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How to Get Rid of a Renter

Don't Let Your Tenant Win! Evict Him While Protecting Your Legal Rights

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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 evict because no landlord should have to put up with a nightmare tenant.

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How to Formally Evict Someone

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.

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Give the Tenant a Formal Eviction Notice

When you are ready to evict, start with a formal written notice. Most states require just one kind of notice, but some states, including California, dictate a particular type of notice depending on the reason for the eviction.

No matter what kind of eviction notice it is, you must place it on the tenant's door and send it via certified mail with proof of receipt.

Generally the 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.), usually within three to 10 days from the day of service

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.

renters rights

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.

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.

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renters rights

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. When this happens, the eviction process can quickly become messy and expensive.

Get Help

If you cannot get rid of your renter on your own and need legal help, then it is time to talk to a knowledgable lawyer who can help you protect your rights.

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