written by: Michelle Burton•edited by: Jean Scheid•updated: 10/8/2010
The legal eviction process is slightly different in each state, but overall, all landlords have the right to evict a tenant for non-payment of rent, illegal activities, disturbing the peace, or other lease violations. To begin eviction proceedings, the property owner must obtain a judgment.
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Tenants Role in Eviction
When a tenant does not pay his rent, it is legal for a landlord to evict. A lease is a binding contract, and if any terms of the lease are broken, the law allows the landlord to begin the legal eviction process and sue for unpaid rent. While eviction is tough for tenants facing financial trouble, eviction is no picnic for landlords either. What many tenants do not understand is that landlords also have someone to answer to – the bank. If a tenant does not pay rent, the landlord might not be able to pay his mortgage. If he cannot pay his mortgage, he could end up losing his property and the means to continue to provide rental housing for individuals that cannot or do not want to buy a home.
The legal eviction process for non-payment of rent begins with a letter that gives the tenant three days to pay the rent or move out. This notices is sometimes called a “Three Day Notice," “Quit Notice," or “Three Day Pay." The notice should include the date, and the time tenancy will terminate. It must also describe the property, it must include the reason for the eviction, and it must include the property owner’s signature.
The landlord can serve this notice anytime the tenant is behind in rent. If the rent is due on the first, the landlord has every right to serve an eviction notice on the second. Although in many cases, landlords will give a three to five day grace period to pay rent. In these cases, if rent is due on the first, it will be considered late on the fourth or the sixth of the month.
If the tenant does not pay rent within three days of receiving the notice or move out, the landlord can file eviction papers. Once the landlord goes to court and files a lawsuit, he must mail a copy of the summons and complaint and serve a copy of the documents in person. It is perfectly legal for the landlord to post the documents on your door or other obvious place on the premises.
The documents will include a court date, usually within five days of the notice date. If the tenant fails to appear in court, the landlord can take possession of the apartment on the same day that the tenant failed to appear. If the tenant appears to file an answer in court, the tenant must appear in court for a trial. The trial is usually set for five days following the initial appearance. After the trial, it is likely that the landlord will obtain a judgment if you have not paid rent.
Once the judgment has been obtained, the tenant has roughly two to four days to vacate the premises. The landlord will obtain a writ of restitution within 48 hours after obtaining a judgment. The writ of restitution allows the sheriff to put the tenant out. Once the writ or restitution has been obtained, the sheriff will usually wait 24-48 hours before visiting the home to have the tenant removed by force.
Please click on Page 2 to learn more about the legal eviction process.
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The legal eviction process begins with a visit to courthouse by the property owner to obtain a judgment. Here, you'll learn the steps to the legal eviction process and what both the landlord and renter must do.
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Am I Still Obligated to Pay Rent Owed After an Eviction?
Yes, you are still obligated to pay rent after you have been evicted. If you are three months behind in rent at the time you are evicted, you will have to pay it. The landlord can also sue for damages to the property as well as any rent incurred for remaining in the apartment without paying rent after being informed of the eviction. If you think you can get away with not paying what is owed, you will end up paying more than just back rent.
Your former landlord or property management firm can report the eviction and any monies owed to all three major credit reporting bureaus. According to San Mateo-based Bills.com, LLC and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA §605), “an account in collection will appear on a consumer's credit report for 7.5 years. The clock starts approximately 180 days after the date of first delinquency on the account. To learn when an account will be removed by the credit reporting agencies (TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian and others), add 7.5 years to the date of first delinquency. Subsequent activity, such as resolving the debt, is irrelevant to the seven-year rule."
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Evictions for Lease Violations
For evictions based on lease violations such as criminal activity, disturbing the peace, number of occupants, or any other violations as outlined in the lease agreement, landlords must serve a Notice to Quit or 30-Day Notice. The tenant has 30 days from the date of the letter to vacate the premises, or legal eviction proceedings will begin. If a landlord decided not to renew a lease, depending on the state, the landlord must give 90-days notice for rental periods of 1+ years and 30 days notice for rental periods of 6 months to a one year. For one to six months, the landlord must give 10 days notice, for one week, three days notice, and less than a week, one day notice.
For more information about the eviction process and possible ways to avoid eviction, see: