4 Frequently Asked Questions on Evicting a Tenant

by | BiggerPockets.com

Evictions are annoying, but they are part of doing business as a landlord.

Don’t panic when you need to do an eviction—just move forward with confidence and take care of the problem. Once again, we do recommend you contact an attorney to help you with your eviction, at least until you are confident that you can complete it correctly yourself.

4 Frequently Asked Questions on Evicting a Tenant

1. 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.

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2. 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 several months of lost rent and damages done to the property. Cash for keys doesn’t sound so crazy now, does it?

Related: 10 Invaluable Lessons I Learned From My Very First Tenant Eviction

3. Is it possible to evict a tenant without a rental contract?

If you don’t have a rental contract with your tenant, it is still possible to evict. In most states, a tenant without a rental contract 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” and asking the tenant to leave with a Notice to Vacate (according to your specific state’s laws). Of course, if you have to evict without a rental contract, just bring every bit of paperwork and information you can about the tenant.

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Related: My Botched First Eviction (Or Why You NEED to Study Landlord-Tenant Laws)

4. 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 Vacate Notice or the Notice to Comply. These can be obtained from an attorney or online through sites like EZLandlordForms.com.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution for getting rid of a tenant. Hopefully you are well aware of the many different options you have for removing a tenant from your property, so getting rid of a bad tenant should not be an issue going forward.

[ This article is an excerpt from Brandon Turner’s The Book on Managing Rental Properties. ]

Any other questions about evictions? What has your experience been?

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 Forbes.com, Entrepreneur.com, FoxNews.com, 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.

7 Comments

  1. Marina Spor

    Interesting point about serving a notice to vacate rather than an eviction. What happens if the tenant is on a month-to-month rental agreement, stops paying, is given the notice to vacate, but they refuse to leave? Would I then need to follow the eviction process?

    • Dave Kishuni

      I once had to evict a non playing tenant from my multifamily building in NY in the fall. The judge said since i had five other units (never asked if they were rented or not) I can afford to keep the tenant until spring of the following year and granted the tenant six months of stay, without rent payment. I sold the property and moved to Florida.

  2. I didn\’t know you could evict a tenant even without a rental contract. I think that it\’s important to be able to keep control of your property and eviction is a way to do that. I wonder if there are companies out that that offer affordable eviction services to help property owners if an eviction gets messy or if they simply don\’t want to worry about paperwork.

  3. We won our eviction notice and got an immediate possession. We came to find later that the tenant moved and left the keys in the rental unit. Does that give us legal authority to take possession?

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