Evicting A Tenant: 4 Mistakes To Avoid

When you have conflict with a tenant, you want to get them out as soon as possible. But do things wrong, and you can make the situation much worse. These are the big mistakes you'll want to avoid if you ever want to be rid of your renters. The information provided here is for general information only and should not be used as legal advice.

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4 Big Mistakes People Make When Evicting A Tenant

  1. Not having a paper trail. Prepare all the necessary documents so you'll have the evidence you need to proceed with the eviction.
  2. Expecting them to leave when asked. They'll be sure to put up a fight, so provide an eviction notice and get ready to take them to court.
  3. Thinking the rules don't apply to you. If you're subletting your apartment or renting to someone on a vacation lease, you may still have to evict them, so make sure you know the laws and procedures for your state.
  4. Trying to handle things yourself. You don't want to end up in a nasty fight with your tenants, so find an attorney who can help you do things right.

Eviction Rates In The US, 2000-2016

Year Renter Occupied Households Number of Evictions Eviction Rate
2000 19,327,822 518,873 2.68%
2001 27,438,838 754,652 2.75%
2002 29,982,440 864,918 2.88%
2003 30,330,222 910,361 3.00%
2004 30,784,432 940,817 3.06%
2005 31,969,192 969,303 3.03%
2006 32,578,412 1,019,600 3.13%
2007 31,207,532 958,605 3.07%
2008 31,990,144 996,233 3.11%
2009 32,757,084 952,699 2.91%
2010 33,685,912 993,531 2.95%
2011 33,975,472 987,999 2.91%
2012 34,676,936 983,666 2.84%
2013 35,361,292 930,693 2.63%
2014 36,302,464 908,977 2.50%
2015 36,502,680 870,325 2.38%
2016 38,372,860 898,479 2.34%

Can I Evict My Tenants Because I Want To Increase The Rent?

You can't if you live in a state with rent control laws, which prevent precisely this situation in order to keep landlords from tossing out low-income renters simply because they can make more money from someone else. The process of buying out tenants is common in cities where rent stabilization exists. It is possible that you can offer a cash amount to a tenant to entice them to move out. However, if they say no, you'll have to honor the lease agreement you've made. You also need to be careful and not violate the law. Buyouts have often been used as an intimidation tactic to force low-income individuals out of housing, and landlords have been accused of misleading tenants and not paying them what was promised. It'd be a good idea to consult an attorney before going ahead with any plan.

Types Of Eviction Notices

Notice Type Situation What It Means
Pay Rent or Quit Tenant is behind on rent Rent must be paid in full by the date given or tenant must vacate the apartment by that date
Perform Covenants or Quit (or "Cure or Quit") Tenant has violated the terms of the rental agreement in a way that can be remedied (such as owning a pet without permission or housing guests that are not permitted by the lease) Tenant must correct the violation within the supplied time frame or move out
Unconditional Notice to Quit Tenant has violated the terms of the lease repeatedly or in ways that cannot be remedied Tenant must vacate the unit within the time frame given
No-Cause Notice (or "Notice of Non-Renewal") Tenant's lease is up or is month-to-month Tenant has a set amount of time (generally 30 to 60 days, but varies by state and type of lease) in order to vacate
Tenancy-At-Will Notice Tenant does not have a firm lease Tenant must vacate, usually in a shorter amount of time if the tenant has not been in the unit for long enough to establish full tenancy

How Much Does It Cost To Evict A Tenant?

While it always depends on a situation, there are many costs associated with eviction, including court filing fees, lost rent, and hiring an attorney. It has been estimated that it can cost more than $5,000 to evict a tenant, which is why it's much better to improve your screening process by doing a credit check and following up on your applicant's references so you can avoid the time and money that it will take to eventually evict them.

Can I Sue A Former Tenant For Unpaid Rent?

If you have a rental agreement, then both parties are bound by it, which means you are owed the money stipulated in the lease. If you have to evict a tenant, then the likelihood that you'll be paid depends on what the tenant does after receiving the notice. If they don't leave and you have to go through the legal process, then depending on the laws in your state, the tenant may have to pay the outstanding amount to the court, after which you should receive what is owed to you. If they move out and simply disappear, then you'd have to locate them in order to collect. But if they leave, you'll at least be able to rent the apartment out to new tenants. It's up to you and your attorney to decide if the amount owed is worth the trouble to pursue legal action.

