Every landlord seeks tenants that pay rent on time, never complain, and who renew their lease agreement every year. In reality, this ideal landlord-tenant relationship is difficult to find. Most landlords will have to deal with a tenant eviction at some point. There are five common reasons why tenants get evicted.
- Non-payment of rent
- Habitual late payment of rent
- Damage to the property
- Disrupting other tenants
Every state has unique laws on tenant eviction. Therefore, you must check your state’s landlord-tenant law to find out how and when you can file to recover possession in your state. You must always have “just” or “good” cause to file for an eviction.
1. Eviction for Non-Payment of Rent
By nature, a tenant pays a landlord an agreed amount of money to occupy a dwelling for a set period of time. The tenant signs a lease agreement and must abide by the terms of this lease. The most basic responsibility of a tenant under this lease agreement is to pay rent. If the tenant does not pay their monthly rent, they are in violation of the lease agreement.
State laws differ regarding the eviction process for reasons of unpaid rent. In some states, you can initiate the eviction process immediately. In other states, you must first send the tenant a Notice to Pay Rent or Quit.
A Notice to Pay Rent or Quit informs the tenant that they have not paid rent, and it indicates the amount they owe. It lets them know that if they do not remedy the situation immediately, you will file for an eviction. You should also be aware that there are certain situations where a tenant is legally allowed to withhold rent, for example, until a health or safety violation at the property is remedied.
2. Habitual Late Payment of Rent
In most states, not only can you file to evict a tenant for non-payment of rent, but you can also file for an eviction if the tenant habitually pays their rent late. The exact terms, such as how many days qualify as late rent, varies by state.
Before you can file for the eviction, you must first send the tenant a Notice to Quit. This Notice must be sent, in some cases, as much as a month before you can file for an eviction. It lets the tenant know they must pay their rent on time or you will file for an eviction. If the tenant makes another late payment after receiving this Notice to Quit, you can then file for the eviction.
3. Damage to the Property
If the tenant damages the property, you can file for an eviction. This damage must be in excess of normal wear and tear on the property. An example of normal wear and tear would be a couple of stains on a carpet. An example of excessive damage could be a tenant putting a large hole through an exterior wall.
The damage must be intentionally caused by the tenant or by their gross negligence. If the tenant does damage the property, they may agree or volunteer to pay to fix the damage. It is then up to you if you want to accept the payment or if you want to go ahead with eviction proceedings. You must file a Notice to Quit before you can initiate eviction proceedings.
4. Disrupting Other Tenants
If the tenant is creating a disturbance and interfering with the quiet and peaceful enjoyment of the other tenants in the building, you can file for an eviction. Again, you must first present the tenant with a Notice to Quit.
In the Notice to Quit, you must specify the behavior in question whether it be playing loud music or other disrupting behavior. If the tenant continues the behavior after receiving the Notice to Quit, you can file for the eviction.
If the tenant refuses to move out after their lease has ended, you can file for an eviction. Many leases automatically switch to month-to-month leases after the initial lease term has ended. In this case, you must present the tenant with a Notice to Quit, which explains that they have “x” number of days, usually between 30 and 60 days, to move out of the property or you will file for an eviction.
The information contained in this article is not legal advice and is not a substitute for such advice. State and federal laws change frequently, and the information in this article may not reflect your own state’s laws or the most recent changes to the law. For current legal advice, please consult with an accountant or an attorney.