What are the most common reasons for eviction?
For both residential and commercial tenants, the most common reason for an eviction is nonpayment of rent. For residential tenants, all evictions must follow strict state and local laws. These laws are designed to protect individuals from being put out of their homes without approval by the courts. These protections mean that landlords cannot evict tenants for discriminatory reasons, and residential tenants are generally protected from evictions without a legal reason. Reasons for eviction fall into two broad categories, at-fault evictions and no-fault evictions.
The most common reasons residential tenants face an at-fault eviction include:
- Nonpayment of rent.
- Not following rules in a Lease Agreement.
- Not vacating after the end of lease.
- Disturbing other tenants' ability to use the property.
Alternatively, residential tenants can face a no-fault eviction. As the name implies, these can happen even if the tenant follows all the rules and pays on time. For example, if a property owner wants to move in, have a family member move in, or chooses to sell or renovate the property, they may be able to evict a tenant. There are protections for tenants in this situation. However, those vary from one location to another. It may be a good idea to ask a lawyer before pursuing any type of eviction.
For commercial properties, the eviction process generally has less protections for the tenants, if any. It is important to note that commercial evictions are handled as business contracts. This means that a landlord may be able to evict a commercial tenant for any or no reason. But, there may be financial consequences for breaking a Commercial Lease without a reason. If a business tenant cannot afford to pay rent, however, they may be willing to vacate voluntarily to cut costs and losses. To end a Commercial Lease early, reviewing the agreement with an attorney first can help you understand the potential legal consequences and remedies.
Can I evict a tenant who violates the Lease Agreement?
If a tenant violates the Lease Agreement, a landlord may be able to evict them. Oftentimes, however, a single violation may not be enough, unless it is a serious violation that cannot be corrected. Habitual violations, or regularly disturbing other tenants, however, may be serious enough to warrant an eviction, especially if an opportunity was provided to correct the problem.
For example, if the apartment being rented has a no pets policy and you discover that your tenant has a pet dog, you may be able to start the eviction process and send an Eviction Notice. An Eviction Notice will usually give a tenant a limited amount of time to fix the cause for eviction. So if that tenant rehomes their dog within the time allowed for by the notice, you may no longer be able to evict them. The same may be true for failing to pay rent on time, causing a disturbance, or damaging the property. If a tenant fixes the problem listed in an Eviction Notice, an eviction based on that reason may not be possible.
If a tenant does not pay rent on time, can they be evicted?
Some cities and counties allow a buffer period for rent payments, but a tenant who is habitually tardy can often be evicted. It may not be obvious, but if your tenant has not paid rent in a certain month or for several months, then there will be grounds for eviction.
If your tenant is late on rent, you may want to send a Late Rent Notice. It may just be a simple mistake, or there may be something else going on. You may even want to consider offering the tenant a Late Rent Payment Agreement to allow them to catch up on rent over time. Nevertheless, keep a copy of all communications with the tenant. This way, should your case end up in court, you can prove you gave the tenant a chance before moving forward with an eviction.
What can a landlord do if a tenant damages the property?
It is important to distinguish damage from normal wear and tear. Scuffs on a floor, worn-out carpet, or fingerprint smudges near light switches usually do not qualify as damage. But if your tenant knocks out a wall or accidentally runs their car through the garage door, then that is a different story.
Keep in mind that state or local law may ban deducting regular wear and tear from a security deposit. Additionally, your tenant may be able to make the repairs on their own, or by hiring a contractor. When something is an accident, it may be worthwhile to allow the tenant to pay for the damages and stay. In the garage door example, if your tenant picks out a replacement and clears it with you, then pays for the door and installation, you may want to reconsider pursuing an eviction. That said, your tenant should not make any major changes or repairs to your property unless they clear those changes with you, or are allowed to make them by your Lease Agreement.
If a tenant refuses to fix or pay for damage they caused, you may be able to move forward with an eviction. If you do not want to evict the tenant, you may file a regular lawsuit just for the costs of the damages and repairs. However, as part of an eviction case, in addition to asking the court to remove the tenant, you may ask that the tenant pay for the damages and repairs.
Is it legal to kick out a tenant that is breaking the law?
While you can often evict a tenant if they are breaking the law, there are still limits to what a landlord can do. Additionally, the broken laws need to be related to the property. For example, a landlord cannot evict a tenant because police arrested them for shoplifting from a market across town. However, a landlord may be able to evict a tenant if they are selling drugs from their unit.
In these rare scenarios, a landlord still cannot physically remove a tenant themselves. Changing the locks, shutting off utilities, or taking other actions to stop the tenant from using the property may lead to a constructive eviction claim by the tenant. These claims can have severe legal consequences for landlords. Landlords may want to consider speaking with an attorney, then simply documenting what they observe, contacting the authorities, and starting the eviction process.
If you have questions about eviction, reach out to a Rocket Lawyer network attorney for affordable legal advice.
This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.