Four Reasons to Evict a Tenant

february 11, 2021 | landlord/tenant
Eviction notice with keys

Eviction isn’t something any landlord is eager to pursue, given the time and effort it takes to do the process legally, but it is on occasion necessary. An eviction isn’t something that can be undertaken solely based upon a contentious relationship with a tenant or simply a desire to have the property vacated for your own purposes. Instead, in order to adhere to laws governing evictions, an eviction has to be for causes that rise to the level that justifies taking the drastic step of removing a tenant from the property.

Given recent history, it should be noticed that extenuating circumstances may affect the ability of renters to pay their rent, and calamitous events may prompt action from local, state or federal government to place a moratorium on evictions for a period. For example, the recent COVID-19 crisis saw a lengthy federal prohibition on evictions, and it’s not unimaginable that other future cruises could prompt similar action.

For landlords unsure as to when they can take action, here are four main reasons to evict a tenant.

#1 - Tenant Violates the Lease or Rental Agreement.

Your lease with your tenant is a binding contract, and it is incumbent upon your tenant (and you) to honor the terms of the contract. That means all activities prohibited in the lease, like smoking indoors or running a commercial enterprise from that space, put your tenant in violation of your agreement, as do transgressions of the terms concerning pets or frequent disruptive noise. Similarly, unauthorized residents, be they the long-term guest variety or the four-legged kind, leave tenants at risk of eviction should you choose to pursue it. Not every offense may rise to the level necessitating eviction — a business run out of an apartment may warrant removal more than illicit cigarettes or a secret cat — so it’s up to you as to how to handle each issue.

#2 - Tenant Does Not Pay Rent on Time.

Failing to pay rent is a serious matter, as the exchange of money for living space is the bedrock of the lease. However, there is a significant difference between the occasional late payment — which you can take steps to resolve — and consistent late rent remittance, or even the failure to pay entirely. The former likely does not require advancing matters to the level of eviction, provided the tenant pays the rent and any late fees within the provided period, while the latter two may lead to eviction. As with other violations of the terms of the lease, it may be left to your discretion as to how many late payments or non-payments justify seeking eviction; regardless of the number, the option is yours.

#3 - Tenant Damages the Property.

Some basic wear-and-tear is expected during the term of any rental, but serious damage beyond what occurs in everyday use can constitute grounds to evict a tenant. Damage that warrants eviction is separate from that caused by a natural disaster or an unforeseen malfunction, like a burst pipe or earthquake. Instead, intentionally caused damage or as the result of a tenant’s gross negligence both provide grounds for eviction and possibly repayment beyond what a security deposit might cover. Be sure to collect photographic or video evidence of the damage should you need to present at an eviction hearing. The possibility of damage from tenants is another reason to make sure you’ve collected a security deposit.

#4 - Tenant Uses Property for Illegal Purposes.

It may seem like an obvious point, but illegal activity conducted in or from your rental property is grounds to evict a tenant, to say nothing about potential legal trouble. Given that illegal activity possibly opens a landlord up to liability for other parties’ injuries and may harm the value of the rental property, it’s certainly in the best interest of a landlord to act quickly, but cautiously. Where this type of eviction becomes complicated is in collecting the needed evidence to support your claims. Your suspicions are hardly evidence and landlords are barred from entering a residence save for a certain set of circumstances and run the risk of violating privacy rights if they try to play detective. A police arrest report would certainly serve the purpose of proof for eviction proceedings, but short of that, it would be wise to consult with a lawyer to determine what steps to take in this situation.

An eviction process is not to be taken lightly nor undertaken without the knowledge of the precise process, which means talking to a legal professional. A LegalShield provider lawyer can offer consultation and document review within 24 hours for members, all at the price of a monthly subscription. Learn more about how a LegalShield membership helps with your legal needs.

Speak to a Lawyer Familiar with Eviction Laws in your State