How to Evict a Tenant: The Definitive Step-by-Step Guide

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As landlords, we hope to avoid costly (and stressful) tenant evictions. In reality, sometimes evicting a tenant just comes with the territory. If you’ve found yourself wondering how to evict a tenant—or if perhaps there’s another way out of your predicament—you’ve come to the right place. This step-by-step guide will walk you through the entire eviction process, from hiring an attorney and notifying the tenant, all the way through to your court date and tenant removal.

All of my hopes and dreams began to crash down around me with one simple question from my parents:

Well, Brandon, what are you going to do if your tenants don’t pay rent?”

I had no idea.

Make them?” I thought, naively.

Go bankrupt?” I feared, unnecessarily.

Kick them out?” I hoped.

You see, nearly 10 years ago, I decided that rental properties were going to be my ticket to financial freedom. I was bitten by the bug and could think of very little else, until that simple question stopped me in my tracks.

What would I do if a tenant didn’t pay rent? 

This is how I first discovered BiggerPockets a decade ago. I used an online search engine and typed in those words: “What to do if tenants don’t pay rent?” What I discovered was a community of others who had “been there, done that” and had answers.

I find it incredibly rewarding that today I am able to repay that favor by explaining to you exactly what to do when tenants don’t pay rent. Of course, there are a lot of other reasons you may want to evict a tenant (usually for lease violations or because they’ve stayed longer than they were supposed to) and this guide will help you as well.

This post is going to cover exactly how to evict a tenant. But it’s going to go even deeper. We’re going to explore some ways that you, as the landlord, can navigate these muddy waters and maybe solve the problem without resorting to the “eviction” route.

How to Evict a Tenant: 3 Rules to Understand

1. Not paying rent is a serious thing.

The tenant is stealing money from your bank account. You wouldn’t let your neighbor, friend, or even your own family gain access to your checking account and remove hundreds of dollars against your will. So why would you allow a stranger to do so?

You may think I’m being dramatic, but it’s the truth. So first, don’t think of late rent as a mere inconvenience. Recognize it for the serious issue that it is.

2. This WILL happen to you, and there are answers.

This is a very normal thing, so don’t freak out. You’ll get through it. But nevertheless, it’s best to have a system in place and know exactly how to deal with it when it occurs. This way, you can jump on it immediately, giving you the best chance for recovering that rent. This post hast been specifically designed to teach you how to evict a tenant with as little pain as possible.

3. Eviction rules are incredibly state-specific.

In other words, how to evict a tenant in your state may vary from the next. The entire eviction process is governed by the rules and laws of each individual state. So everything below about how to evict a tenant is just general practice. Specific days and dates will require you to do a little research into your state’s landlord-tenant laws. Below, I’ve placed links to the landlord-tenant laws regarding evictions for all 50 states.


How NOT To Evict a Tenant

I recently heard of a landlord in my town who was dealing with a delinquent tenant and decided to take matters into his own hands. He waited until the tenant was out of the house, went into the property, and began taking stuff.


Not only is this tenant still in the property, but the landlord now has a lawsuit to deal with.

Please, please, please don’t go “outlaw” and take the eviction process into your own hands. I know you’ll want to. But don’t. This is what’s known as a self-help eviction, and it’s illegal in most of the 50 states. (And a bad idea in all of them!)

Don’t change the locks. 

Don’t remove the windows and doors. 

Don’t shut off their utilities. 

Don’t take their stuff.

You’ll have enough drama to deal with trying to evict the tenant. Don’t compound it by making yourself look like the bad guy when it comes time to stand in front of a judge. Follow the rules, follow the laws, and let the eviction process work.

What to Do Before Filing Eviction on a Tenant

Evicting a tenant is a messy business. It can be expensive, stressful, and overwhelming—especially if you are new to the process. Therefore, I believe it is in your best interest to solve the problem outside of the eviction courts first (if possible). This doesn’t mean letting the process drag on for weeks, but there are some quick actions you can take to avoid an eviction. Let’s talk about those now.

1. Preventative Eviction-Avoidance

If you are trying to figure out how to evict a tenant, most likely you are stressed and angry at that tenant. However, understand that in most cases, evictions can be prevented with proper landlording practices. For example, by carefully screening potential tenants, you can avoid the most disastrous ones. By being firm but fair with your tenants in regard to late fees, you can avoid allowing your tenant get months behind in rent. Sometimes, no matter how great of a landlord you are, certain tenants just suck. The fact that you are reading this article tells me this may be the case for you.

Related: 7 Advanced Tenant Screening Tips (So You’re Not Fooled by Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing)

2. The Phone Call

When a tenant’s rent is not received by the due date, the first thing I typically do is call them.

Of course, many landlords skip this step (and with repeat offenders, I skip this also). Most of the time, when the rent is late, it’s because the tenant simply forgot or there’s another easy explanation.

If you cannot get in touch with the tenant via their phone, you can try emailing them if you have their email address. If you can get in touch, usually they’ll say something like, “Shoot, OK… I’ll pay that today. I forgot, sorry.” I always remind them to be sure to include the late fee with their payment.

As much as you might want to be the nice guy here and waive the late fee, remember that late fees are designed to train the tenant to make rent a priority. By waiving it, you simply demonstrate that you have the power to waive it any time they ask.

Now, if you get in touch with the tenant and they don’t have the rent, you have a problem. Most likely, you’ll hear the words, “Can you work with me?”

Should you? Maybe. Maybe not. Let’s talk about that next.

Should I Work With My Tenant or Evict Them?

Many tenants will request that you “work with them” when they know the rent will be late. Deciding to work with them is a bit of an art form. There is a strategy for doing so that won’t leave you in the lurch if something goes wrong. But before we get there, let’s talk about the three most common reasons why rent is usually late:

1. Priorities

I see a common pattern with late rent, and it’s caused by the fact that there are more than four weeks in a month. In April, the tenant might get paid on the third and the 17th. Then in May, their paychecks may land on May first, 15th, and 29th. Then in June they are paid the 12th and 26th; in July, the 10th and 24th. As you can see, paydays sometimes come more often than twice a month, and tenants have a hard time getting used to that. In the dates above, the tenant would likely use their May 1st paycheck for May rent.

Then they hopefully would use the paycheck from the 29th of May to pay their June rent. But then that check on June 26th comes around, and the tenant realizes they still have a full week until rent is due, and they really need that money for something else, so they say, “I’ll just spend this paycheck and use the next one for rent.” But the next one doesn’t come until July 10th, so the tenant calls on the fifth of July and says, “My rent is going to be late because my paycheck doesn’t come until Friday.” As if some freak occurrence caused their paycheck to be delayed. I see this situation play out almost every single month with our rentals.

2. Illness or Job Loss

Despite what the media might have you believe, job loss and illness are actually pretty uncommon reasons for unpaid rent. But when this is the case, it’s incredibly difficult to navigate. Naturally, we want to be kind to people and help them. We are not machines; we are human beings. However, it can be tough to know what is true versus what’s just a “sob story.” I wish I had an easy-to-follow guide for deciphering this, but there just isn’t one. Even if it is the truth, is that your responsibility? You’re running a business. You cannot be profitable if you cater to everyone’s problems. In fact, by being strict during difficult times, you may help keep their priorities straight and encourage them to work harder to get a new job or pay their other bills some other way.

Generally, I’ve looked at these situations like this: When someone is going through a tough time, the rent must be paid. The question is, will I pay it out of my own personal checking account? Or will I make the tenant pay it? This helps me to separate my feelings from reality. If I would write a personal check to this tenant for $1,000 because I want to help, then it’s a real enough situation where I might work with them on their $1,000 rent. But if not, I won’t. There are plenty of people in my own family who are struggling financially. I would rather give $1,000 to them than to my tenant.

I think the best way to continue talking about this is by sharing two real-life case studies with you. Each involves tenants who have been late with their rent payments recently. (Their names have been changed.)

