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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.To be a successful landlord takes a variety of talents, one of which is knowing when and how to evict a tenant. If you want to be a successful landlord, you need to have these skills. In general, if you want to be a responsible and lawful landlord while simultaneously protecting tenant rights and keeping a pleasant landlord-tenant relationship, you need to have a solid understanding of the circumstances under which you can and cannot evict a tenant.

Understanding Just Cause

One of the first things all property owners should realize is that eviction is a legal process that requires a court order to remove the tenant from your property. Understanding the legal grounds for eviction allows you to comply with local, state, and federal regulations that govern landlord-tenant relationships. Without adequate legal grounds, evicting a renter might result in legal consequences such as fines or lawsuits.

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.

Property damage is another typical reason for eviction. If your tenant has caused serious damage to the property that goes beyond regular wear and tear, you can serve them with a written notice requiring them to remedy the damage or depart the property. If the tenant fails to comply, you may file for eviction.

Other reasons for evicting a tenant include breaching other terms of their lease. If your tenant has a pet and your contract prohibits pets, you can issue them formal notice to remove the pet or depart the property. If the tenant fails to comply, you may file for eviction. The same is true for all other lease terms.

Reasons You Cannot Evict

Even if a renter has done something that would seem to warrant eviction, there are a few more reasons why you can’t evict. For example, you cannot remove a tenant because they have requested that you make repairs to the property or have complained about the rental unit’s circumstances. Furthermore, you cannot evict a tenant because of their race, color, religion, national origin, gender, familial situation, or disability. These protected classifications cannot lawfully be used as the reason for an eviction, and attempting to do so may result in a discrimination lawsuit.

Carrying Out an Eviction

If you have to kick out a roommate, there are a few steps you must take. First, you have to give the renter a written notice that tells them why they are being kicked out and when they have to leave. The next step is to file a case with the court to get rid of the tenant and have it served on them. If the renter doesn’t show up to court, you may be able to get what’s called a “default judgment” in your favor. Lastly, if the renter still won’t leave, you might be able to have the authorities in your area take them away.

Even though it’s never easy, sometimes you have to kick out a roommate. By knowing why you can remove a renter and when you can’t, as well as the steps in the eviction process, you’ll reduce your legal risks and create a fair and polite living situation for everyone.


If you think you might be kicked out of your home, you might want to talk to an expert in property management for help. Talk to a local rental property expert at your local Real Property Management office today.

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