In the world of property management, there are many things that nobody looks forward to.
One of the most expensive and stressful of these events is an eviction process.
As a landlord or property owner, an eviction can cost thousands of dollars as well as many hours of commitment, possible property damage, and even the risk of assault or harassment.
So, naturally, most landlords want to get the eviction process over with as fast as possible, which leads them to perform a self help eviction.
In this blog post, we'll be covering exactly what a self-help eviction is, why they should be avoided, and the proper way to evict a tenant.
To begin, let's go over the definition of a self-help eviction.
What Is A Self Help Eviction?
Self-help evictions, also known as illegal evictions or unlawful detainer, are when a landlord forces a tenant to leave their rental property without going through the proper legal channels.
This can include changing the locks, shutting off utilities, or even physically removing the tenant's belongings from the property.
Self-help evictions are illegal in most jurisdictions because they bypass the judicial process, which is put in place to protect the rights of both landlords and tenants.
Landlords have the right to evict a tenant for certain reasons, such as not paying rent or violating the terms of the lease agreement, but they must first go through the court system in order to do so.
However, there are consequences to the landlord if they decide to go with the self-help eviction, which we will go over below.
Consequences Of Self-Help Evictions
Performing a self-help eviction can have serious consequences for landlords. In addition to being illegal, it can also result in fines and even criminal charges.
Below, we'll outline more specifically some of the consequences that a landlord or property manager can expect if performing a self-help eviction.
Landlords who perform self-help evictions can face fines, criminal charges, and even jail time.
The tenant may also be able to sue the landlord for damages, including the cost of finding a new place to live and any property that was damaged or destroyed during the eviction.
Landlords who are caught performing self-help evictions may find themselves facing negative publicity, which can damage their reputation and make it difficult to attract future tenants.
In addition to any fines or damages that a landlord may have to pay, self-help evictions can also be costly in terms of lost rent and court costs.
If the tenant is able to successfully sue the landlord, the landlord may be ordered to pay the tenant's lost rent as well as any other damages.
Overall, it's clear that the consequences of performing a self-help eviction can be severe.
Landlords should always follow the proper legal procedures when it comes to evicting a tenant, in order to avoid these potential consequences.
We want to outline the proper way to conduct an eviction, but before we do that, we should outline some of the valid and invalid reasons that a landlord can evict a tenant.
When Can A Tenant Be Evicted?
As a landlord, it's important to understand the legal reasons that you can and cannot evict a tenant.
Eviction is a complex process, and it's essential to follow the law to avoid potential legal consequences. So , below, we're going to outline some of the valid and invalid reasons for evicting a tenant.
Each one of the reasons below is a valid reason for a landlord to evict a tenant, but remember that even if the tenant does any of these things, the landlord must avoid the illegal eviction.
Nonpayment of rent
If a tenant fails to pay rent on time, a landlord can begin the eviction process.
However, the landlord must first give the tenant a written notice, allowing them a certain number of days to pay the overdue rent or vacate the rental unit.
Breach of lease
If a tenant violates the terms of their lease, a landlord can evict them.
Examples of a breach of lease include having unauthorized occupants, damaging the property, or anything else that goes against the lease.
If a tenant is engaging in illegal activities on the rental property, a landlord can evict them. This could include drug dealing, gang activity, or other crimes.
Apart from knowing all of the valid reasons for evicting a tenant, landlords must also know about the invalid reasons.
The Lease Has Not Been Breached
If the tenant has a valid lease, a landlord cannot evict them without a valid reason.
The lease is a legally binding contract between a landlord and a tenant, and it outlines the terms and conditions of the tenancy. This means that the landlord must adhere to the terms of the lease, and cannot evict the tenant unless the tenant has breached the lease.
Violating Tenant Rights
Tenants have certain rights that landlords must respect, and an eviction cannot violate these rights.
For example, a landlord cannot evict a tenant based on their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or other protected characteristic. This is known as discrimination, and it is illegal.
Sometimes, the landlord may feel the need to evict a tenant because of something that the tenant did that was within their rights.
For example, a landlord cannot evict a tenant for doing something like reporting a health code violation to the authorities.
So, now that we know all about the reasons that a landlord can and cannot use to evict a tenant, let's get into the interesting part - how to conduct an eviction.
How To Properly Conduct An Eviction
In this section, we will be discussing some of the necessary steps that landlords must carry out during an eviction.
Note that this list is not conclusive, and the process may be different depending on your state's eviction laws.
1. Proper Notice
The first step in the eviction process is to serve the tenant with a notice to vacate.
This notice should be in writing and should state the reason for the eviction, such as non-payment of rent or violation of the lease agreement. The notice should also specify a date by which the tenant must vacate the property.
2. Eviction Lawsuit
Once the tenant has received the notice to vacate, they may choose to voluntarily move out by the specified date.
If the tenant does not move out by the specified date, the landlord can then file an eviction lawsuit with the court.
3. Court Hearing
The next step in the eviction process is for the court to hold a hearing. Both the landlord and tenant will have the opportunity to present their case to the judge, and the judge will then make a decision about the eviction.
If the judge rules in favor of the landlord, the tenant will be ordered to vacate the property by a certain date.
4. Forced Removal
If the tenant refuses to vacate the property by the date specified in the court's order, the landlord can then ask the sheriff to forcibly remove the tenant.
The sheriff will then come to the property and supervise the eviction, ensuring that the tenant's property is removed and the property is cleared.
In conclusion, evicting a tenant can be a complex process, but by following the steps outlined above and following the law carefully, landlords can protect their rights and property.