Late-Payment Case Study #1

Luis was a single, hard-working guy who rented a small 1-bedroom house from us. One month, he called and explained that his paycheck wasn’t coming for several days and he needed a few more days to come up with the funds (probably because he spent his previous paycheck). We explained that he’d need to pay the late fee and the daily late fee. We asked him for an exact date in which he would be paying the rent. He said he could pay on the 11th. We told him, “That’s your choice, but you will receive a three-day late notice from us, and that starts the clock ticking. On the 12th, we have to file for eviction. So just make sure it’s paid by then, with the late fees.” The check came in on the 11th, along with the late fees, and Luis was back on track after this.

Late-Payment Case Study #2

Lana was a single mom of three kids who lived at our apartment complex. Although she was a nurse and made good money, she always struggled with paying the rent on time. She received late notices from us numerous times. Additionally, her family was incredibly messy. Garbage would literally pour out of the doors and windows of her unit. She was not one of our favorite tenants. One month, the rent didn’t show up (as usual), and we received no phone call.

We served the three-day notice, but heard nothing. The 10th of the month came and still, after repeated phone calls (and even stopping by to knock on her door), we could not get in touch. Finally, we sent a text message that said, “Eviction is being filed tomorrow, at which time it will be too late to stop. Can we talk?” Within a few minutes, we finally received a phone call. Lana stated that her paycheck was late and asked if we would work with her. We asked about the situation. She ignored the question, “Where did the last paycheck go?” When we asked about the exact date that she could pay, her response was, “I don’t know, maybe the 28th of this month.” We told her that would not work for us, and we would have to file for eviction. She hung up on us. Eviction was filed and within three weeks she had moved out, leaving us with a disaster of a unit. We did try Cash for Keys with her as well, to no avail.

As you can see in the examples above, we are not opposed to working with someone. In both cases we protected ourselves against loss (we still served the notice, and we still charged the late fee). However, in case #1, we worked with the tenant, as he maintained communication with us and didn’t demand an excessive amount of time. Working with case #2, however, would have resulted in disaster. We may have received the rent on the 28th, of course, but by then, the rent would be almost a month late. Would she have rent money for the next month, due just four days later? Of course not. And the pattern would repeat indefinitely until she most-likely would have  flat-out stiffed us some month in the future.

If you are going to work with a tenant, only do so if you understand the situation. In other words, ask them why the rent is not paid. Explain the two-week paycheck problem to them, as we discussed above. Make them walk backwards with you through their paychecks if needed so they understand that getting paid every other week actually means they should be ahead on their rent. Then, find out exactly what day their paycheck will come in, and hold them to that. Never let a tenant get more than two weeks behind. Only work with them within the bounds of the law, protecting yourself.

Cash for Keys

Cash for Keys is a controversial process debated often in landlord circles. Cash for Keys is the event of giving your tenants money to leave the property, avoiding the eviction process altogether. I’ve used this system several times over the past few years to great success; however, before throwing money at your tenant, let’s talk about the specifics.

The idea behind Cash for Keys is simple: Giving the tenant money to leave is cheaper than paying an attorney for an eviction.

Think about it: Evicting a tenant will likely take a month or longer, depending on your state. It will cost you several thousand dollars in legal fees to do so, on top of the lost rent for at least a month and maybe two. Then, you have to deal with the clean up of a tenant who was just evicted, which, I guarantee you, isn’t very pretty. All in all, an eviction could cost you around $5,000 or more.

What if you could just offer your tenant $500 to leave the property in good condition?

Keep in mind, $500 is just an example. Maybe you want to give more? Maybe less? It will depend on the unit, the tenant, and the motivation. But $500 is usually enough to encourage someone to leave.

If you are going to try Cash for Keys, use the following 7 principles:

  1. Explain to the tenant, in detail, what they need to do to get the cash (the unit must be in move-in ready condition, so they have to clean it).
  2. Give the tenant a specific date to vacate, no more than four days away.
  3. Give a three-day notice to pay or vacate anyway (we’ll talk about this below). This way, just in case they don’t leave, you will not have lost much time.
  4. Never give the tenant money until they are completely out and have turned over the keys.
  5. Meet the tenant at the property and verify that the unit is, indeed, broom clean.
  6. Be safe. Take someone with you when you meet the tenant.
  7. If all looks good, have them sign a letter documenting that they are relinquishing their tenancy effective immediately. Have them sign and date it. Then give them the cash.

That’s Cash for Keys, an alternative to evicting tenants. Yes, it stings your pride. It feels so un-American, like the bad guy is getting away with the crime. I know some landlords flat-out refuse to even consider this idea because it feels so wrong. However, the truth is this is not personal, it’s business!

It’s like one of my favorite scenes from one of my favorite movies, Oceans 11. Brad Pitt’s character tells Andy Garcia’s:

“Are you watching your monitors? Okay, keep watching. In this town, your luck can change just that quickly. Take a closer look at your monitor. As your manager’s probably reporting to you now, you have a little over 160 million in your vault tonight. You may notice we’re only packing up about half that. The other half we’re leaving in your vault, booby-trapped, as a hostage. You let our 80 million go, and you get to keep yours. That’s the deal. You try to stop us, and we’ll blow both. Mr. Benedict, you could lose 80 million dollars tonight secretly or you could lose 160 million dollars publicly. It’s your decision.”

Mr. and Mrs. Property Landlord: you could lose $500 dollars this month secretly or you could lose $5,000 this year publicly. It’s your decision.

That said, Cash for Keys doesn’t always work. Some tenants will refuse it. Some tenants will ignore it. In that case, you’ll need to continue the eviction process.

realtor giving house keys to homeowners

Should I Hire an Attorney to Evict a Tenant?

In most cases, yes, you should probably hire an attorney to evict your tenant.

Yes, you can do the job yourself and save a lot of money, but you could also cross one “t” incorrectly or dot one “i” the wrong way and lose weeks or months of work. The eviction process can be complicated. In most areas, the courts will not be as friendly to you as they are to the tenant. You already are facing a battle. To do it alone is dangerous.

To find a good attorney, ask for references from other landlords. This is one of the benefits to jumping into the BiggerPockets Forums and building relationships. If you are a BiggerPockets Pro member, you can also use BiggerPockets Meet to find investors in any zip code in America, and send them a message asking for a referral to a good attorney.

Another way to find a good attorney is to call your local county administration building and ask to speak to the person in charge of evictions. When you get him or her on the phone, ask which attorney files the most evictions in your area. This person will likely be a good attorney to talk with.

As you get more experienced with evictions (or if you are broke and you absolutely cannot afford an attorney), you could choose to do the eviction yourself.

But really, I wouldn’t recommend it.

How to Evict a Tenant: The Step-by-Step Eviction Process

At this point, you are ready to evict your tenant. This person has refused to pay or is completely unable to do so. As tough as it may sound, it’s time to begin the eviction process. Let’s walk though that process, step by step.

Step 1: Post or Deliver the Notice

The first “legal” step in evicting a tenant comes in the form of hand-delivering (serving) a notice to the tenant, letting them know of their grievance and what you are doing. The kind of notice served will depend on the reason they are being evicted.

  • If they are being evicted for non-payment of rent, you will serve a “pay or vacate” notice, also known as a “pay or quit” notice, to their home. This notice lets them know that they have a certain number of days (depending on your state’s laws) to pay the rent or they will be evicted. The notice should also explain the rental amount due, along with the late fees or penalties that are being charged.
  • If they are being evicted for other reasons, such as violating the terms of their lease (they moved in a pet, late-night partying, etc.), then they are served a “notice to comply,” which states that they have a certain number of days to rectify the situation or else be evicted.

Each state has different requirements for the notices that must be served. Be sure to check out your state’s process (links to all 50 states are above) to know which form to serve.

In most states, the notice can be taped to the door of the rental unit if no one answers the door. However, if taped, most states require that a copy of the notice also be mailed to the tenant. If you mail the notice, be sure to send it certified with return receipt from the U.S. Postal Service. This way, you can prove the document was delivered, but the tenant doesn’t need to sign for it.

