4 Legal Reasons to Evict a Tenant
You are one of the 10 million Americans who’re landlords.
Being a landlord packs plenty of powerful benefits. Besides being part of an exclusive group of Americans, investing in rental property is an ideal way to grow your wealth. As long as your property is occupied, you’ll always earn an income without needing to lift two fingers.
However, being a landlord isn’t without its challenges. One of the top challenges is bad tenants.
There’s a solution, which is eviction. But you can’t just evict a tenant because you don’t like them. You need a legal reason.
In this article, we’re sharing a number of legal reasons to kick a tenant out of your rental property.
- Not Paying Rent
Of course, this had to be the first reason!
As a landlord, you’ve invested in a rental property. Your return on investment is the rent you collect. So, when someone rents the property, they have an obligation to pay the rent you’ve set.
But then, the tenant may stop paying the rent. This usually happens when the tenant runs into financial problems. Perhaps they lose a job or their business collapses.
This is a common problem for landlords, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you should start the eviction process as soon as a tenant defaults on their rent. As a matter of courtesy, most landlords will give tenants a grace period to make good their tenant accounts. The tenant might also communicate, explain their situation, and ask for more time to pay the rent.
If there’s a provision for late payment charges in the rental agreement, you’re within your rights to remind the tenant that they’ll need to pay the rent inclusive of those charges.
Sometimes, though, the tenant will be uncooperative. Maybe you’ll be unable to reach them on their cellphone or email. When this is the case, the next step is to send a rent late notice.
Laws on how to handle a tenant who’s late on rent vary from state to state, you’ve to be sure you’re doing everything within the confines of the law. If you violate the tenant’s rights, they can sue you in a court of law.
Generally, though, non-payment of rent is a legal reason to kickstart the eviction process. However, if the tenant is refusing to pay rent because the property isn’t in a livable condition, you might have no case against them.
- Expired Tenancy Agreement
As a landlord, one of your duties is to prepare tenancy agreements. Among other things, these agreements flesh out the duration of the lease.
For instance, you could have one-year leases. When a tenant signs the lease, they’re agreeing that their tenancy period will expire after one year, after which they will move out, or renew the lease if applicable.
So, if you have a tenant who’s sitting on an expired lease, you’ve got a legal right to evict them.
However, just because a tenant has overstayed their lease doesn’t mean you can go over to the property and ask them to leave. You’ve to follow the legal eviction process, as laid out by the laws in your state. Don’t lock them out of the house, cut off their utility supply, or do anything else that can amount to harassment; otherwise, you might not be able to achieve a successful tenant eviction.
Many a time, a tenant who has overstayed their lease will offer to continue paying the rent. Do not accept the cash if you don’t intend to renew the lease. Accepting the cash can put you at a legal disadvantage.
To prevent instances of tenants overstaying their lease, there’s only so much you can do. After you hand over the keys, you can only hope the tenants honors the agreement. However, the tenant screening process can help you identify a tenant who is more likely to honor the agreements.
- Violation of the Lease
The lease agreement spells out so many things, including what the tenant cannot do. For example, most lease agreements prohibit tenants from sub-leasing the house or putting it up on a vacation rental platform.
When a tenant violates the terms of the lease, you have a just cause to evict them.
Keep in mind, though, that you need to have a clear lease agreement and evidence that the tenant has violated the lease. For example, if you forbid tenants from keeping pets on the property, you need to verify that indeed the tenant is keeping a pet.
Another common lease violation is a tenant being a nuisance to others. If your property is multi-tenant, each tenant has a duty to live in a way that doesn’t disturb another tenant’s peace. If a tenant is ever hosting loud parties or making lots of noise till other tenants are complaining, you have a valid reason to evict them.
Illegal activity is another reason to evict a tenant. If a tenant is using the unit to make or store illegal drugs, for instance, alert the police and the eviction will a lot easier for you.
- Property Damage
It costs a lot of money to own a rental property. The last thing you want is a tenant who will damage it. This is why property damage can be grounds for tenant eviction.
We’re not talking about normal wear and tear. We are talking about a tenant who purposely damages the property, such as excavating the floors or tearing through the walls.
Unfortunately, most landlords don’t get to learn about property damage until the tenant has moved. You’ll be within your rights to use the security deposit to make the repairs, but it’s possible that the cost of repairs exceeds the deposit.
Know When to Evict a Tenant
Your success as a landlord largely depends on the quality of your tenants. However, if you end up with a bad tenant, it doesn’t mean you’ve to put up with them. There are measures you can take to evict a tenant, but you need a legal reason. With this guide, you now know when it’s perfectly okay to evict a tenant.
Keep reading our blog for more tips and insights.