As important as tenant screening is to run a successful property rental business, it’s not foolproof. Even tenants with the best of intentions can be late on the rent, and despite your best efforts to build a good relationship with tenants, that relationship can still go south.
In order to end a lease agreement prior to its expiration date, there are certain legal procedures that need to be followed. Straying from that process not only could result in you losing your eviction case but could also cause you to be brought to civil court and could result in you losing your reputation.
First, it’s important to determine whether you even have a basis for evicting the tenant in question. Most eviction cases are due to the tenant failing to pay the rent on time, but there could be other reasons for evicting a tenant, such as:
- Breaking specific rules of the lease, such as guest limitations, noise restrictions, pet rules, etc.
- Causing significant damage to the property.
- Staying on the property following the expiration of the lease; this is known as a holdover.
In most states, landlords are required to provide tenants with notices of any minor infractions along with a sufficient amount of time for correcting those issues before eviction proceedings can begin. Landlord-tenant laws vary among states. If you fail to provide your tenant with a warning, it is entirely possible that a judge could side with the tenant if the case ever makes its way to court.
Once you have determined that you do have a legal basis for evicting the tenant, the next step is to ensure you are familiar with the Landlord and Tenant Act. This act sets out the legal process that must be followed for evicting tenants. If you miss even a small part of this process, not only could you lose your own case, the tenant could actually have grounds for suing you in civil court.