When Can a Landlord Evict You?

by Amelia Jenkins ; Updated July 27, 2017

A tenant has the right to enjoy his home as long as he follows the terms listed in the lease. However, if the tenant breaks the lease agreement by not following those terms, the landlord has the right to evict the tenant. Each state sets its own laws for evictions. Most laws, however, follow common practices that ensure tenants are not unfairly evicted from their rental homes.

Causes for Evictions

A landlord can evict a tenant if the tenant violates the terms of the lease agreement. Typically, a tenant violates the lease agreement by not paying the monthly rent on time. A landlord can, however, evict a tenant who violates any rule listed in the lease agreement, such as having guests for an extended period of time or continually disrupting other tenants. Tenants who do not move out at the end of the lease term are also in violation of the lease agreement and may face eviction.

The Eviction Process

Each state sets the rules a landlord must follow in order to evict a tenant. Many states require that the landlord give the tenant a written warning before filing an eviction. For example, according to the Southern Illinois University School of Law, a landlord in Illinois must give any tenant who fails to pay the rent a five day written warning before he can evict the tenant. After the notice period expires, the landlord can file an eviction in a local court. The court will set a hearing date and both the landlord and the tenant can plead their cases before an actual eviction can occur.

Illegal Evictions

Most states do not allow the landlord to attempt to evict the tenant himself. This means that a landlord cannot change the locks on a rental property, remove doors or block entryways to prevent the tenant from reentering the property. The landlord cannot try to force the tenant out by shutting off the water, gas or electricity to the rental unit. Also, the landlord cannot enter the property and remove the tenant’s belongings before an eviction hearing. If the landlord does violate these laws, the tenant can sue for damages in small claims court.

Exceptions for Month to Month Tenants

Month to month tenants do not have a formal lease agreement and can leave a rental property at any time providing they give the landlord proper notice. The landlord can also end the agreement with the tenant in much the same fashion. As long as the landlord provides the tenant with a written notice in advance, the tenant must vacate the property regardless of the reason.

About the Author

Amelia Jenkins has more than eight years of professional writing experience, covering financial, environmental and travel topics. Her work has appeared on MSN and various other websites and her articles have topped the best-of list for sites like Bankrate and Kipplinger. Jenkins studied English at Tarrant County College.