Be careful to follow your state’s exact rules in regard to how this notice must be served. In some states, like Washington, the owner of the property may not serve the legal notice themselves. It’s also a good idea to record the date and time that the notice was served and whether it was handed to an adult in the home or taped to the door.

When it comes to the late-rent “pay or quit” notice, understand that once a notice has been served, collecting any amount of rent will likely start the clock ticking again, meaning new papers must be served going forward. Therefore, think twice before collecting a small amount from the tenant.

In addition to this notice, I like to send a personal letter to the tenant with the official notice to soften the blow a little. Legal notices can be very cold, causing anger and confusion for the tenant. The goal of the above letter is to get the tenant to communicate with us rather than simply burying their head in the sand (which is the common reaction for tenants going through hard times; they simply shut down). I want to make sure my tenants communicate with me and tell me what’s going on, so we can work out a plan that will avoid lawyers.

Step 2: File Eviction With the Court

After the minimum number of days have passed (as defined by the notice you served), it’s time to move forward with the eviction. If you hire an attorney, this is where the attorney will likely take over the process, letting you get back to your life. Be sure to give your attorney:

  1. A copy of the tenant’s lease
  2. Copies of the notice that was served
  3. A brief summary of the situation

If you plan to do the eviction yourself, the second step is to officially file the lawsuit with the court. (Yes, this is a lawsuit you will be filing, and it is also known as an unlawful detainer.) This is done at your local courthouse, though you may need to make some phone calls first to find out exactly where to go and what paperwork you’ll need.

Once filed, the court administrator will issue a court date for you and your tenant to show up in court and plead both sides in front of the judge. Of course, if you are using an attorney, the attorney will show up in court. If you doing the eviction yourself, you will likely need to be present.


Step 3: The Lawsuit is Served

Once the lawsuit has been filed in court and the court date is set, the tenant will be served the official “unlawful detainer” lawsuit. Most likely, this will need to be served by a third party. This lawsuit usually must be delivered directly to the tenant—taping it to the door is generally not allowed unless special permission is given by the court, which could set the eviction back several weeks. So hopefully the server can get the document directly into the hands of someone living at the property.

Step 4: The Court Date

When the court date comes, you will need to be prepared (or your attorney will need to be!). Make sure you bring with you:

  • The lease agreement
  • Any written communications between you and the tenant
  • The tenant’s original application, if you have it
  • The notice paperwork that was served
  • Written documentation of everything you’ve done so far with the tenant in regard to the grievance and eviction
  • The lawsuit that was filed

Generally, if the tenant does not show up to court and doesn’t respond to the lawsuit, they automatically lose. In my experience, this is generally how it goes down. I’ve done six evictions. Only once did the tenant show up in court, and she lost.

If the tenant does show up, the judge will hear both sides and rule either in the favor of the landlord or the tenant. If you (the landlord) lose the eviction, well, it sucks. It likely means you didn’t have all your paperwork in order, and you might have to start over at the beginning. However, if you did everything right, and you win the case, a judgment is issued against the tenant for the amount of money owed in rent, plus additional fees, such as court costs, attorney’s fees, late charges, and back rent.

Additionally, the court will order the tenant to vacate the premises within a certain number of days (depending on the state). This is done through a document known as a writ of restitution or writ of possession. This writ gives the landlord the legal right to remove the tenant. Usually the writ will allow the tenant a certain number of days—often between 24 hours and one week—to completely vacate.

Keep in mind, in some Northern states, evictions during the cold winter months can be put on hold until warmer weather. There’s simply not much you can do about this.

Step 5: Schedule with the Sheriff

Once the tenant loses the eviction, the landlord (or attorney) will need to take the writ of restitution to the sheriff. That’s right, you cannot physically go and remove the tenant’s stuff from their home without a sheriff. You’ll have to pay another fee to the Sheriff and fill out some more forms, and an eviction date will be set. The sheriff’s department will likely go to the home and post their own notice, giving a date and time that they will be at the home to remove the contents.

Step 6: Remove the Tenant (with Help)

Generally, the tenant will leave before the sheriff shows up, but it’s entirely possible that the tenant may still be there—and angry—when the sheriff arrives. The sheriff’s job is to keep the peace and physically remove the tenant if needed, but it is NOT their job to remove the contents of the property. They will simply supervise you and your crew as you remove everything. I would recommend taking a video camera with you and recording the contents of the property the moment you enter the property behind the sheriff, so a tenant won’t be able to claim you “stole” their stuff.

Usually, the tenant’s stuff will be placed outside on the nearest public roadway, but not always. The tenant can request that the landlord store their belongings (yes, really), so you may need to store their stuff. Of course, the tenant would be required to pay for this, but there is no clear rule on when they need to pay for it. The reality is you may end up storing it and never getting paid back for the expense.

If the tenant does not request you store their stuff, the sheriff will remove the tenant and the belongings will need to be removed. At that point, you’ll need to change the locks immediately. The property is yours again.

Of course, this whole process can be very expensive and stressful. There may be ways to get back some or all of the money owed, since you do have a judgment. But collecting past-due rent (and other costs) is like trying to squeeze blood from a turnip. I haven’t been successful in collecting a penny thus far. Still, we report our judgments to debt collectors (who take a portion of any money they recover). At the very least, they’ll hound the tenant for many years to come. It’s a small win, but after a lengthy eviction, I’ll take it!

Frequently Asked Questions on How to Evict a Tenant

Although this might be the longest post I’ve ever written, there are likely topics I’ve still not covered. Therefore, I want to end this post with some of the most frequently asked questions about evictions. I’ll try to update this list in the future as well, so this will continue to be the top resource on the web for learning how to evict a tenant.

How Long Does an Eviction Take?

In most states, as long as everything goes as planned, an eviction takes about a month. However, in some “tenant-friendly” states, evictions can take up to six months.

How Much Does an Eviction Cost?

The state-required legal fees involved with an eviction are fairly light, usually no more than a few hundred dollars. However, the attorney fees and lost rent are the big cash-flow killers. You’ll likely spend between $1,500 and $3,000 on attorney’s costs, plus incur several months of lost rent and damages to the property. Cash for Keys doesn’t sound so crazy now, does it?

How to Evict a Tenant Without a Rental Agreement

If you don’t have a rental agreement with your tenant, it is still possible to evict. In most states, a tenant without a lease is treated the same as a tenant on a month-to-month lease. This can actually be a good thing for you, in that an eviction could be avoided by simply not “renewing” the month-to-month lease. In this case, ask the tenant (with a notice, usually 20 or 30 days) to vacate. Of course, if you have to evict without a rental agreement, bring with you every bit of paperwork you can in regards to the tenant.

Where Do I Get an Eviction Letter?

Before filing the lawsuit, you will need to serve the tenant with a notice, also known as an “eviction letter.” This is either the “Pay or Quit” notice or the “Notice to Comply” letter. These can be obtained from an attorney or online through sites like

Final Thoughts on Tenant Evictions

Alright, it’s time to wrap this post up. I want to end with one final word of encouragement. Evictions are annoying, but they are part of doing business as a landlord. Don’t panic when you need to do an eviction. Instead, move forward with confidence and take care of the problem. Once again, I do recommend you contact an attorney to help you with your eviction, at least on the first one.

Further Reading:

What other questions can I answer for you?

Leave your comments below!

About Author

Brandon Turner

Brandon Turner is an active real estate investor, entrepreneur, writer, and co-host of the BiggerPockets Podcast. He began buying rental properties and flipping houses at age 21, discovering he didn’t need to work 40 years at a corporate job to have “the good life.” Today, with nearly 100 rental units and dozens of rehabs under his belt, he continues to invest in real estate while also showing others the power, and impact, of financial freedom. His writings have been featured on,,, Money Magazine, and numerous other publications across the web and in print media. He is the author of The Book on Investing in Real Estate with No (and Low) Money Down, The Book on Rental Property Investing, and co-author of The Book on Managing Rental Properties, which he wrote alongside his wife, Heather, and How to Invest in Real Estate, which he wrote alongside Joshua Dorkin. A life-long adventurer, Brandon (along with Heather and daughter Rosie) splits his time between his home in Washington State and various destinations around the globe.


