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How to Evict a Tenant and Protect Your Legal Rights
Do you have a tenant who never pays his rent on time or is damaging your property? Perhaps you have a roommate who does not help pay expenses or is involved in illegal activity?
If so, then it's time to protect your right and evict because no landlord should have to put up with a nightmare tenant.
The Eviction Process
Each state has its own laws, but generally, formally evicting someone, whether a tenant in rental property or roommate in your home, involves several basic steps.
Give the Tenant a Formal Eviction Notice
When you are ready to evict, start with a formal written notice. Place it on the tenant's door and send it via certified mail with proof of receipt.
Generally this notice must include:
1.The date of the notice
2. The offense committed by the tenant
3. The timeframe in which the tenant must remedy the problem (pay the back rent, get rid of the dog, cease the criminal activity, etc.). This is usually within three to 10 days from the day you post the eviction notice.
4. The landlord's signature
Sometimes this formal notice is all it takes to make a bad renter decide to pack up and go. Or your renter might fix the stated problem within the given timeframe, saving you both the hassle of an eviction proceeding.
File with the Court
If, however, your renter does not fix the problem and still refuses to vacate, then you must file for eviction with your county court. This involves filling out some paperwork and paying a fee. Each state has its own form, which can usually be located online, and fee amount.
The court then sets a hearing date and sends you and your tenant a summons to appear.
Appear in Court
Make sure you gather all relevant documents - a copy of the lease, any bounced checks, the eviction notice and proof of receipt, any text, email or written communications, etc. - and bring them to court with you.
You want as much documation as possible to support your case.
There is always a chance that your tenant will not show up for the court date. If that happens, then the court will enter an eviction judgement in your favor.
If your renter does appear and the hearing proceeds, tell the judge why your tenant should be evicted. Stay calm and present a clear, reasoned argument. Be prepared to rebut whatever your tenant might claim.
If the court sides with you and issues an eviction order, then your tenant has a set number of days, usually between two and seven, to vacate your property.
Call the Sheriff
If your tenant still refuses to leave, then you can call the sheriff. He will forcibly remove your renter and all of his or her belongings from the home.
Some Things to Keep in Mind
Evicting someone through the courts is how most landlords handle a bad tenant, but the formal eviction process can be somewhat tricky.
As the person doing the evicting, you must closely follow state and local laws. Failing to do so can lead to a nightmare worse than just having an awful tenant.
For example, while you might think that you have legitimate grounds for wanting your renter gone, your renter might think he has legitimate grounds for staying and file a counter claim to your eviction notice.
He might argue that you have not provided a habitable home, are evicting him in retaliation or that you are discriminating against him based on his sex, national origin, familial status, race, ancestry, disability, sexual orientation, color, creed or marital status, violating both state and federal fair housing laws.
The bottom line is that a tenant can defend his right to stay in his home, and many do. When this happens, the eviction process can quickly become messy and expensive.
Contact Us for Help!
If you cannot get rid of your renter on your own and need legal, then it is time to talk to a legal professional who can help.
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