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Tenant Eviction: The Do’s and Don’ts

Eviction notice on door of house with brass door knob. Fictitious address, ID, signature and 555 phone number for fictional usage.One of the skills required to be a successful landlord is knowing when and how to evict a tenant. Understanding why you can and cannot evict a tenant enables you to be a responsible and lawful landlord while protecting tenant rights and preserving a harmonious landlord-tenant relationship.

Understanding Just Cause

Property owners should be aware that eviction is a legal procedure that requires a court order to remove a tenant from their property. Understanding the legal grounds for eviction enables compliance with local, state, and federal regulations governing landlord-tenant relationships. In the absence of sufficient legal grounds, evicting a tenant could result in fines or litigation.

To evict a tenant, you must have what is known as “just cause.” Just cause eviction statutes require that you have a legal justification to evict the tenant, such as nonpayment of rent, property damage, or violation of the lease terms. You cannot evict a tenant unless you have just cause.

Reasons You Can Evict

Nonpayment of rent is one of the most prevalent reasons landlords evict tenants. If your renter fails to pay their rent on time, you can issue them formal notice that they have a set number of days to pay or vacate the property, as required by state law. If the tenant fails to comply, you may file for eviction. Just ensure that you adhere to the terms of your lease and any applicable state and local laws.

Property damage is an additional common cause of eviction. If your tenant has caused extensive property damage that exceeds normal wear and tear, you can serve them with a written notice requiring them to repair the damage or vacate the premises. If the tenant does not comply, you may initiate eviction proceedings.

Other grounds for eviction include the tenant’s violation of other lease provisions. If your lease prohibits pets and your tenant has one, you can give them formal notice to remove the animal or vacate the premises. If the tenant does not comply, you may initiate eviction proceedings. The same applies to all other lease conditions.

Reasons You Cannot Evict

Even if a tenant’s actions seem to warrant eviction, there are a few additional reasons why you cannot evict. For instance, you cannot evict a tenant for requesting that you make modifications to the property or for complaining about the conditions of the rental unit. In addition, you cannot evict a tenant on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, familial status, or disability. These protected categories cannot be used as legal grounds for eviction, and any attempt to do so could result in a discrimination lawsuit.

Carrying Out an Eviction

If you find yourself in the position of having to evict a tenant, you must adhere to a number of procedures. First, you must provide the tenant with a written notice outlining the reasons for the eviction and the date by which they must vacate the premises. Next, an eviction petition must be filed with the court and the lessee must be served. You may be able to obtain a default judgment if the lessee fails to appear in court on the scheduled date. If the tenant still refuses to vacate the property, you may be able to have the local authorities remove them.

Although eviction is never simple, it is sometimes necessary. By understanding why you can (and cannot) evict a tenant, as well as the stages of the eviction procedure, you will reduce legal risks and foster a fair and courteous living environment for all parties.


If you are facing the possibility of eviction, you may wish to seek the counsel of a property management professional. Contact your local Real Property Management office immediately to speak with a local rental property expert.

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