Evicting a tenant from a rental property in New Mexico requires a court order. Usually, the eviction is handled by the local Magistrate Court. In the State of New Mexico, the most common type of landlord-tenant cases are evictions, otherwise known as a Petition for Writ of Restitution. In a nutshell, this is a court order restoring the property from the renter back to the landlord. If the landlord were to illegally lock the tenant out of the apartment, then the tenant can also file a Petition for Writ of Restitution restoring the apartment back to them. However, as a landlord, you should never try to evict someone without a court order. Just as it is in many states, it is illegal in New Mexico to attempt to remove a tenant forcibly, or by other means such as change their locks or shutting off the utilities.
New Mexico, known as the Land of Enchantment, limits Landlords to two (2) basic reasons for evicting a tenant:
- Nonpayment of rent
- Violating the lease agreement
Of course, nonpayment of rent is the easiest to judge. Either the tenant has paid the landlord, or they haven’t paid the landlord. There is very little grey area when it comes to determining whether the Landlord has received rent monies from the Tenant. One method of assuring that rent payments are received is to ask tenants to enroll in an online rent collection service that allows rent payment by either eCheck/ACH or Credit Card. That way, if the tenant is low on funds in their checking account – they can pull out a credit card that month to ensure that rent is paid on-time and in-full. VerticalRent® provides Landlords with the ability to collect rent electronically with a credit card. It’s a great way of ensuring that your tenants have a backup system in place to make sure the rent is paid on-time every month. What’s more is that landlords can pass the processing fee cost onto the tenant in the form of a convenience fee.
Violating the lease is much broader. The lease agreement will spell out some terms such as pets in the residence. Other violations are universal; breaking the law is grounds for eviction. We recommend that you consult with an attorney if you feel that a tenant has violated the terms of your lease agreement.
The eviction process starts with serving notice on the tenant. This can be hand-delivered, mailed and posted conspicuously on the property. Legal Beagle suggests the posted notice is the fastest option. The website says, "[a]ccording to Section 47-8-33, you may post notice on the property, which requires mailing the tenant a copy, as well. If you choose this option, the eviction timeline starts when you post a notice, not when the tenant receives it in her mailbox."
Then file papers in the local court with jurisdiction over the landlord-tenant agreement. New Mexico courts generally schedule hearings within a week to 10 days.
Then, be prepared to defend your claims to the judge. As Legal Beagle says, "Bring a copy of the lease and supporting evidence that shows why you're evicting the tenant. Examples might include photos of property damage, as well as written or personal testimony from neighbors with firsthand knowledge of alleged rules violations. Be ready to explain your reasoning in simple, concise terms."
When the judge rules in your favor, the tenant has three days to leave. Any property left behind is yours to sell, provided you give the former tenant anything over $100 after you cover the moving costs.
The New Mexico Legal Aid association has a renter's guide with useful information for tenants and landlords.
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