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Tenant Eviction: The Do’s and Don’ts

Eviction notice on door of house with brass door knob. Fictitious address, ID, signature and 555 phone number for fictional usage.Being a successful landlord knowledge of when and how to evict a tenant is one of the many talents needed to be a successful landlord. In sum, being a responsible and lawful landlord requires an awareness of when and why you can and cannot evict a tenant in order to protect tenant rights and keep the landlord-tenant relationship amicable.

Understanding Just Cause

The first thing any landlord needs to know is that evicting a tenant is a legal process that ends with a court order. If you own property and wish to evict a tenant, you must be familiar with the applicable state and federal laws governing landlord-tenant interactions in order to do so. Evicting a tenant without proper legal grounds could lead to fines or even a lawsuit.

To evict a tenant, you must have what is known as “just cause.” Just cause eviction statutes require that you have a legal justification to evict the tenant, such as nonpayment of rent, property damage, or violation of the lease terms. You cannot evict a tenant unless you have just cause.

Reasons You Can Evict

Nonpayment of rent is one of the most prevalent reasons landlords evict tenants. If your renter fails to pay their rent on time, you can issue them formal notice that they have a set number of days to pay or vacate the property, as required by state law. If the tenant fails to comply, you may file for eviction. Just make sure you respect the conditions of your lease as well as any state and municipal laws that may apply.

Damage to the landlord’s property is another common trigger for an eviction. A written notice to repair or vacate can be sent to a tenant if they have caused significant damage to the property beyond normal wear and tear. Tenant noncompliance is grounds for eviction.

Tenant violations of other lease provisions are also grounds for eviction. If your lease explicitly forbids tenants to have dogs, you can serve notice requiring them to do so. Tenant noncompliance is grounds for eviction. The same holds true for any additional clauses in the lease.

Reasons You Cannot Evict

It’s not always possible to evict a tenant, even if they’ve committed a serious offense. You cannot evict a renter only because they have made a few requests for maintenance or have voiced some concerns about the condition of the rental unit. You also can’t kick someone out of your rental unit because of who they are or what they believe in, or because of their gender, race, religion, nationality, family status, or disability. A discrimination lawsuit could result from trying to evict someone on the basis of one of these protected characteristics.

Carrying Out an Eviction

If you find yourself in the position of having to evict a tenant, you must adhere to a number of procedures. First, you must provide the tenant with a written notice outlining the reasons for the eviction and the date by which they must vacate the premises. Next, an eviction petition must be filed with the court and the lessee must be served. You may be able to obtain a default judgment if the lessee fails to appear in court on the scheduled date. If the tenant still refuses to vacate the property, you may be able to have the local authorities remove them.

Although eviction is never simple, it is sometimes necessary. By understanding why you can (and cannot) evict a tenant, as well as the stages of the eviction procedure, you will reduce legal risks and foster a fair and courteous living environment for all parties.


If you are facing the possibility of eviction, you may wish to seek the counsel of a property management professional. Contact your local Real Property Management office immediately to speak with a local rental property expert.

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