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Landlord’s guide: How does eviction work?

No landlord ever wants to resort to the time-consuming and stressful process of eviction. Several tips and advice on being a landlord state that eviction should only be taken as a last resort should all other options be exhausted.

But if, as a landlord, you find yourself in such a scenario, a crucial first step is to learn how to do the eviction process right.

Common grounds for and questions about eviction

Before an eviction lawsuit begins, a landlord must first legally terminate the lease. This is done by serving a written notice to the concerned tenant. The notice must cite the specific cause of tenancy termination. The following are the usual cases of termination with cause:

  • Rent payment notice. When a tenant is a month or two behind on rent, a landlord can serve a rent payment notice to inform them that they only have a number of days to comply before eviction proceedings push through.
  • Cure notice. Tenants who have violated any of the terms in the lease agreement will have a certain amount of time to correct or “cure” the said violation. Failure to do so will give the landlord a good reason to pursue an eviction lawsuit.
  • Unconditional quit notice. Considered the most severe among all notices, an unconditional quit notice orders erring tenants to move out as soon as possible. There’s no opportunity to rectify a violation or catch up on delayed rent payments. This type of notice is only valid if the landlord can prove: (1) occurrence of a serious crime or illegal activity perpetrated by the tenant; (2) repeated violation of a major clause or provision in the rental agreement; (3) significant structural damage to property done by the tenant; or (4) multiple instances of late rent payment.

Can a landlord terminate without any legal cause?

It depends on the contract terms. In general, a landlord cannot do this to tenants who are on fixed-term leases. This rule applies to states like Ohio and Kentucky. You must first wait for the lease contract to expire before serving a notice to move out.

For month-to-month tenancies, a landlord must provide a 30-day written notice, with the specific move-out date indicated. If a month-to-month tenant doesn’t comply with the notice, then you can initiate eviction proceedings against them.

Can a landlord claim late rent payments despite COVID-19?

Federal and local authorities have placed a moratorium on evictions due to late rent payments caused by COVID-19. Substantial loss of income, extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expense, or exemption from reporting 2019 income to the IRS are some of the factors that can allow tenants to avoid rent-related evictions. The moratorium initially ran from September to December 2020, but it has since been extended to March 31, 2021 by President Biden.

Length of time to complete the eviction process

On average, the eviction process takes three to four weeks to conclude. However, depending on the state and the city, the process could take longer.

Just as you have the right to issue an eviction notice to a tenant, the tenant also has a right to contest the eviction. If the tenant sees alleged errors in the eviction lawsuit or finds insufficient evidence, you should be prepared for a lengthy battle in court.

If you win the case, you still can’t forcibly remove a tenant from the property premises yet. You must submit the court judgment to a sheriff or constable. They are the ones authorized to carry out the act of eviction. States and local jurisdictions have specific procedures on how to physically remove tenants from the property.

How to save time and reduce stress while initiating eviction proceedings

Make sure to keep a paper trail of your interactions with any tenant. Whether the communication relates to late rent payments, noise complaints from neighbors, or serious property damage, a written record of these events can serve to validate your eviction.

Additionally, it’s also helpful to speak with a legal professional. They can enlighten you on what you can and cannot do in situations that involve lease violations.

Of course, the ideal scenario is to avoid resorting to a costly and time-consuming eviction process in the first place. You can achieve that by getting in touch with professional property managers like our team in Sundance Property Management.

From tenant screening to resolving tenant-landlord issues amicably, we can give you the tools and insight to effectively manage your property. Our team is present in Southeast and Midwest states like Ohio, Kentucky, Georgia, and South Carolina. Reach out to us by calling 513.489.3363 or sending an email to info(at)sdpmi(dotted)com. You may also submit your inquiries here.

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