  1. Mindy Jensen

    Wow, Brandon. This is a really great post! I have never had to evict a tenant before, because I took your previous advice to screen like crazy. But after reading this, I feel like I could do it if necessary. I just hope it never, ever comes to that!

  2. Stephen S.

    A great article Brandon.

    I have done a few evictions, and in probably every one of the ways you mentioned. As you say; avoiding the need for them is the best way. My hardest lesson was learning that any eviction proceeding can be vacated – but no eviction proceeding can ever be made retroactive. So always file as soon as possible.

  3. James R.

    Informative article Brandon. I am filing it in my “BP” folder and hopefully will never have to read it again!!!

    Fortunately for me, I have never had to evict a tenant in 10+ years. I think this has to do with the type of properties that I own and the caliber of tenants. I never rent to anyone who doesn’t have something to lose and that is usually enough for them to avoid eviction at all costs.

      • Ryan Murphy

        Jacob – something to lose would be their good credit that would be damaged by an eviction on their record, and as I understand, even just having an eviction on their record will come up when they apply to rent somewhere else. In this case, it means screening tenants to make sure they are not already with a low credit score or a past eviction, where another eviction wouldn’t hurt them (hence, “nothing to lose”).

        I also think just having a significant deposit is also “something to lose” – at least around the same amount as one month’s rent. You can start the eviction process but still have enough money from them in the deposit to cover the month they haven’t paid, giving you some runway to threaten eviction without losing rent yet. You have to start the process while they still have money on the line, or the threat of keeping their deposit money doesn’t mean much (i.e. if it’s already the 23rd, it only means one week loss to them vs if you started the eviction process on the 10th).

        • Patrick McMahon

          I agree with your post, but want to throw in a caveat — keeping deposit for unpaid rent depends on your lease and state law. Some states only allow you to keep the deposit for actual damage beyond normal wear & tear, not for unpaid rent.

  4. Marcia Maynard

    Fabulous! Your case study tenants were ours too! This article is well thought out and quite helpful. Fortunately we’ve only had to do three evictions in 20 years. One note of correction…. in Washington State the property owner can indeed serve legal notices, such as “Pay Rent or Quit” and “Notice to Conform”, we do, and we document on the notice how it was served. We do all of our evictions with an attorney who specializes in this area of law. The attorney arranges for a process server to serve the court documents.

  5. Ryan Chlebek

    I’ve been very curious about this topic, both from a process and legal standpoint. Thanks for sharing a very in-depth process along with the case studies. Like others have said, hopefully I won’t ever need this, but having this in the hip pocket is a great resource.

  6. Omi C.

    Great post, Brandon – thank you. I’m going through my first eviction right now of a tenant that I inherited from the previous owner.

    What are your thoughts on trying to recover lost rent after the eviction is complete. Garnishing wages, seizing bank accounts, going through a collection agency, etc?

    • Brandon Turner

      Hey Omi,

      In my experience, I’ve never been able to collect anything. However, I still send the info over to a debt collector who charges nothing upfront but 50% of anything they collect. SOmeday, perhaps I’ll get it and it’s no more work on my end. So, yeah, I’d probably recommend the same. If the tenant actually seems to have money, you could get a garnishment and garnish wages or tax returns, but most tenants going through an eviction don’t have any money to begin with so it’s usually not worth the trouble!

  7. Kent Harris

    Houston Texas is an Investor friendly State. To hire an eviction service is $400 and they do all the work.

    I did cash for keys a few months ago. Law enforcement started asking me questions about a tenant and after that I had asked the Tenant to leave. The last thing I wanted was to get stuck with personal property in my rental while he was stuck at the Gray Bar Hotel! I gave him his entire deposit back and he had did some improvements, plus hired a cleaning service before he moved out! (The art of persuasion is telling someone to go to Hell and they can’t wait to pack for the trip!)

    The problem I am having now is a Tenant told me they were going to file for bankruptcy. I talked to a Real Estate Attorney and was told I can’t file for an evection until I go to court Bankruptcy court 2 months later. I was told by other investors that 90% of the time the Tenant will still pay the rent because they know after 3 months they will be out in the street. Hopefully this is the case.

    • Randall Floyd

      @Kent Harris

      Just speaking from personal experience, being an attorney myself, you will probably also want to speak with a bankruptcy attorney. While I’m not trying to say anything bad about the attorney you met with, and though there is overlap between evictions and bankruptcies, there’s a reason attorneys specialize in specific areas of law.

      There are so many different areas out there to practice as an attorney, it’s in an attorney’s best interest to pick one or two areas and get really good at them (it eliminates lots of problems in the future). So, even if he is the best real estate attorney in the state of Texas, the chances are high that he won’t know the ins and out of bankruptcy law.

      Just an aside, real estate law, for the most part, is state specific, while bankruptcy is done in federal court. There’s different procedures for each area of law, and much different rules. Luckily, with bankruptcy attorneys, you don’t need to find a local one if you don’t want to. There might be some experienced bankruptcy attorneys on bigger pockets that can give you some pointers.

      Finally, just my last rule of thumb, if you ever have any kind of doubt that knaws at your gut, in the long run taking care of it, especially if it only takes a day or two, will pay off. It could turn into one of the best decisions you ever made.

      Um … that’s it. Sorry, I’m an attorney, and I don’t really know the meaning of brevity.

      • Kent Harris

        The reason I am so panicked is an Attorney gave a talk at the RICH Club of Houston about the very subject and he had said it takes 2 months to get into bankruptcy court. The Tenant is also supposed to pay the Lawn crew and an additional deposit every month. Which I haven’t seen a check. Because of the recent flooding in the Houston area I might hire an Attorney to get the tenant out of there and a new tenant in that will meet there financial obligations. I talked to the largest Real Estate investor in the Houston area who has purchased 100s of houses and has never ran into this problem.

    • Andy H.

      Great article, Brandon, and just the information we may, unfortunately, be needing. We have a tenant who will be officially late on rent if not received by the end of today and have been trying to decide what to do about it (our first experience with this).

      Kent: Can you PM me the eviction service in Houston that charges $400? We have a rental in Conroe and may need that info.

  8. Cindy D.

    Thank you Brandon for this great post. I read in another thread that FL does not restart the clock if partial rent is accepted. But while reading the law in the link posted here It says:
    If partial rent is accepted after posting the notice for nonpayment, the landlord must:
    1.?Provide the tenant with a receipt stating the date and amount received and the agreed upon date and balance of rent due before filing an action for possession;
    2.?Place the amount of partial rent accepted from the tenant in the registry of the court upon filing the action for possession; or
    3.?Post a new 3-day notice reflecting the new amount due.

    I see the “or” in section 2. So does this mean a correction of the original notice or a new 3-Day notice thus restarting the clock? Thanks in advance for any clarification, newbie here.

  9. Steven J.

    Great article! I’ve got a tenant right now I’m compiling paper work on(complaints from neighbors, police reports, etc) as this tenant is just not working out. My biggest fear is that it would go to court and I wouldn’t have enough evidence or have done the paperwork wrong so I’m making sure I’m keeping up to date on what should be filed when.

    • jacob beard

      Just curious did you screen well or were there some signs during the screening process that lead you to believe this type of thing could happen? Im worried that someone who i screen and pass all the checks will still be a bad tenant

  10. Andrew Syrios

    Great article! It’s all about being fair but firm. Following through with your lease and policies (and the law) and not either getting angry and “taking matters into your own hands” like that one landlord you mentioned or falling for the endless stream of sob stories.

  11. David Hood

    I haven’t had to cross that bridge yet. But should I encounter a difficult eviction my plan is move in a new tenant with them. I have a ex-convict friend that I occasionally use as a painter/laborer and he’d have no problem bunking up for a few days with my difficult tenant.

    Anyone see a problem with that?

    • Kent Harris

      I don’t. The judge might though. Personally I would hire a Private Investigator and see if there is anything in the background that would motivate them to move out before hand. Like the tenant the police was asking questions about. I told the tenant that a neighbor had found out about their transgressions and was about to report them if they haven’t already. From what I understand he never returned to the house and the girlfriend and parents had moved everything out within a week. I told the parents that if the house was move in ready I would give the deposit back. Some of the light fixtures were replaced and the house was cleaned by a professional cleaning service. A week later I had new tenants. You just need to find a legal way to motivate them!

  12. Roberto Andrade


    Eviction is one key process in the Buy&Hold universe, and you need to be well prepared. As you wrote, no matter how mistake-proof is your tenant screening, you will face a “problem child” case. It is part of the game.

    “Quick tip” for the “Step One: Post or Deliver the Notice”: if you are posting the notice on the door, take a picture and /or take a witness with you.

  13. Susan Maneck

    In Mississippi it is the constable who has to carry out the actual evictions and they don’t really give you much notice. I had about two hours to come up with a crew to carry the stuff out. The tenant, on the other hand, was given three days notice. Fortunately this is the only eviction I had to carry out. One person I gave a three day notice to actually left. The other stopped paying rent just before I had to leave town. I was gone for a month, but luckily they were gone before I got back. One other tenant had a shootout at my house and I was very nervous about how to go about evicting them, but they left quietly probably because someone found out where they lived and tried to kill them.

  14. Michael Buffington

    Thank you for the refresher on evictions. Your timing is perfect on this article. It has been 15+ years since I’ve had to evict someone, but unfortunately I think I will be starting the process on one of my units in the next week. Not looking forward to it.

    Screening is the most important part to avoid evictions. Don’t sway from your screening criteria. I wouldn’t have to worry about an eviction if I followed my normal screening and listened to my gut feeling, but now I will have to pay the price.

    Wait for the right tenant even if it means a unit will sit vacant. It will cost less in the end!

  15. James Miller

    Self help is not outlawed in every state. It is just highly regulated in the residential context.

    Also you should always mail BOTH certified mail return receipt requested AND a first class letter. Return receipt means they do have to sign for it. The first class is there to show the judge that I’d the CMRRR letter comes back unsigned but not the first class, they received it.

    • Kent Harris

      Landlords and Tenants get too emotional about evictions. I much rather pay a service $400 then deal with it myself. I’ve had to do two cash for key’s move outs. I’m having my leasing agents tighten up on the qualifications so we don’t have to go through this. I have been doing this Sept of last year and currently have rent 9 houses and next month will be working on my tenth. I have made a lot of mistakes on the way. (Baptism by fire!) Hopefully I will never have to use an Eviction service, I have one lined up just in case.

  16. James Miller

    Just to be clear: I wasn’t advocating self help. Just pointing out that the article is incorrect when it says that self-help is outlawed. Texas has a self help statute but it’s more of a PITA to use in the residential context.

    I know plenty about eviction emotions. (I’m a Texas lawyer that does evictions here and there)

  17. Kent Harris

    I know you where not advocating self help evections. There is to much to know for a novice like me to do an eviction by myself. I would imagine that eviction companies and Real Estate attorneys make very few mistakes they cannot recover from. If a Landlord doesn’t know it is against the law to remove the front door or have the power turned off while the tenant still lived there would not give the Landlord any leniency with the judge.
    I did take an eviction class and they did advocate self help evections. I took the class so I would know what was legal and what was not. The class did help me with cash for keys program. One of the tenants I wrote up a letter of intent to let them know that they would be obligated to pay me the entire amount of the lease if I were to take them to court. And that the security deposit could not be used to pay the rent. Needless to say I had the rent check in 2 days and they moved out a couple of months later with the rent being on time after that. They did leave the place in excellent condition when they moved out. Two weeks later the place got rented out again and we didn’t even have a For Lease sign in the front lawn!

    • James Miller


      Sorry about your eviction woes; I’ve found that by raising my standard on the tenant, and giving a decent move-in discount, helps me attract high credit tenants that “care” about their credit staying good.

      If I do rent to a lower credit tenant, I try to get extra security deposit, or a really good personal guarantee from someone who is not judgment proof. That way I know I’m getting paid.

      Depending on your state, evictions for non-payment of rent shouldn’t be that bad to do on your own. I frequently help a new landlord on the first eviction and teach them what to do. They usually handle the initial evictions on their own from then. When I get involved (in TX) now-a-days is on the eviction appeal from the JP court to the county court. The county court is much more formal than JP, and having a lawyer gives an advantage.

  18. Kent Harris

    I live in Katy Texas, just outside of Houston. I guess Arlington Texas is a lot smaller then Houston and a lot bigger then Katy. Wished you lived in the Houston area. I guess I can retain you in the future as long as it doesn’t have to do with court. 🙂

  19. James Miller

    Are you in old Katy or new Katy?

    The TAA usually will hold classes for “learn to evict” for landlords to DIY.

    You should call your JP court and ask which morning is eviction hearing morning; you should go down and observe a few mornings. I think that will help you get more comfortable with the process.

  20. Ayodeji Kuponiyi

    Great post Brandon. I had to go to this election process with my first sign it before the year was even over SMH. I went through the process solo and won! However, the payment owed to me from the Eckstein it hasn’t been fulfilled. She initially was making small payments of $25 (over all she’s paid $75) and I haven’t heard from her regarding the rats. I tried calling/texting and I don’t get a response. Even though she has a judgment against her on file until she pays me back should I look for the debt collection company to help assist me to recoup the rest?

  21. Lawrence C.

    Thanks for the lowdown. Luckily we haven’t had to evict a tenant, but luck has a way of changing. I am going to share this article with my partners.

    BTW, when I click on the link for Pennsylvania statutes, only a statute for the disposition of an evictee’s personal property appears instead of an overview of prevailing Pennsylvania landlord-tenant law.

  22. Katie Rogers

    I like to take it on case by case basis with tenants that have a history of reliability. For example, one excellent long term tenant got a new job with HR Block, and rent was fine until the end of April. Turns out HR Block delays that last paycheck in order to calculate and include the commission for the tax season. I cannot see charging a late fee in this case just because my lease says I can.

    Your second case study is a good illustration of why using a month-to-month lease with all tenants is a good idea. If a tenant starts to wrack up a history of late rent payments, and is not clean, just give a 30-day notice.

  23. Matthew Kreitzer

    A thoughtful, well drafted guide on the legal side of landlord/tenant relations. However, any author posting guides on legal issues may want to familiarize themselves with the rules related to Unauthorized Practice of Law in the jurisdiction in which they reside, and ask local counsel about any legal ramifications they may face or any liabilities they may be opening themselves up to through the positing of these types of guides.

    The best advice anyone who isn’t a licensed attorney in your state can give you is “speak with a local attorney for more help on your particular case”.

    • James Miller

      No kidding. There’s so much “armchair” CPA’ing and lawyer’ing on BP. Some of it correct but a lot of it incorrect. Most people don’t realize that each state’s laws are entirely different and that the correct choice in one state may be illegal in another state.

      • Cindy Rahimi

        The truth is Brandon only stated the eviction process as a guide and referenced the actual “law” though state links. His post further recommended that investors seek legal counsel, especially on their first trip through the eviction process. To me, Brandon nailed it. I’ve been there and done that, Brandon described the process exactly the way it is in Texas.

        Mr. Kreitzer and M. Miller there is always room to educate the masses without a charge. Try it sometimes! This website is about informing those who want to be informed and how to make an honest living by way of real estate investing. If there is a legal issue with anything Brandon said, then state the area where his post is in error or can be improved so we all can learn from it.

