Tenant Eviction Process
If your reading this you are either curious about things that can go wrong or you are in a situation where you may have to evict a tenant. The first thing you should do is take stock of the situation. There are rare cases when a good tenant becomes a bad tenant (e.g. change in health, loss of job, etc.). If your tenant is chronically late, it is probably time to evict. How did you get in this situation? Are you properly screening your tenants? If your property is in a neighborhood that is not attracting good tenants you may need to focus on section 8 tenants.
This is the side of the business you did not sign up for; this is supposed to be an investment not a charity, right? If your tenant has been a good but has a legitimate problem can you work with the tenant to resolve the situation? Remember you dealing people that are helping you pay for the property you own. You may want to give them some time, a few weeks if it is a temporary set back, although your not obligated. Hopefully you have their last month rent, you could let them use this if you think they can recover. Remember to always act with in the law. I have heard of stories where the landlord takes off the front door. If you find yourself tempted to do something crazy you may not be cut out to be a landlord.
There is a process for evicting a tenant. Each county is different, so be aware of the process. In general you have two options, one is the use a service to handle the eviction, the second is to handle it yourself. I recommend the second, it is good to know the process and it will save you some money too. Using the service will usually cost you somewhere north of $1000. The process itself will usually take 45 to 60 days, but this will vary for state to state.
Three Day Notice
The first step is to serve the tenant a 3-day notice. This should be served after the rent due date and the grace period if there is one. Keep copies of the 3-day notice, as you will need this when you get to the next phase. You can either serve it to the tenant or post it at the residence. Make sure the three-day notice is accurate (e.g. tenants names correct as per the lease and dates).
After three full days have passed, you can start the paperwork for the complaint for tenant eviction. This involves going down to the local courthouse for the county the property resides and filling out paperwork in triplicate. I suggest getting the paperwork ahead of time and start filling it out at home. You will need copies of the lease. If the tenant is going month to month you will use the original contract. Again, make should everything is filled out correctly and accurate, you don’t want anything contested or kicked back.
Submit the paperwork after the 3-day notice period has elapsed. There will be fees to submit the Complaint for tenant eviction forms. The tenant will receive these papers and will have time to respond in writing. If they do not respond a judgment will be rendered for removal of tenant. If they do respond the judge will determine if there is any grounds in favor of the tenant, and will deem the next action.
After you receive the final judgment for removal of tenant. You will need to go back to the courthouse and fill out paperwork for the removal of the tenant this will be submitted to the sheriff’s department for the county the property resides. Again there are fees that must be paid, make sure all paperwork is correct and accurate (i.e. this will prevent further delays). The sheriffs office will contact you will a date for removal. When the sheriff removes the tenant, they usually are only given a few minutes to collect any personal belonging before being removed.
The eviction will be recorded in the local county courthouse and will, ensure that this comes up on background check on the tenants. I like to keep the tenants informed as to the process, steps and ramifications. I don’t see this as an adversarial situation, they can’t pay and usually I give them a chance before starting the eviction process.
Eviction Process State by State
For more about the eviction process in your state click here.