Evicting a tenant is never pleasant, but sometimes it simply has to be done. If you have exhausted all you other options and need to evict a tenant, there are specific steps that you will need to take to ensure that the process goes smoothly.
- Is your documentation in order? Before evicting a tenant, you must have a paper trail substantiating the reason the eviction is taking place. This will be essential if a tenant contests the eviction, refuses to leave, or tries to file a discrimination or retaliatory eviction claim against you.
You should have the tenant’s initial rental application, their signed rental agreement, and a record of the incidents that led to your decision to evict the tenant. For example, if the tenant has repeatedly violated the rules of the building or the lease, you should have proof of each violation. If your tenant has not paid rent on time or has stopped paying the rent, document this also.
- Have you clearly stated why the tenant was being evicted in your notice? When you serve an eviction notice, you will need to provide your tenant with written notice of why they are being evicted. Make at least two copies of this notice: one for the tenant and one for your records.
- Have you inspected the property recently? Sometimes a tenant will trash a property to get back at a landlord. Before your tenant leaves the property, schedule and perform a walkthrough to observe the property. You will need to give your tenant at least 24 hours notice before proceeding with your walkthrough. Make careful notes of the condition of the dwelling and, if possible, take pictures of the current state of the property. This will assist you in withholding a security deposit for damages that occur when a tenant is evicted.
- Will your tenant get their security deposit back? If your property has been damaged, or if a tenant owes back rent, they may have forfeited their security deposit. Include a provision within your rental agreement about what will happen to this security deposit if these events occur. This will allow you to keep the deposit without any confusion.
- Do you need to have the police present for the serving of the eviction notice? If you have been threatened by your tenant, or you feel that you may be at risk, you may wish to involve your local police department when you serve the notice to evict. This will ensure that all parties are protected.
- Have you given the required amount of notice before proceeding with the eviction? This amount varies by state. The accepted period of time is 30 days from the date of the eviction notice to the last day of vacancy. However, some states only require 72 hours notice in the case of nonpayment of rent. Check your state laws before serving a notice to ensure that you are in compliance.
- Does your eviction notice comply with state and local laws. Eviction notices should be drafted exactly as required by law. Failure to do so might invalidate your eviction attempt.
- Have you completed the post-eviction walkthrough? Once your tenant has vacated, you will need to perform another walkthrough on the property. Utilize your previous walkthrough notes and pictures to assist you in determining the extent of damage, if any, and any changes to the rental property since your last walkthrough.
- Have you included all of the above information in your documentation? Now is not the time to stop keeping records on your evicted tenant. Add a copy of the eviction notice, your walkthrough checklists and photographs, and any other pertinent information to the file. This may be useful in the event that a tenant tries to make a delayed claim for wrongful eviction. Hold on to this documentation for a minimum of three years.
A well organized eviction can be less stressful for everyone involved. As difficult as this is for you, it is not easy for your tenant either. Your tenant may react adversely when they realize they are being kicked out, and you need to take the necessary steps to protect your interests and your property.