        • James Miller

          If you look through my posts there is plenty of educational content. I even corrected Brandon on a TX issue earlier in the comments. However, there is a lot of unlicensed practice of law on BP. That’s a statement of fact, not opinion. Be careful what advice you trust from a website.

          Each state’s laws are different. Period. What may be legal in one state may be criminal in another.

  24. Thank you for the great post!
    I’m in the process of evicting a tenant and we are reaching the physical stage. If I did not receive a notice from the tenant requesting storing their stuff, am I able to leave it on the streets or take it to the dump? Do I have to notify them with what I did with their belongings?

  25. dolorse grover on

    as ive already won the question is .being as ive had to store there belongings and property.What do I need to get as proof of there collecting it?

    dolorse grover

  26. Cody L.

    Full diclsore: I didn’t read the whole thing, but the “What not to do” caught my eye. Having evicted and ‘got rid of’ 100’s of tenants, I’ll give my $.02 (this is coming from Texas, FYI)

    “Don’t change the locks.” – We do this all the time. At least lock people out. Yeah, you have to let them back in but at least you get them to come in and have a conversation vs. avoiding you when you try to contact them about rent.

    “Don’t remove windows and doors or shut off their utilities” – Agree.

    Don’t take their stuff” – BZZT! Totally disagree. We do contractual liens ALL THE TIME. In fact, my managers MUST do it. You just follow the guidelines that outlaw how you take their stuff and what you can’t take. I think ‘taking their stuff’ (legally, via the contractual lien guidelines in the lease/property code) is the most effective remedy you have as a landlord.

    We ended up with so much stuff from doing this that my friend wanted to open a thrift store called “lien on me”

    My best tip is this: Have a firm policy in place about what you do about non payment, and follow it. Never allow property managers (or yourself) to deviate.

  27. Richard Cook

    Anyone have experience doing this as an out of state landlord? That’s one of the things that worry me about managing out of state. Do you essentially hire an attorney to do all the steps and hire a crew to remove their property? I imagine that adds a lot of dough to the process…

  28. Jeff B.

    re Cash for Keys. IMO, the object is to have possession so it can be re-rented with a GOOD tenant.
    Dead right to get signature of surrendering possession for $xx in cash, but
    imo forget about getting it back ‘broom clean’ – – specify “without damages” (aka holes in the walls or broken fixtures). The cleanup and make ready is just another component of the eviction expense (and I track that along with the Bad Debt).

  29. Nathan G.

    I’m a property manager with 200+ units and can attest to the accuracy of your instructions. It’s difficult to address everything, but I can’t imagine doing a better job! I’ve got the experience to know about everything you discuss, but my life would have been easier if you had shared this six years ago so I wouldn’t have to learn through personal experience! 😉

  30. Asem AbuAwad

    Thank you Brandon for the awesome insight.

    As a newbie REI and a new member of BP, I think many people might be discouraged and brush off the idea of REI as a whole just because of this topic. What would you advise starters thinking this way?



  31. I have a question. I am a first-time landlord and I am having issues with my current tenant who is still under a lease agreement. I already know that I will probably have to wait until the end of the lease to kick them out. The day after the lease is up, and they are still there, can I evict them and collect the rent for that month as well? Not that I am trying to get paid and rid of them at the same time but if I am going through the eviction y process, can I collect the rent seeing as though they remained in the apartment? Will this look bad in housing court?

    • Brandon Turner

      Hey Daniel,
      While every state could be different, and I’m not a lawyer, my assumption would be that it’s okay to accept rent until the day you serve them an official notice to evict. For example, when I have a tenant that I don’t like, I wait until the final rent comes in, and then I issue the notice that I’m not renewing their lease. In Washington State, this is a 20 day notice, which works out well. They pay rent on the 1st, and then on the 2nd I give them that 20-day notice. If they don’t move out by the end of that month, then on the 1st day of the following month I issue the “Eviction notice” and kick them out. Hope that helps some! I would also ask a lawyer in your state this question – you might get a different (better) answer!

      • Thank you so much for your help. For clarity, my tenants are under lease agreement until 6/30/2016. So when I collect rent on 6/1, I should give them a notice that I will not be renewing the lease. NY law is thirty day notice state, so if I provide them this notice the same day they pay that rent, that would cover that requirement. If they are still in the apartment on 7/1/16, I issue an eviction notice. On 7/1/16, if they are living there is it wrng to collect rent while they are living there and fighting the eviction through the court system? Or would that void my eviction attempt?

  32. Georgia Baker

    Eviction is scary Brandon, so glad I found this article. Im advertising to rent my condo, it will be my first rental space. I was asked the question, “what if they don’t pay?”. just yesterday and I had no idea. Yes my stomach dropped, but these blogs, podcast, and forums are very helpful. Now that I know, cash for keys is a options, that will be my first approach when in this situation accrues. Thanks for the info.!

  33. Lisa Marple

    I have a question that I don’t see covered here, but it is a quite unique situation. My mother in law was given P.O.A. for my husband (who is in prison). She moved my things into a storage unit and signed a FIVE YEAR lease with my brother-in-law. Thus was about a year ago. My husband dissolved her P.O.A. six months ago and gave it to me. He then told her (verbally) that he wanted his brother out and me in. She said okay but requested ‘more time’… ‘the beginning if the year (2016)”….”February or march”. This was back in September. I decided to be nice and give the time requested. I just filed an eviction this morning. She is irate. Is there any way that the courts could actually allow him to remain in MY home for 5 years? She is no longer the P.O.A. and has no say in my husbands affairs and we are still married so it is my property as well. I’m just wondering if she has a leg to stand on if she decides to fight me on this

    • Cindy Rahimi

      Lisa you need to refer to your state laws on this matter because some states are “community property” states (such as Texas) when it comes to real property. That means if the house you are referring to was bought during the marriage of you and your husband, then the house was always jointly owned. That also means your mother-in-law never controlled your part of the property through the P.O.A., but here is the best part. She is now liable to you for your half of the rent and probably other damages for temporary housing, etc. Lisa, this is really a good place to hire an attorney because you have more things going on than just an eviction.

  34. Melissa Szanati

    Geeze! Even after working in property management for years I didn’t know half of this! Thank goodness we’ve never actually had to go through the process while I’ve worked for my building. We serve a few 5-days (IL) but people always eventually pay within the month.

  35. Thank you for the advise, I hope this information helps my company. Im looking for ways to speed up the eviction process in IL. Unfortunately, I live in a tenant friendly state(Chicago IL) that makes it soo difficult to evict our tenants. Some evictions are done in 4 months or if the tenant moves out willing. During the winter months it can tale up to 7 months to evict a tenant . Our last eviction we started in 3/2015, we just received the order of possession for 2/12/2016. Our screening process is very strict but for some reason we still end up having to evict a tenant with good credit score.

    • Your comment brings up two points. 1. tenant-friendly states. In a landlord-tenant relationship the power differential already rests with the landlord, so a tenant-friendly state levels the field a bit. Of course, some tenants exploit the process, but as Josh and Brandon have often pointed out, it is landlords who have the bad reputations for exploiting the power differential. Human nature is such that landlord-friendly states are positively oppressive to tenants.

      2. Reliance on credit score. Credit scores give some information, but a credit score will not tell you what a landlord really needs to know. Is the tenant clean and quiet? Is the tenant responsible with other people’s property? Will the tenant pay rent on time? Some great tenants do not even have credit scores because either they are from another country, or they are an American who spent significant time in another country. Some screening processes are “strict,” yet fail to address the important questions.

      BP’s Marcia Maynard specializes in lower-income tenants and has had only 2 evictions in 20 years. You might want to compare your practices with hers (See podcast 083), and make the appropriate changes.

  36. Glad I have not had to evict very often because of my screening process and the rent I set. Also glad that evicting process is very easy and very inexpensive in SC.