Metropolitan Areas With The Highest Eviction Rates

Rank City State Eviction Rate
1 Memphis Tennessee 6.1%
2 Phoenix Arizona 5.9%
3 Atlanta Georgia 5.7%
4 (tie) Indianapolis Indiana 5.6%
4 (tie) Dallas Texas 5.6%
6 Las Vegas Nevada 5.5%
7 Louisville Kentucky 5.3%
8 Houston Texas 5%
9 Virginia Beach Virginia 4.9%
10 Cincinnati Ohio 4.8%

Does My State Have Rent Control Laws?

Each state is different regarding the laws that govern how much a landlord may charge for rent, and how much a landlord can increase your rent in any given year. Because of growing housing markets in some cities, rent control has become a contentious issue. It's a good idea to know what the laws are in your state. You can consult this chart to find out more.

Okay, So What Should I Do To Evict A Tenant The Right Way?

You can't predict whether a relationship with a tenant will turn sour, so there's always a chance you'll have to evict them. But there are things you can do to protect yourself so the process is as simple as possible and you don't end up on the losing end of a court battle. Check out our step-by-step guide for more resources that can connect you to the help you need.

In Depth

If someone is renting from you, there's always a chance they'll turn out to be a disaster and you'll have to kick them out. These are the four biggest mistakes people make when evicting a tenant that can turn the process into a nightmare.

Mistake #1: not having a paper trail. You may not know this, but there are professional cuddling businesses where individuals host "cuddle parties" involving dozens of people getting together to lie on the floor and snuggle with one another.

If that sounds like too many people coming in and out of your building, then ask yourself: did you tell your tenants they couldn't run a cuddle party business out of their unit? Because if the lease doesn't forbid having a home business, it'll be tough to evict them for it.

If that sounds like too many people coming in and out of your building, then ask yourself: did you tell your tenants they couldn't run a cuddle party business out of their unit?

And what about making changes to the unit? Can they cut a hole in the floor and install a slide? What about putting in an indoor skate park for local teens to enjoy? You need policies set in writing so you can give your tenants the boot when they violate the rules. Have them fill out a rental application and do a background check, and have both parties sign a proper lease that covers all the necessary information.

If you need to evict them, you'll have it in writing what the rules were and how they violated them. That way, when your tenant decides to start a baby DJ school in the house, you can evict them because it's a violation of the lease.

To find more resources that can help you through this process, be sure to refer to our full guide to evicting a tenant. You can find it right here on this web page. Check it out beneath this video.

You can find it right here on this web page.

Mistake #2: expecting them to leave when asked. States like California have strict rules regarding how and why you can evict a tenant. These laws are a good thing when they protect tenants from predatory landlords who will use any excuse to kick low-income renters out in order to charge more for their units.

But these laws also lead to abuse in the form of serial evictees, tenants who move in and never pay a dime in rent, living in the unit for as long as the eviction process takes, then repeating the process with another landlord, bouncing from one free apartment to the next.

That's why you need to post an official eviction notice and follow the law. Your tenant has a right to fight the eviction, so you may be in for a lengthy legal fight. Hopefully it won't last 30 years like the battle over a rent-stabilized Manhattan apartment, but make sure you have the cash to cover the lost rent while you're trying to get your renters out.

Your tenant has a right to fight the eviction, so you may be in for a lengthy legal fight.

Mistake #3: thinking the rules don't apply to you. Perhaps you're just subletting your place for a few months, or using a short-term rental site to make extra cash, and you think you don't have to follow the same official eviction procedures. Well, you'd be very wrong to think that.

In some states, a renter can establish official tenancy after only a month, so those guys renting your place while you're in Europe can turn into squatters pretty fast. Tenants who are subletting have to be evicted by the same process, so make sure you're prepared for problems. There's even been cases of parents having to turn to the courts in order to get their kids to move out.

The laws differ depending on which state you live in, so be sure you've got the correct info for your area. There is no need to look further. Our full guide to evicting a tenant is available now. Scroll down to find it right beneath this video.

The laws differ depending on which state you live in, so be sure you've got the correct info for your area.

Mistake #4: trying to handle things yourself. There's plenty of horror stories on the Internet about landlords trying to get revenge on tenants who did them wrong, including the guy in Australia who found his house trashed and covered in blood, so he pulled a gun on the tenants. We aren't lawyers, and this isn't legal advice, but usually if the police show up and arrest you, that means you handled things poorly.

It's best not to confront your tenants, or simply toss their things out on the street, because you don't know what they might do. Just do a Google search for "how to get revenge on a landlord" and you'll see how many people out there are spending their time thinking of ways to harm those they rent from. Instead, a good attorney can help you navigate the legal process so you can get your tenants out and avoid any unnecessary violent clashes.

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