General Eviction Requirements
There are three steps to a lawful tenant eviction: providing proper notice, filing a legal claim if necessary and the actual eviction process if the tenant refuses to leave. At each stage, the law imposes requirements which landlords must meet. Landlords who try to cut corners may find themselves with reduced legal recourse against a tenant who refuses to leave.
Landlords must provide tenants with proper notice of their desire to have the tenant vacate the property. In most instances, landlords must also allow tenants to remedy the reason for eviction, if possible. This means that if a tenant is behind in rent, the landlord must allow the tenant an opportunity to pay the back rent within a specified time determined by the law. If the tenant does so, the eviction cannot go forward.
If a tenant refuses to remedy the stated reason for eviction and refuses to vacate the property, the landlord must approach the court to obtain a judgment for "unlawful detainer" against the tenant. The tenant receives notice of the lawsuit, and has the opportunity to present his or her side of the dispute in court. Depending on the complaint by the landlord and any defenses raised by the tenant, the judge may grant the landlord's request and allow the eviction to go forward, or refuse the landlord's request and allow the tenant to remain.
If the court grants the landlord's request, the law requires the landlord to grant the tenant a certain amount of time to vacate the premises. If the tenant fails to vacate the property within the time specified by the court, then and only then may the landlord begin the process of evicting the tenant. The landlord must provide a copy of the judgment to the local sheriff, who schedules and carries out the actual eviction.