Landlord Rights to Eviction: How When and Why
If you are in a rental arrangement, you should have a firm understanding for when it’s legal to evict a tenant as well as the standard lease termination process. Whether a tenant is disturbing other tenants, struggling to pay rent or damaging your rental property, it’s important to know the legalities and the big nos behind tenancy termination and evicting a tenant to avoid further difficulties.
The Legality of It
As a landlord you need to understand when it’s legal to evict a tenant. In matters of renter’s disputes the primal requirement is to have a valid reason for eviction, which usually comes down to the following reasons:
- Continued/repeated failure to pay rent
- Violation of tenancy agreement such as illegal usage of rental property, subletting of property without permission, commercial usage of residential property etc.
- Health or safety hazards caused by the tenant
- Damage to the rental property
- Expiry of the tenancy agreement
In case of experiencing any of the above listed scenarios, your immediately available recourse is to send a notice of termination to your tenant. Termination notices, informs the tenant the violations undertaken by them and subsequently directs the tenant to either:
– in case of nonpayment, pay the rent or vacate by way of termination for cause
– in case of damage or disruption, fix the violation or vacate by way of termination for cause
– in case of any violation or breach beyond repair or fixation, notice for unconditional termination
Ideally, as specific to the situation at hand, upon receiving a termination notice tenants are most likely to pay up dues/fix any operative violations in order to continue their tenancy arrangement. However, if you find that the tenant continues to remain in your rental premises after receiving one of these notices and without fixing the concerns raised then the next step is moving forward with an eviction lawsuit.
Remember, landlords are expected to exhaust all reasonable recourse available to them before initiating eviction proceedings in the court of law.
Do your homework
Although evicting a tenant may appear to be a drastic step however it is very much a reality in the business of rental properties and a topic every landlord should have in depth knowledge of. In some cases, the procedure is as simple as asking the tenant to leave by serving a termination notice. Nevertheless in other few but extreme cases, a stricter eviction process is required commonly known as the legal eviction or court ordered eviction.
When considering a legal eviction, there are a few things every landlord should know and understand:
Make sure you have a valid tenancy agreement in place: In the unfortunate event of eviction, your terms of the eviction notice will essentially flow from the terms of your tenancy agreement. Hence, it’s crucial to know and consider when drafting tenancy/lease agreements that a water tight arrangement is in place to ensure that, if the need arises, you are in a favourable position to win your eviction case.
Serve an eviction notice: No matter which city you live in, if you’re moving forward with evicting a tenant from your rental properly, the first step is to serve the tenant with a written eviction notice and a deadline. Do not forget to consult a professional for drafting these for you as only an expert is best fitted to cover your interests from all ends.
Develop basic knowledge of the tenancy laws of your country or state: If you are in the business of renting out your properties, it is always advisable to have some basic knowledge of the tenancy laws applicable in your land.
Filing for eviction with the court: If the situation boils down to court directed eviction then your best bet is to engage a legal consultant to represent your case. ILS provides expert advisory and representation in tenancy related litigation.
The Big No
Regardless of the legal cover provided to landlords there are limits to the actions you can undertake while dealing with a difficult tenant. Here are a few things which a landlord cannot do under any circumstances otherwise he risks to face legal action against himself.
- Physically removing the tenant
- Remove, damage or hold tenants personal property
- Shut off basic utilities such as gas, electricity and water
- Lock the tenant out of the premises
- Harass the tenant verbally or physically
- Change the locks and hinder his access
Be mindful, eviction is a court-ordered procedure of physically removing the tenant from the property in question through the assistance of a law enforcement officer, so regardless of how frustrated you may be with your tenant, you can’t just throw him out!
In simpler words, the removal is dependent on
a) court’s decision in landlord’s favour and
b) the act of it is performed with the assistance and under the supervision of law enforcement authority of the area.
Anything short of this may not only turn out to be a hassle for the landlord himself but also is outright illegal.
Assuming that the court decides in your favour, it is most likely that your tenant will have a specific amount of time, as stipulated by the court itself, within which the tenant is expected to leave your rental property. However, if your tenant chooses not to leave the property on time, you have the right to inform the police that the tenant is in violation of the court order and seek its assistance to escort them out and place their possessions outside. Again, this is the domain of the law enforcement authority i.e. the police not the landlord himself.
What about past due rentals ?
Once evicted, what’s remains is the matter of accrued and unpaid rentals. In case your tenant refused to make accrued payments, you could seek assistance of the court for collection of due amount. If a judge determines the tenant owes you money from past-due rent, you will receive your money in due course.
ILS provides all the documentation you need for properly navigating the eviction process. If you’re interested in learning more about the eviction process, feel free to reach out to any of our representatives.