There are four main pillars to any eviction. Make sure to consult with an attorney and understand your state and local laws before you start!
- Eviction Notice
- Actual Eviction
- Collect Money
Whether you call it an eviction notice, eviction letter, of notice of eviction, this step may be the most important step in the eviction process. This step starts the timer for evicting your tenants, and allows all of the other steps to happen.
If you’re going to pursue a tenant eviction and have a reason to do so, make sure to get this step started as soon as possible! Some states require a 30 day notice or 60 day notice, so it’s important to initiate these step as soon as you’ve made up your mind to evict!
Types of Eviction Notices
There are three types of eviction notices. Each state uses them differently, so be sure to understand your state law as you begin to think about giving the notice of eviction.
- Pay Rent or Quit
This type of eviction noticing is typically used when the tenant hasn’t paid rent. Depending on the state, it gives the tenant 3-5 days to pay any rent and fees or move out (“to quit”).
- Cure or Quit
This type of notice is usually given after the tenant violates a term or condition of the lease agreement. This may include a term about pets, excessive noise, or any other portion of the lease. The tenant is given a certain amount of time to “cure” the problem or they can “quit” and vacate the property. If they do not cure or quit the lease violation, then the eviction lawsuit may be initiated.
- Unconditional Quit
Of the notices to evict, this is the harshest option. This orders the tenant to vacate the premises with no chance to pay rent or correct the violation of the lease or rental agreement. Many states only allow them under certain circumstances, such as repeatedly being late with rent, multiple violations of the lease, serious damage to the property, or illegal activity (such as dealing drugs) on the premises.
Components of Notice
There are certain components of an eviction notice. Whether you have an attorney make one or you use a free eviction notice that you find online, make sure it has each of these requirements met:
- Include deadline in the form of a date
- Include the amount owed (with any fees)
- Depending on the state, make sure the eviction notice is posted the correct number of days prior to filing the eviction paperwork with the local court. This may be 3, 5, 7, 10, 14 days or dependent on the lease agreement.
- Understand if your state requires the notice to be delivered by USPS Certified Mail or with Return Receipt Requested
There are many online options for free eviction notices and eviction templates. Although not free, a good resource for this paperwork is:
So you’ve gotten through the eviction noticing process, and now it’s time to file a suit for eviction with the local court. This eviction lawsuit allows things to move through the court system in the proper and legal way. As you prepare for your court date, make sure to bring these things to your hearing:
- Lease agreement or rental agreement
- Records of all payments (including bounced checks)
- Records of all communications between you and your tenant
- Copy of the written notice that you provided the tenant
- Proof the tenant received the notice
- Any other evidence the court may find useful in deciding the outcome
Remember, having proper eviction noticing (and records of it) is incredibly important!! This is often the area where tenants will push back and try to make their case. And if proper noticing wasn’t given or can’t be proven, they may actually win. (Yes, tenants can actually win, and avoid being evicted)
If you win the eviction case, and the court decides the tenant should be evicted, then congratulations! You’re one, small step closer to where you want to be. Typically, the court will then set a date and time in which the tenant must vacate the premises. If needed, the sheriff’s department may be used to help enforce the eviction ruling, and can help escort the tenants out of the property on the date of the eviction.
As a landlord, remember your goal is to re-secure your investment. On the day of the eviction, plan to change the locks and to secure the property from the tenant entering again. Also, it will be a good idea to take pictures of the condition the property is in, just in case you need to go back to court in order to get a judgment for damages and money owed.
Also, remember that each state has rules about what can be done with any possessions left inside the property. Most will not allow the landlord to dispose of them. Instead, they will likely need to be stored for a certain amount of time, in which the tenant may return to reclaim those items. Don’t dispose of any possessions until you are sure you’re following the rules and laws of your state!
Congratulations! You’ve provided the proper eviction notice, you’ve gone through the court process, and you’ve finally removed that tenant from your property, and did all of that in the right steps.
You’re done, right?
Wait, what about the money the tenant owes you? Did the tenant leave the property damaged? You still haven’t received that past rent or money from the damages to the property!!
These last steps may prove to be the hardest, and unfortunately, there are no guaranteed results. If you are still owed money from the tenant, you’ll likely need to file a lawsuit in small claims court. In some states, this can be done at the time of the eviction. In others, you may need to wait until the whole eviction process has been completed.
To collect on the money the former tenant owes you, you’ll need to be awarded a “judgment” against the tenant. This judgment allows you to garnish wages, garnish a tax refund, or to employ the use of a private debt collector.
Getting paid for what you are rightfully owed can oftentimes be like fighting an uphill battle. Finding the former tenant’s employer and new address can be incredibly challenging, and may result in some sleepless nights. Brace yourself for the fact that you might not be able to collect for past due rent, fees and damages to the property.
Remember back to the “Three Eviction Options” we discussed before? Would it have made more sense to do a better job at trying to resolve the problem? Or should you more seriously have thought about selling the property?
Going through an eviction is an incredibly challenging process, with very few guarantees.
If you’re still on the fence about what to do, make sure you fully consider all of your Three Options. Talking to an investor about selling your property may actually be one of your best solutions. Be sure to weigh all the pros and cons to each option before you begin the eviction journey!
Also, always make sure you follow state, county, and city rules and laws! We encourage you to speak with an attorney who is well versed on the matter in your particular state. There is no “one size fits all” approach to evictions, and if you decide to go down this road, you want to make sure you’re doing it 100% by the book!