the eviction or you may find that the judge will not rule in your favor. Some common reasons that are enough to begin the eviction process include:
Even if you do have a situation that falls within one of these categories, you will need to have documented proof before you can do anything. Make sure you document everything so that you can back your case up in the court room.
If you do have a situation that meets one of those categories and you have proof of it, then you can officially start the eviction process. To do that, the first thing you will have to do is provide the tenants with a formal eviction notice. In most states, this is the first part of the legal eviction procedure. You will need to look at your local laws to determine how many days' notice you need to provide to the tenants. This formal eviction notice is usually a document that is fairly simple in nature. It will provide the tenants with an ultimatum that will require them to fix the issue in order to avoid the eviction. For example, if they are behind on rent, the notice would detail that you need to receive the full rental amount in a set amount of days in order to avoid eviction. When you are creating your eviction notice, these are a few things to keep in mind:
Once you have sent the eviction notice, the ball is in their court. In some cases, this may be enough for them to take care of the issue or move out. In fact, there are many evictions that never have to move past this point because they are fixed by the tenant after the notice has been delivered. However, this is not always the case. If nothing has changed since the eviction notice was sent and the deadline provided to the tenants has come and gone, then your next step is to file the eviction with your local courts.
If you do have to move forward with the eviction process, you will need to go to your local courthouse to file. Typically, you will have to pay a fee to file the eviction; the amount for the fee will depend on your local courthouse. Once you have filed, the clerk may or may not immediately give you a court date. You may have to wait for the court notice to be mailed to you directly. The court will also notify the tenant for you in the form of a summons.
When you go to file, your local courthouse may also require that you provide them with proof that you have given the tenant the proper amount of time with the eviction notice according to your state laws. This is where you will provide them with your certified mail receipt. After you have filed for the eviction, all you will have to do is prepare for and attend the court hearing where you will meet in front of the judge with the tenant to determine the outcome.
Before you head into the hearing, you will need to prepare all of the documentation you will need to prove your case. At the very basic level, you will need the following documents:
You may need some other items depending on your reasoning for the evictions. Typically, if a tenant comes to the court hearing, they will try to do everything to prove their innocence, and you need to ensure that you have everything you need to prove your case. If you are unsure of whether you will need something, bring it anyway just in case. You will be thankful that you have it even if you do not need it as opposed to not having it and needing it for the court case.
Do your homework before you go to the hearing and be prepared for anything that the tenant may throw at you.
Going to court can be stressful, so you should do everything you can to ensure you are as prepared as possible. Always be honest and let the documentation that you bring do all of the talking for you.
If the court case is ruled in your favor, there will be a court order for the tenant to vacate the property in a set amount of days. This is something that comes straight from the court and both you and the tenant will be provided a copy of the ruling. If the tenant does not show up in court, some judges may automatically rule in your favor, so it is always a good idea to go even if you think they may not come. The amount of time that the tenant is given to leave the property may vary, but it can range depending on your local laws from 48 hours to 7 full days. Either way, the end is in sight.
If they have not left by the date on the court order, you can then have someone from your local Sheriff's department physically come and escort them and all of their belongings out of the property. In some areas, you may have to pay a crew to meet the Sheriff so that the removal from the property is fairly fast and efficient. This is another cost that will have to be paid by you as the landlord. After the Sheriff has transferred possession of the property back to you, you may want to change the locks—also at your own expense—so they cannot get back into the property later. At this point, the eviction process is completed in full and you should have your property back so you can rent it out again.
Since failure to pay rent on time or at all is a common reason that people are evicted from properties, there are some local courts that will allow you to file for eviction as well as a small claims suit at the same time. However, if you are not allowed to do this, typically on the court order for the tenant to leave, there will be a component that mentions exactly how much money is owed to the landlord and when it should be repaid. This is called a judgment. If you do not get this money from the tenant, you do have a few options to still get your money.
Evictions can be very stressful for all parties involved. Once you go through it for the first time as a landlord, you will want to take extra steps in order to prevent it from happening again in the future. While there is no way you can completely eliminate the possibility of eviction for one of your tenants, you can greatly reduce the probability of it happening by conducting background checks and credit checks for all applicants and thoroughly checking references. While it may cost you a little bit more in the beginning, it will save you a lot of time and money from pursuing an eviction later.
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