  37. Does a 30 day notice to vacate have to be given and start on the day rent is due? Or, can it be given on any day of the month, as long as the vacate date is not before 30 days?

  38. Good information here. I let me ex-girlfriend move back in and she brought everything this time including things from storage. After a month or two I began to see what she was really all about just using me for free rent and partying out all the time while I am working. I gave her a notice to vacate and she is going out every night in miniskirts trying to find a new man to house her.

    This has been the longest month of my life but 4/16 she has to get out and its entirely ackward situation. I live in Houston and paid 400$ for an eviction service 79$ for teh notice to vacate letter. The police officer told me over the phone if she takes anything while she moves out that is Theft and criminal so that gives me some reassurance. But I am worried she will kick holes in my wall dump tomato sauce all over the carpet and walls something crazy. I have her social security number, but is there anyway to ensure that if she does damage my property I can get some money? I have home owners insurance could i file a claim that way if the damage is more then my deductible?

  39. Terri Mccullough on

    Thank you for the information and for reminding me this is a business. I’m going through a nightmare eviction as we speak. My tenant knows the system and how to play it like it’s her job. Wish me luck 5/18 when we finally get to court. I have rec’d direction from a lawyer. She can’t pay the rent but she is bringing a lawyer to court with her. Go figure. Hoping all my t’s are crossed and my i’s are dotted.

  40. I can’t find any information about a landlord not being able to afford to pay the utilities. All I hear is that it is illegal to shut them off. But if the tenant is not paying you rent, and now you cannot pay the mortgage on the property….then how is it illegal if you cannot afford to the pay the utilities? And what if your tenant is running up a $400 monthly electric bill by leaving all the windows up with the air conditioning or the heat running? Are you saying a landlord is still going to be fined and pay penalities because they have no income to pay the utility bills?

    • Nathan G.

      Can you call the bank and say, “I’m sorry but I won’t be paying my mortgage this month because the tenant didn’t pay rent”? Absolutely not!

      As a Landlord, you have to provide utilities. If those utilities are in your name and are not paid, you are the one that gets sent to collections and you are the one that takes a hit on your credit score. If they are in the Tenant’s name and the Tenant fails to pay, it’s their fault that the utility is unpaid they are the one the utility provider will go after. This is why it is CRITICAL you make the Tenant establish their own utility account. HINT: keep your name on he utility account as the Landlord so you will be notified of unpaid balances. This will also ensure the utility reverts back to you instead of being shot off when a Tenant fails to pay. You don’t want frozen water pipes!

      Some utility providers require utilities to remain in the Landlord’s name. They do this because Landlords tend to be more responsible and pay on time. In this case, charge the tenant a higher deposit that includes enough to cover a month of utility use. If the Tenant fails to pay the utility, you pay it out if your pocket (do not use the security deposit!) until the Tenant reimburses you. If they refuse to reimburse you, treat it like unpaid rent and evict. Then you can use the deposit to reimburse your account.

  41. Thank you for taking the time to respond. I was only asking a hypothetical question. But let’s take your second example of the utililty provider requiring the utilities to be in the Landlord’s name. What if you cannot afford to pay the utilities because you no longer have the rental income being paid?

    I know in a perfect world a landlord would always have plenty of months in reserve. But what if the Landlord has his own financial crisis, and does not have the means to pay the utilities? Is a judge going to still fine a landlord who can prove a financial hardship and cannot even pay the mortgage on the rental?

    I understand if someone is just being spiteful. But I am talking about if the person cannot pay…are there no exceptions?

    Or in another example…let’s say you have a roommate and it’s your mortgage with all utilites in your name…you only rent out the spare bedroom for one flat rate a month. The roommate hasn’t paid their portion of rent in a long time, and refuses to leave until you can fully evict. In order to come up with extra for the mortgage, you have to allow the utilities to get cut off. You shower at your parents house and cook there. Is the judge going to allow the roommate to win a lawsuit?

  42. Stephen S.

    I am a nice guy. I can be the nicest guy in the world. And I almost always am. To my friends and to strangers as well. And so long as my tenants make me believe that they are my friend – I will do almost anything to be nice to them. And I do.

    On the other hand; I am my enemy’s worst nightmare. I will never back down, I will never give up, and I don’t give a damn for compromising with someone who has established to me that they want to be my enemy.

    Some people of course may want to take a more reasoned position. But in either case my best advice to you is this:

    At the first moment you are legally able to – file for an eviction. And then do not back off for even a second – until the tenant is either paid up in full or gone. And the reason is this: Any Eviction can be vacated. No Eviction can be made retro-active. You can never get back wasted time. So always file the minute you are legally able to.

    And if you do – all the other questions about what-if this and what-if that will largely resolve themselves. There will be no: what I can’t afford to pay the utility bill because the tenant hasn’t paid for a long time. If they are not paying – get them out Now. No matter how nice either they or I am – if they are not paying there is no reason for them to be there.

  43. Lawrence Settles

    Has anyone dealt with a tenant appealing the judgement awarded for failure to pay rent? I was awarded a judgement from a tenant for failure to pay rent. The judge gave them 10 days to pay back rent or the eviction would proceed. As a stall tactic the tenant appealed, the court then gives them 20 days to pay the back rent and then every month they hve to pay their rent in escrow with the courthouse. There is a motion that has to be filed by me if the tenant has not been keeping up with the payments. The motion is terminate of the supersedeas. I am getting ready to take that to the courthouse, Im just curious to know if anyone has dealt with this and what actions did they take.

  44. If you are willing to evict your tenant, you must consider taking the services of the expert attorneys, who are professional in this field. The professional attorneys of any reputed law firm know how to deliver remarkable services for evicting tenants so that people can acquire a stress-free eviction service. The services offered by this reputed organization are quite notable regarding this aspect. I took their services and really became highly satisfied.

  45. How do owner occupy evictions work in your state?
    Most areas you can much more easily say you or a blood relative will be occupying the apartment and the courts will simply issue a time to vacate to the tenant. Give the tenant a certified letter mailed and let them know about 60 to 30 days in advance. Try to be on good terms and they may even leave without the need to evict.
    I have told 2 friends about this tactic and it has helped them be rid of painful tenants.
    Also I know in my state when you set up the court date it only has to be in the same county NOT town. Try to set the court date as far away as possible. I know the furthest courthouse in the same county (about 25+ miles away) is right next to my job so its perfect. More often the tenant will not show and you can get a failure and dismissal. I learned this trick from the marshall who delivered my very first eviction papers for me. He hated the tenants I had SO MUCH personally (from evicting them his entire career, long story) he taught me all sorts of tricks.

    Tenants can literally be human garbage.

    I normally keep a friendly basis with mine. I luckily find tenants that are fairly understanding, they see me working and know their rent is not wasted at casinos. I also removed the landlord aspect from their lives. I set up a deposit account at my bank and they go every month and pay there (or online). They no longer have to hand me money personally, they get a nice bank receipt, and its all on video. Once the money is deposited I simply move it to another account online, though they can not withdraw anyway.

    Also a tip I gave to a young show boater a while ago. If you have rentals in the lower income areas DO NOT show up in a brand new car, dressed to the nines to do ANYTHING. They will be insulted by this. They will become jerks with their rent money. This guy was having a hard time getting his rent but was showing up in a brand new acura dressed in suits. Throw on some beater clothes, carry a tool bag (even if you never fix anything) and buy a 300$ beater car. Its pretty simple psychology.

    • Salomon Lino

      I like your tip about filing in a far away courthouse as long as it’s in the same county. Regarding not showing up dressed to the nines, I’ve always done that, but when a bad tenant is a pro, they will use every trick in the book. I had one tenant claim they couldn’t move out because her teenage daughter just had a baby. As you can imagine, the judge let her stay through the winter months.

      • “…filing in a far away courthouse as long as it’s in the same county…” And people wonder why there are more and more regulations. It’s stuff like this that gave rise to most of the regulations in the first place.

