An eviction occurs when a landlord removes a tenant from a rental property. The process varies: It may be as simple as a notice to the tenant with an explanation of the eviction and the final date by which they must move out, or it may escalate to a legal dispute. Thus, the length of time the eviction process will take is determined mainly by the specific situation. Tenants generally are allowed more time if the eviction is without cause, as opposed to evictions with cause.
Eviction Notices Without Cause
If a landlord decides to evict a month-to-month tenant without cause -- perhaps to make renovations -- he or she must give notice, typically 30 days. But some cities with rent control, including San Francisco and New York City, do not allow evictions unless the landlord is able to prove a legitimate reason to do so.
Landlords generally may not break a fixed-term lease without cause, since doing so would constitute a breach of contract.
Eviction Notices With Cause
Regardless of what type of lease they have (fixed-term or month-to-month), tenants generally have fewer protections if they are being evicted with cause. Notices for eviction with cause fall into the following categories:
After the notice period expires, the landlord may file a lawsuit alleging forcible entry and unlawful detainer. The case will be tried as a summary proceeding in a matter of weeks after the landlord files the lawsuit. If the tenant does not show up to defend the charges, the judge will make a default judgment of guilt.
In some states, the judge can order eviction immediately at the end of the trial. But the court customarily gives the tenant time to move out, usually one to four weeks. If the tenant remains after that period, the landlord has to hire the sheriff or marshal to carry out a forcible eviction. That will take several weeks more. Further delays are possible if the tenant files a motion for more time or objects to the court determination. Eviction may take longer if the tenant is being evicted during the winter months.
Thus, the eviction process from the end of the notice period can take from five weeks to three months, assuming there are no delays. Consider speaking with a landlord-tenant lawyer in your area if you have additional questions or need legal assistance.
Learn More About the Eviction Process from an Attorney
It can be easy to feel as though the landlord holds all the cards when a dispute arises. However, there are many laws intended to protect tenants from a wrongful eviction. Contact a local landlord-tenant attorney to discuss your situation and learn how they can help.