If you find yourself stuck with a terrible tenant, you might want to dump them out on the street on the spot. However, landlords and tenants are considered to be equal parties to a lease, and both have rights. Be sure to follow the proper procedures if you find yourself needing to evict a tenant.
Don’t Lock Them Out
The first and most important rule is to never take the law into your own hands. Don’t change the locks, don’t turn off the power and water, and don’t try to harass the tenant out. Any of these things could lead to you having to pay them and might make a judge sympathize with them in eviction proceedings.
Give Notice With a Deadline
Is the rent late? Are they violating a term of the lease? Send a written letter by certified mail stating the deadline to pay the rent and late fees or cure the lease violation. Most jurisdictions require prior notice, and even if notice isn’t required, the fact that you gave the tenant a chance to correct the problem will help you if you later end up in court because they didn’t.
Don’t Accept Later Payments if You Want Them Out
If a tenant misses your deadline to pay their back rent, don’t later accept payment from them if you still want them out. It may legally entitle them to stay in the rental unit. Instead, proceed with the eviction, and file a lawsuit against them for any money they owe after they are out.
Go to Court
If a tenant hasn’t fixed the issue by your deadline, you’ll need to go to court to get them out. An eviction is a lawsuit for the return of your property. Bring the lease and any other proof of the lease violations each time you go to court. You’ll be required to have the tenant served with notice of the proceedings, and the judge will give both sides a chance to present their case. If the judge sides with you, they will grant an order of eviction giving the tenant a final deadline to leave.
Have the Sheriff Remove Them
In most cases, the tenant will leave However, some will continue to try to stay in your rental unit. If this happens, don’t change the locks or dump their stuff out even if local law allows you to. You don’t know if they’ll react violently. Instead, have the local sheriff physically remove them. If they won’t, at least ask them to come out for security while you remove the tenant.