  46. I am the sole owner of a townhouse in Georgia which I live in. My girlfriend lives with me. We do not have a lease agreement. I do not like her living here, but she will not leave. In October, I gave her a 60 day notice to vacate in December. Since then she got a job and made nice. So she is still here and I did not file in court to evict her. Now it is February and I want her out. Do I have to give her another 60 day notice or can I file now based on the previous notice? In general, how long is a notice to vacate good for in a court of law?

  47. My tenant is very late (more than a month) with their rent and the rental agreement has expired. Is there any legal way to evict them besides going the court route? I work a lot of hours and don’t want to have to take a lot of time off to sit in a courtroom.
    The property is in VA and I can’t get the link above to open.

  48. Salomon Lino

    Great post. I went through a difficult eviction many years ago. I had just lost my father and acquired a 4 unit. When the sheriff finally removed their items, I learned a great tip. In Illinois, they will not remove their appliances. I had to still deal with these angry tenants and allow them to come back for their stove and refrigerator. They became very confrontational. As you can imagine, they damaged my hardwood floors in removing their appliances, but I just wanted them out. From that point on, I never allow a potential tenant to bring in their own appliances into my buildings. Screen, screen screen all your potential applicants. Once you’ve had a bad eviction, you learn a valuable life lesson. Pick your tenants very carefully.

  49. Debra Hamren

    One thing your article wasn’t clear on is what to do if a temporary guest of a tenant refuses to leave. We are dealing with this problem right now. We served our tenant a 30-Day Notice and he moved out, but this ‘guest’ will not leave. There is no rental agreement between us and the guest and she has never paid us rent. Would you still consider her a ‘tenant’ in an eviction case?

    • Art Veal

      Typically when I have had this happen I will simply file my eviction as follows “John Smith & any unknown additional occupants” something to that effect and the court will clearly note that EVERYONE must leave. Although with this, you still have to go to court. Just to note I am in Illinois and not sure if this will apply where you are at. Ask an attorney.

  50. I had my birthday last night and there were 2 other birthday on the same day. My friends threw me into the swimming pool and other and this happened for 15 mins and there was some noise around 12:15am. The next day, we receive the following message:-
    This is your landlord.

    I saw that your unit and 2 more had a party last night and jumped in the pool after 10pm
    I see you on the cameras.

    A lot of people complained.

    Each tenant from your unit and the others is is being charged 100 per person.

    If you are 4 people submit 400 money order , if 5, 500

    You have 3 days to do or I will issue a 3 days note pay or vacate the unit

    Do we need to future rent if landlord wants us to vacate the apartment. We pay rent on time. What should we do?

  51. Art Veal

    Great guide. That cash for keys does sting my ego a little but it can often be a wise business decision. I live in Illinois the “friendliest” of the tenant-friendly states. Our evictions can take up to six months although I have learned about a “Use and Occupancy motion” It basically says that while we are in court about the past due rent, you agree to pay the rent for upcoming months going forward while we sort this out (adlibbing of course).

    This serves the purpose of stopping all the delay tactics because they have to pay the rent WHILE delaying things in court. If they fail to make a rent payment then they lose the court case! It works great in Illinois and I have yet to see a FREE tenant attorney beat it.

    Hope this helps someone.

  52. Joohn Cliiford on

    Nice guide on how to evict a tenant. Here describe step by step so that all can understand. First thing is why should you allow a stranger to do? The entire eviction process is governed by the rules and laws of our state. So everything below about how to evict a tenant is just general practice, but the specific days and dates will require you to do a little more homework into your state’s landlord-tenant laws. You don’t need to compound it by making yourself look like the bad guy when standing in front of a judge. Follow the rules, follow the laws, and let the eviction process work. Some days before I got to know about Rocket Eviction as an eviction service provider

  53. I was evicted by my LL 5 years ago. He never sent the curtesy “Eviction Letter” so many of these sites talk about. I remember it like it was yesterday… I was sitting in my living room when suddenly I heard something being taped to my door. No knock, nothing. I waited for the person to leave and then I opened the door to find the summons taped bold as day. I took it down and brought it inside, baffled.

    As a family we had depended on my DH’s overtime to get us through financial binds OT had dried up. the rental company had changed in the previous months we had gotten behind 2 months prior and were working with the previous LL to get current. I blame poor money management. The new agency put us on a strict payment plan if any of the payments were missed they would evict. We must have missed a payment.

    It was a balmy October day in Minnesota we took the light rail to the court house we met with the the rental agencies lawyer she was kind, she explained the process. We told her we meant to make good on our delinquency. We faced the judge answered some questions, explained our intentions. We were given a time frame somewhere between 15 and 30 days.

    Fast forward 5 years after I took repossession (as in I still reside in same the unit with my two children.) My DH and I have since separated. I typically pay rent by the 6th of the month as per my lease agreement before it is considered “late” by the 7th and a late fee accrues, triggering eviction. by the 3rd I usually get a call from the company.

    Two years from now it will be 7 years since my eviction. I have read that agencies will no longer report it at this time. It seems my case is the exception not the rule many LL’s are burned by their residents many LL’s are left holding the bag perhaps this is why the popular opinion is that “bum tenants” deserve 7-10 years negative reporting to warn other LL’s not to take a chance.

    My ex DH is struggling with finding a place to reside due to the eviction, which if I am not mistaken likely qualifies for expungement if we were to hire a lawyer. Legislation needs to change! The current legislation co-written by property owners and investors is designed to protect home owners and investors. Sure there may be some states where it might be more of a “headache and expense” to evict troublesome tenants. I consider that the cost of doing business in the USA. What I don’t think is fair however, is that a renter will be dogged by a mistake for almost a decade. In truth we need each other and some people deserve a second chance.

    It would be nice if I went to more blogs and sites that shared this opinion. Some of us don’t have the financial means to own multiple properties and “sit back” and “watch the cash flow in” as one commenter AKA property owner reported but I’d MUCH rather deal with the “headache and expense” of bad tenants than I would the unscrupulous LL’s, rent hikes “just because”, slum properties I’ve lived in over the years.

  54. Joohn Cliiford on

    Wow! Great Guide on How to Evict a Tenant. The Definitive Step by Step ideas given here all should read this post. I have no more idea about this. Recently my friend told me about Eviction Services of Rocket Eviction, which offers quick, efficient Nevada eviction services for apartment complex owners, high-rise condominium owners and other multifamily rentals in Clark County, Nevada. He is got benefited by this. Thanks for sharing.

  55. clay hartwig

    Just closed on our first investment property, a condo. Current renter is the Buddy of the seller. Current rent is less than my mortgage and condo fees not ,including insurance and is less than two-thirds of what every other apartment in the building rents for. Tenant has no lease and pays rent on a weekly basis. They knock on the door to introduce ourselves and ask him how much time he needed to find a new place resulted in” it’s the holidays man I’m not going anywhere, I pay my rent on time”. I stated that the rent would be going up, his answer was something about my buddy never said anything about me having to move out when he sold the unit or the rent changing. So here’s the real question should I bring a lease to him that fits my needs and matches the rest of the building or should I take note of his attitude and considered a warning to not even read to him. PS I’ve been informed by the association of multiple condo rule violations including is not having been approved by the condo association to rent there, subletting and pets. should I hire a property management company? A lawyer? Or months rent in cash for keys?

  56. clay hartwig

    Just a quick update on the previous post the next day he called and apologized profusely about his behavior and attitude what I did not know about my tenant and should have he goes to bed very very early because he gets migraines when he takes his nitro pill. our relationship is back on track and going good I was able to raise the rent simply by telling him I needed to raise the rent to make ends meet and asking if he needed anything fixed in the unit to make himself more comfortable will have to put in the new bathroom vanity very small 1. I guess the lesson is you can’t take everything on first impressions I thought I had a terrible nightmare tenant in a lawyer battle ahead of me and just speaking plainly and being nice we resolved everything and are back on track

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