When you start the eviction process against a tenant, there are many procedures and requirements you must complete correctly and sequentially in order to process the eviction legally. While landlord-tenant laws differ from place to place, there are some generalities on eviction that apply in most cases.
The most common reasons for eviction are late rent, unpaid rent, illegal activity at the property or finding more people living in the unit than are on the lease agreement. Educate yourself on precisely what your jurisdiction requires when it comes to evictions and don’t be fooled by some of these common eviction myths:
Evicting tenants with children – Landlords have to wait till after the school year
The law allows a landlord to evict a tenant at any time of year for non-payment of rent or for other lease violations. Even if the tenant has children living in the rental unit, there are no breaks, extensions or other delays during the eviction process. At the end of the eviction process, when the court issues an eviction judgment, there are no exceptions given for families with children.
Can a landlord evict you in the winter?
A landlord can start the eviction process at any time of year, regardless of climate. Even in Alaska, landlords can evict tenants in the winter if the tenant has failed to pay rent or has otherwise breached the lease agreement. While some jurisdictions may not require the police department to enforce a move-out during winter holidays, in general, the eviction process proceeds as normal all year long.
Landlords may hold off on repairs during the eviction process.
As a landlord, you are obligated to complete repairs in a timely manner, regardless of the tenant’s status in the eviction process. Realize that repairs and property maintenance are independent of your tenant’s obligation to pay the rent. It’s always better to operate as a responsible landlord in keeping your property in good shape, no matter what is happening with your tenant and any lease agreement violations.
Landlords can’t evict tenants without a written lease agreement.
While it’s always best to have a written agreement with tenants, you can start the eviction process on a tenant with whom you have an oral lease agreement. You will need to show the court as much as you can about the oral agreement—emails, rent receipts and so forth. Because most tenants pay rent once per month, they are generally considered to be in a month-to-month tenancy. Be sure you follow your jurisdiction’s eviction laws on proper notice and deadlines for month-to-month tenants when starting the eviction process.
Landlords can put a tenant’s belongings to storage once a notice to vacate has been served.
Landlords cannot remove a tenant’s property unless there has been an eviction judgment issued by the court and the sheriff has arrived to enforce the writ of possession. Any attempt by a landlord to remove a tenant’s belongings before that time is illegal.
As a landlord, you must become extremely familiar with the eviction process in your state, because if you fail to follow the procedures exactly, it could jeopardize your chances of reclaiming your property in a timely manner. For more information on the eviction processes for your state, check out Eviction Resources and select your state.