How To Evict a Tenant: The Ultimate Guide

59 Replies

This is a great guide.  I was just talking to someone from up here in Connecticut who is a BP member who is going through their first eviction and needed some help through the process so this post is perfect timing in that regard as well.

Thanks for putting out such consistent, relevant content.

This guide is spot on here in Colorado, specifically Arapahoe County. We just finished our first eviction and it was messy. 3 day notice to pay didn't work, cash for keys didn't work, they showed up to their court date, but we ended up settling out of court. They are supposed to pay us $50 a month until their debt is settled, but that is unlikely. I think I will take your advice and contact a debt recovery service to hound them. 

If anyone needs a recommendation for a great lawyer in the Denver area, feel free to contact me. 

Great Guide, I like how you kept it generic enough not to get someone in trouble by having them look up the specific state laws. I've been in this game a little over 5 years and been through about 6 evictions in our tenant friendly state of Connecticut. I even created a process map a few years ago to keep me on my toes when doing the evictions.  The last few evictions have been no shows which keeps evictions from start to finish about 6 weeks but on average they are about 3 months by the time they are gone.  I'll admit I would rather do the eviction than cash for keys.

I love, love this concept of cash for keys! Eviction is expensive... there is no loss in pride for cutting your losses and getting paying tenants again asap. BOOM. Business is business.

I agree.

First, understand that “not paying rent” is a serious thing

It always surprises me when a landlord waits a whole month to evict a tenant or tries to work it out with the tenant by letting them pay late. Owning an investment property is a business and it should be run like a business.  

Great article.

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

@George Paiva excellent flow chart! Question: Why do you prefer the full eviction process rather than "Cash for Keys" 

Great guide! Unfortunately, it's something you're going to have to do in this business.

I filed my first Unlawful Deatiner (Eviction) with the court today. i am a relatively new landlord, and I have taken the non-payment of rent too unseriously (love that first point), so he is 1.5 months behind, though I believe he has tried his best to keep up. Filed today myself at court without a lawyer. A bit distasteful, but part of the business.

My tenant already has a move-out plan, I anticipate it won't be messy (crossing fingers), and I just don't want him there a day longer than I need to. So I filed.

Part of it was just the experience of doing it. I want to figure it out. It's an expensive way to learn new things. I hope I don't have to go here much.

Originally posted by @James M. :

I filed my first Unlawful Deatiner (Eviction) with the court today. i am a relatively new landlord, and I have taken the non-payment of rent too unseriously (love that first point), so he is 1.5 months behind, though I believe he has tried his best to keep up. Filed today myself at court without a lawyer. A bit distasteful, but part of the business.

My tenant already has a move-out plan, I anticipate it won't be messy (crossing fingers), and I just don't want him there a day longer than I need to. So I filed.

Part of it was just the experience of doing it. I want to figure it out. It's an expensive way to learn new things. I hope I don't have to go here much.

 This is a helpful guide. James, I like your approach to treating your first time as a learning experience. We will all have our first times if we remain in this business. 

My advice to newbies is to treat the eviction process as a final exam. Do all of your homework. When showing up in court, have copies of any e mails or other documents to prove your case. Bring a spreadsheet that shows the payment history of the tenant. Bring everything that you can think of.

I had a difficult eviction around 2 years ago. My tenant was the only tenant that showed up with an attorney. The attorney interrogated me on the stand for approximately 30 minutes. I was fully prepared for that, but it was a nerve racking experience for sure. I won my case even before I was allowed to call my first witness.

If you are a person who is worried about how you will perform while being grilled by an attorney, then you might want to hire one to represent you. Most tenants in court that day did not have an attorney, but you never know if yours will. 

Good luck to everyone in the B.P. community. If an eviction is something you have to do, consider it an education. I know I learned a lot through mine.

I worked for a place for a little bit that had a rental mangagment company they waited two full months of unpaid rent to evict. I'm really glad I found bigger pockets. Opened my mind up the a whole new concept. Account Closed thanks bigger pockets for the great information. 

Here in NY the process is started with a "3 day notice" basically telling the tenant they have 3 days to pay the rent or the eviction process begins. In the past I have just mailed this and then after 3 days had the Petition and notice of petition served. This has ALWAYS held up in court until recently in a new court. they advised me the "3 day noticed" had to be "served". of course my argument was there are here so they know they are late. However, he made me start the process over from scratch. that said, what is the process in NY. does the "3 day notice" need to be served?

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A good effort…in a very, very general sense...BUT, as in most cases, trying to provide an overview on something so state specific as evictions misses important laws and nuances that could lead landlords astray and cause them to lose their case—or worse yet, violate the law. Some of the practical suggestions provided wouldn’t generally be considered good management practices or effective in Michigan, e.g. you can’t tape a notice to a door in Michigan and suggesting calling some tenants on the phone and not others could lead to fair housing complaints. Other suggestions on the process, including what forms are needed, will have the landlord coming up short on forms when filing their case—you need more than just a copy of the lease, copy of the notice and an explanation. (And, you better have the right copy of the notice—and the right number of copies of everything else.)

The information provided via the link to the Michigan landlord-tenant law booklet is very inadequate and doesn’t provide enough information to actually carry out an eviction effectively. There are 10 types of evictions in Michigan—each one has its own notice period, forms, etc. Choosing the right type of eviction is very important.

As for attorneys, district courts within most larger cities in Michigan will require you to use an attorney to do an eviction if your properties are held in an LLC—otherwise the court will hold that you're practicing law without a license. If you attempt to hide the fact that the property is owned by an LLC, the case will likely be thrown out and you could found in contempt of court. I'm not an attorney, and I'm neither for nor against them—but in some cases in Michigan you just can't do it without them.

Finally, I would discourage anyone from using forms found online from a national source that claims to have the correct forms for every state. I haven’t yet found a single lease online from such sources that is fully legal for use in Michigan and/or contains all the important clauses needed to make it effective. Find quality forms that have been tested for many years within your state. You don’t want to find out that the free or cheap lease you got online didn’t have the right font size for notices—it’s simply no fun to lose a case simply due to font size.

Finally, take a class on how to do evictions from someone knowledgeable within your state.  Happy evictions!

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