In most states, a landlord can legally evict a tenant for reasons such as not paying rent or when the tenant’s conduct creates a safety or health hazard for other tenants. According to the American Bar Association, if the tenant rents month to month without a lease, the law requires the landlord to give the tenant a written 30-day notice to terminate the lease. The length of time it takes to actually evict a tenant depends in part on the laws in your state.
Serve the tenant with written notice 30 to 45 days in advance of the date to vacate. Ask the tenant to leave for the reasons stated in your letter. You or a server must hand deliver the termination notice to the tenant. Some laws require that a copy of the notice also be mailed to the tenant. Make sure to comply with all state and local laws for serving an eviction notice. If the tenant does not leave voluntarily by the end of the period of notice, the landlord has the right to evict.
Request court directed mediation; the purpose of which is to reach an agreement with the tenant. An unbiased third party will help settle the dispute. Mediation is not required, but the process can be faster and less expensive than taking the case to court. Steven Glassberg, a Manhattan real estate attorney, points out that the court process can be lengthy and expensive, especially if a tenant contests the eviction.
File an unlawful detainer lawsuit to seek the court’s help in evicting a tenant who refuses to vacate the property. This is the next step in the eviction process if mediation fails or you choose not to pursue that option. File a complaint with the court. The complaint is then served on the tenant. Tenants who challenge the reasons for an eviction generally have the right to dispute and are entitled to a court hearing.
Hire an attorney to represent you in the event your eviction proceedings go to trial. Your attorney will present the facts of the case to the court. You must prove to the court that you are the legal owner of the property and that you served the tenant with an eviction notice. Provide any other evidence that supports your reasons for evicting the tenant. The court will then enter a decision either for the landlord or the tenant.
Take the court order to the local sheriff if the court rules in your favor. The sheriff will post a notice on the tenant’s door. If the tenant fails to comply by moving out by the date and time indicated on the posting, the sheriff will return to physically remove the tenant and his belongings from the property.
Landlords who win the eviction dispute in court can attempt to recover court costs and attorney fees. However, without a written rental agreement providing for such, you may not be able to get back these costs.
In some jurisdictions, if a judge orders the tenant to move from the property, the tenant is responsible for paying double rent for the time he continued to occupy the property after the landlord ordered him to vacate.