As a landlord, you know that your tenant, not your property, is your greatest asset — without them, you don’t make any money. Most of the time, your most pressing concern as a property owner is going to be to make sure your tenants are happy.
Happy tenants renew their leases, and less tenant turnover means a more stable business overall.
But you may also be wondering:
In these situations, you may need to consider evicting your tenant.
You might consider evicting a tenant if they:
Suggested Reading: Top Reasons to Evict a Tenant
If the scenario isn’t urgent, the best first step is usually to start by having a conversation with your tenant. It’s worth seeing if you can resolve the situation without legal action.
If an in-person conversation can’t fix the situation, the next step is to send your tenant an eviction notice.
There are three broad types of eviction notices:
Note: If you accept a partial payment after serving this notice, you cannot evict your tenant unless you serve a new notice to quit with the remaining amount owed. That means that if they fail to pay the remainder of the amount owed, you will not be able to default to the original pay or quit notice served — you will have to start the process over. While it’s up to you whether or not you accept partial payments, we generally suggest requiring payment in full to avoid delays.
Your state also likely has laws governing how to serve your eviction notice. For example, in Texas, landlords have four options:
In general, it’s a good idea to deliver the letter to your tenant in person. If you cannot reach your tenant, you can send the letter by certified mail, or post it to your tenant’s door.
Even if a tenant violates your lease, you can’t change their locks, remove their belongings, shut off utilities, or force them to leave the property. Doing so is illegal and is sometimes referred to as a “self-help eviction”.
Suggested Reading: My Tenant is Not Paying Rent—What Do I Do?
After serving your eviction notice, here’s how you handle filing your eviction.
First, your tenant will have a set number of days to remedy the issue. If they don’t, you can formally file for eviction at your city or county courthouse. Bring a copy of your lease, all relevant documents, and your tenant’s contact information.
Next, the court will determine if the eviction case is valid.
If they determine your case is valid, the court will serve your tenant a summons for a hearing. You and your tenant will be expected to attend that court hearing to discuss the matter before a judge.
Be aware that once you have filed for eviction for non-payment of rent, if you accept any payments from your tenant, the eviction case must be dismissed.
If your tenant is a member of the Housing Choice Voucher Program, commonly called “Section 8,” you must notify your local housing authority of the eviction and request that any subsidy payments be put on hold and that nothing is mailed to you until the case or trial is over. Because accepting any payment during the eviction process nullifies it, this is a very important step.
At your eviction hearing, be sure to bring anything that you believe proves you have a valid reason to evict your tenant. You will have the opportunity to show this evidence to the judge. If they attend, your tenant will also have a chance to refute your reasons for eviction.
In general, it’s a good idea to bring the following to your court hearing:
If you win your eviction case, the judge will set forth a specific amount of time in which your tenant must completely move out of the property. If your tenant still hasn’t moved out within that time frame, you can hire the local sheriff to remove them from the property.
Suppose your tenant leaves behind their belongings in the process. In that case, you must follow state laws regarding abandoned property. These laws may require you to give your tenant notice of the abandoned property. They also may regulate how you must store abandoned property and how you must dispose of it if tenants don’t claim their belongings.
If you are evicting your tenant because of missed rent payments or damage to the property, the judge in your eviction hearing may assign a specific amount of money that the tenant owes you.
If the tenant doesn’t pay you this amount, you can file a lawsuit against them in small claims court. Unfortunately, it may be more cost-effective to cut your losses than to pay the legal and court fees involved in a lawsuit.
Eviction is sometimes unavoidable. Even if you’re a great landlord, it is still possible to encounter a tenant problem that will lead to eviction. The best way to prevent a situation where you have to evict your tenant is to ensure you’re taking a disciplined approach to screening potential tenants.
If all this talk of evictions and legalities has convinced you of working with professionals who can handle the marketing and screening process for you, get in touch! We review all candidates with our approval criteria to find you an excellent tenant. And for all new landlords, we guarantee that we’ll get your home rented in 21 days, or else your first two months of management are free.
Spencer is the VP of Marketing at Evernest. He wakes up with Google and Facebook on his mind. Having bought and sold over 150 homes in Birmingham, Spencer gets a kick out of helping new and seasoned investors navigate the mistakes he made as an investor. Spencer is also passionate about his love for Michael Jordan and does his best to explain to the Millennials (who never saw him play live) how much better he was than LeBron. He loves to hang out with his wife, kids, and the world’s best black lab, Jett.