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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 demands a wide range of abilities, one of which is knowing when and how to evict a renter. Overall, knowing when and how to evict a tenant allows you to be a responsible and lawful landlord while also safeguarding tenant rights and keeping a happy landlord-tenant relationship.

Understanding Just Cause

One of the first things all landlords should understand is that eviction is a legal process that requires a court order to remove a tenant from your property. Understanding the legal grounds for eviction allows you to follow through with the regulations that govern landlord-tenant relationships at the municipal, state, and federal levels. Evicting a renter without appropriate legal grounds may result in legal consequences such as fines or litigation.

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 ensure that you adhere to the terms of your lease and any applicable state and local laws.

Property damage is an additional common cause of eviction. If your tenant has caused extensive property damage that exceeds normal wear and tear, you can serve them with a written notice requiring them to repair the damage or vacate the premises. If the tenant does not comply, you may initiate eviction proceedings.

Other grounds for eviction include the tenant’s violation of other lease provisions. If your lease prohibits pets and your tenant has one, you can give them formal notice to remove the animal or vacate the premises. If the tenant does not comply, you may initiate eviction proceedings. The same applies to all other lease conditions.

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

There are a few processes you must take if you find yourself in the position of needing to evict a tenant. To begin, you must serve the tenant with a written notice outlining the reasons for the eviction as well as the date by which they must depart the premises. The following step is to file an eviction petition with the court and serve the renter. You may be able to obtain a default judgment in your favor if the renter fails to show for their court date. Finally, if the tenant continues to refuse to leave the premises, you may be able to have the legal authority in your area remove them.

While it is never easy to evict a tenant, it is sometimes essential. You’ll reduce legal risks and encourage a fair and pleasant living environment for all parties involved if you understand why you can (and cannot) evict a renter, as well as the stages involved in the eviction process.


If you are facing an eviction, you should get counsel from a property management professional. Contact your local Real Property Management office immediately to speak with a rental property expert!

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