Rules for Landlords and Property Managers when Evicting a Tenant

There are different types of eviction notices, and each eviction letter must comport with the laws that apply to the situation. These laws change from state to state, and even city to city within a state. If you are in the process of evicting a tenant, be sure to follow these laws carefully.

Eviction Notice for Cause

An eviction notice for cause may come in a variety of forms, but they all stem from a tenant doing something wrong or against the terms of the lease. In general, there are three types of eviction notice for cause.

First, pay rent or quit notices generally are sent when a tenant is delinquent in paying rent. These notices normally give a tenant a short period of time, set by state law, in which to pay rent or else be subjected to a lawsuit for eviction.

Second, cure or quit notices are generally mailed out when a tenant does something wrong or violates a term of the lease agreement. Like a pay rent or quit notice, these notices generally provide a tenant a short amount of time in which to cure the defect or else face eviction.

Lastly, unconditional quit notices are very hard on the tenant. These eviction notices can generally only be used when a tenant has a pattern of paying late rent, refusal to pay rent, seriously damaged the rental property, or engaged in dangerous or illegal activity on the property.

Which notice is the proper eviction notice for a landlord to send to a tenant when evicting a tenant depends upon the laws of the states. In states where the laws favor landlords, sometimes unconditional quit notices could be sent in situations where a pay rent or quit notice would be sent in another state.

Eviction Notice without Cause

Unlike an eviction notice for cause, an eviction notice without cause means that the landlord does not have to have any reason to want a tenant out. Because of this, many states require landlords to give either 30 or 60 day notice to the tenant before being allowed to begin an eviction suit. However, some states that have rent controlled apartments require landlords to give a legally justifiable reason for wanting to end the lease agreement and do not permit landlords to end leases without some cause.

Defenses that are Available to a Tenant

Tenants facing evictions often become very tenacious in defending their right to stay in the property. Tenants have a multitude of defenses available to them, any one of which may derail your entire cause to evict the tenant. First, tenants often argue that the eviction notice was improper because it either did not contain the necessary information required by law, was served (delivered) improperly, or both. Also, tenants often attempt to show a landlord's wrongdoings in order to take the focus away from themselves and gain sympathy from a judge.

Removing the Tenant

If you have won your unlawful detainer suit against your tenant, you may think it will be as easy as going to the property and picking up everything the tenant owns and putting it on the sidewalk -- but it isn't. If the tenant still refuses to leave voluntarily after losing an unlawful detainer lawsuit, you must take the court order to the local sheriff and pay a fee for the sheriff to carry out the court order. The sheriff will then ensure that the tenant leaves the premises.

Sometimes tenants leave behind various personal items of property inside of a rental unit after being evicted. Some states do not allow landlords to do anything with this property but attempt to contact the prior tenant to get it back to them. Other states allow landlords free reign over this abandoned personal property. You should learn the laws of your state before attempting to handle left-behind personal property.

Why are the Rules so Strict?

To put it simply, the rules that landlords must follow while evicting a tenant are so strict because of the nature of the case. First, unlawful detainer suits are much faster than almost any other type of civil litigation, often resolving a matter in a month or two, or even faster. The compromise for this speed is that the landlord must be absolutely sure that every "i" is dotted and every "t" crossed.

Lastly, in most situations, an unlawful detainer suit is worth more to a tenant than it is to a landlord. On the one hand, a landlord may be losing money each month because of a tenant, but on the other hand, if a tenant loses the case, he or she won't have a home anymore. Because of the sensitive nature of these cases, lawmakers have made landlords work extra hard in order to properly evict a tenant.

Get a Free Initial Case Review

Evictions may proceed smoothly or result in a series of contentious and ultimately costly exchanges. Knowing your rights can help ensure that the process goes smoothly. Contact a local attorney for a free initial case review to learn how they can help guide you.

Next Steps

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