Use a Writ of Possession to Get a Tenant Out

Forceful Move Out

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What Is a Writ of Possession?

A writ of possession is an order issued by a court of law which allows a person or group to take possession of real property by forcing the person or group currently in possession of the property out. It is commonly used after a landlord wins an eviction lawsuit against a tenant. A writ of possession can also be known as a writ of eviction

The court has ruled in favor of the landlord and the tenant no longer has the right to live in the rental property because he or she has violated their lease agreement. The tenant must move so that the landlord can rent out the rental unit again.


A writ of possession was issued after Bob won an eviction lawsuit against his tenant, Mary. Mary has three days to move out of the rental property. If she does not move, a writ of restitution will be ordered. 

Writ of Restitution

A tenant will usually be given a certain number of days after a writ of possession has been issued to move out of the rental property on their own accord. If the tenant does not move out willingly, he or she will forcibly be removed from the premises.

The landlord can request a writ of restitution. The U.S. Marshall or Sheriff will post notice on the tenant's door, giving them a certain amount of time to remove their possessions and to vacate the premises. The amount of time given will vary by state and city, however, 24 to 48 hours to vacate is common. If the tenant does not move out by the deadline, the sheriff or other law enforcement official will forcibly remove the tenant from the property and lock them out.

Evicting a Tenant

Tenants will not always follow the terms of their lease agreement. When a tenant violates their lease and does not respond to a notice to quit the behavior, as a landlord, in order to get a tenant to move out of their rental, you sometimes have to file with the court to evict the tenant.

  • Nonpayment of Rent- This is the most common reason to evict a tenant. Paying rent is one of a tenant's most basic obligations, and if the tenant is not fulfilling this obligation, the landlord has the right to get them to move.
  • Continually Paying Rent Late- In  many states, consistently paying rent late is a reason you can file to evict a tenant. For rent to be considered late, the rent would have to be paid after any grace period that the state law requires or that the landlord has included in the lease. 
  • Damaging the Property- If a tenant causes significant damage to the property, you can file for an eviction. The court will examine the evidence to determine if this damage is in excess of normal wear and tear.
  • Disrupting the Peace of Other Tenants- Landlord have the right to evict tenants who are constantly bothering other tenants in the building. The landlord will usually have to serve the tenant with at least one notice to quit the behavior before being allowed to file for an eviction.
  • Using the Property for Illegal Purposes- Illegal use of the property is another valid reason for eviction. For example, if a tenant decides to run a hair salon out of their apartment, the landlord can file to get the tenant to move. This is because the apartment is zoned for residential use only and the tenant is trying to use it for a business.

    Screening Tenants to Avoid Eviction

    One way to help prevent costly evictions is to have thorough tenant screening procedures. This tenant screening involves asking the right questions and running the right checks. You may have to pay to run a credit or background check, but this amount of money will be far less than all of the costs associated with placing the wrong tenant in the property and having to evict them.

    You should ask about:

    • Expected Move-In Date
    • Number of People Living in the Apartment
    • Yearly Income
    • If They Have Any Rental Assistance, Such As Section 8
    • Whether They Have Any Pets

    The checks you should run include:

    • A Background Check
    • A Credit Check
    • A Check to Verify Employment
    • Calling Former Landlords to Inquire About History of Evictions