Landlord-tenant laws rankings by state

9 Replies

This post marks the start of a journey to decide what state then area is the best place to invest in buy and holds. In general there are many criteria to consider when deciding what area to invest in like cash on cash return (cashflow v. appreciation), school quality, crime rate, etc. Since my risk appetite is not one for large losses (even if rare), there is one piece of data would overrule all the other commonly talked about data points when deciding the best area to invest in, landlord-tenant laws. In particular, how difficult/lengthy is it from the time a tenant stops paying rent to when they are evicted and the search for a new tenant can begin. Even with great tenant screening, if you have enough doors and your investing career is extended on a long enough timeline, you will need to evict a tenant. I dont have experience with being a landlord in any state aside from Colorado and I have not yet had to evict a tenant.

There are several articles below which show similar top states that are landlord friendly repeatedly. Whether those articles equate to an echo chamber is up to the reader to decide. I figured that I would create this one stop shop for landlord-tenant laws ranking by state and let the more experienced audience of the forum chime in with their more specific knowledge to either strike out a state that is marked landlord friendly or talk up a state that is marked as tenant friendly. Thanks for your input.

Article 1

Texas

Indiana

Colorado

Arizona

Florida

Article 2

Texas

Indiana

Colorado

Arizona

Florida

Kentucky

Georgia

Mississippi

Article 3

Texas

Indiana

Colorado

Georgia

Kentucky

Article 4

Arizona

Texas

Indiana

Florida

Colorado

Article 5

Landlord friendly eviction in priority order:

Colorado

South Dakota

Georgia

Montana

West Virginia

Tenant friendly eviction in priority order:

Maryland

Massachusetts

Pennsylvania

Tennessee

Vermont

Article 6 (full 50 state rankings with more specifics to why the states are ranked this way)

Ranked from most landlord friendly to least

West Virginia

North Carolina

Georgia

Wyoming

Louisiana

Idaho

Mississippi

Colorado

Ohio

Indiana

Florida

New York

Alabama

Illinois

Texas

South Carolina

Connecticut

Missouri

Maryland

Virginia

Utah

Michigan

New Mexico

North Dakota

Oklahoma

Iowa

Wisconsin

Tennessee

Kentucky

Montana

Massachusetts

California

Pennsylvania

New Jersey

New Hampshire

Minnesota

Washington

South Dakota

Kansas

Nevada

Maine

Alaska

Oregon

Nebraska

DC

Arizona

Rhode Island

Delaware

Hawaii

Vermont

Eviction Data

Since laws around eviction are potentially the most costly for a landlord, it warrants a look at state/area eviction data. This provides an interesting data point from two lenses when looking at whether a state is landlord friendly. Areas with high eviction rates/counts are areas with a lower quality tenant base. The other side of that coin is that areas with low eviction rates/counts may be low because the lawful process of eviction is so tenant friendly that landlords do not execute it as often as the higher eviction areas with swifter due process. It is not clear to me how to interpret this data without more context, like from the above sites.

The data easily manipulated The data reported by this site are admittedly not perfect. Their data does not include cash for keys or illegal lockout scenarios as part of the eviction rate/count. Their report shows more details as to how the eviction data was calculated.

List of states with simple landlord/tenant laws

Alabama

Alaska

Arkansas

California

Colorado

Connecticut

Delaware

Idaho

Indiana

Iowa

Kentucky

Maine

Massachusetts

Michigan

Minnesota

Mississippi

Missouri

New Hampshire

North Carolina

Ohio

Oregon

Rhode Island

Virginia

Washington

Wisconsin

Thanks for organizing all this info. 

Texas is a great place to rent. Low cost of living. Strong leaning towards LLs. Strong rental market. 

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@Shadonna N. for Rhode Island I’d recommend checking out the “Noncompliance by Tenant” section of the RI Landlord-Tenant Handbook, which is an unofficial human-readable explanation of the various landlord/tenant laws in Rhode Island.

Colloquially, local wisdom around here (RI) has it that our landlord-tenant laws are reasonably balanced, maybe a bit leaning toward the tenant, but that our neighboring state Massachusetts is much more tenant friendly.

In practice, in eviction court a lot depends on which judge you get, as is probably true in a lot of places. I’ve heard of a few pro-tenant judges and have never heard of any pro-landlord judges, so I’d say once you get to court there might be a further bias in favor of tenants but I’m not an attorney so that’s just anecdotal from my experience and what I’ve heard.

@George Wines your Article 6 has apparently eliminated Arkansas and replaced it with DC.

Arkansas and Missouri are both very landlord friendly states.

Updated over 2 years ago

Edited to add: From the page linked in your Article 6, "Arkansas is the only state where tenants can face criminal charges for failure to vacate"

From my understanding, Georgia is a state where it's fairly easy to evict a tenant that isn't paying rent. It should be in every state. The key remains adequate screening to put the right tenants in your property in the first place. We've had rent payment issues but are pretty firm with late fees, etc. We've received all of our rent that's due and thankfully have never had to evict anyone.

Wyoming is a very landlord friendly state.  We did pass a law a few years ago that requires a landlord to provide running water if it was originally provided in the rental when it started.  Evictions usually take 3 to 12 days.

Thanks for weighing in guys.

Sylvia B. Thanks for the note about Arkansas. It did strike me as odd that it was listed as one of the top landlord friendly states in several articles but listed near the worst landlord friendly states from article 6.

Washington just passed a whole slew of new tenant rights  and 'sweeping eviction reform' in SB5600. YMMV.

Thank you for this article.  I didn't know NV was so pro--tenant and I've had my eye on it.  Will do further research!

It's interesting to hear people talk about how tenant friendly places like California are and at least by this ranking my little backyard that is Delaware is the second most tenant friendly state in the country. It's certainly not sunshine and rainbows with regards to some of the hoops we jump through, but I also think that's the difference between being a casual investor, and treating it more like a business. At the end of the day it just means I need to have better systems and processes to ensure I'm working within the law.