How to Evict a Tenant – The Eviction Process in 8 Easy Steps

Written by on August 26, 2013

A Landlord's Guide to EvictionThis article will guide you through the general eviction process and should help you with removing delinquent or deadbeat tenants from your rental property.

Eviction: It’s Just Business

Being a great landlord doesn’t mean that you’re immune from having bad tenants. Yes, tenant screening is important, but even under the best of circumstances, it’s not unusual for a well-intentioned tenant to struggle to pay rent from time to time.

So even if you have a “good” relationship with your tenant, sometimes they just won’t be able to pay you. When that’s the case, you simply can’t let them stay free of charge, especially when there are others who will have no trouble paying you consistently.

Eviction seems harsh, but it’s the business of rental properties. If a tenant can’t pay, you have to remove them from your property.  Sometimes, it’s as simple as asking them to leave.  Other times, you will have to go through the formal eviction process.

Regardless of the situation, before starting the eviction process, you need to know the proper rules and procedures.  This process can be summarized into 7 steps.

Table of Contents

  1. Understanding the Eviction Laws
  2. Have a Valid Reason for Eviction
  3. Try to Reason with Your Tenants
  4. Give a Formal Notice of Eviction
  5. File Your Eviction with the Courts
  6. Prepare for and Attend the Court Hearing
  7. Evicting the Tenant
  8. Collecting Past-Due Rent
  9. Bonus Video: An Overview of the Eviction Process
  10. Protecting Yourself in the Future

Step 1: Understanding the Eviction Laws

The eviction laws are different from state to state, and it’s smart to know and consider them while writing up your lease agreement, so that both parties know that such a document carries authority with it.

I recommend using a lease agreement that is written by lawyers, and specifically designed for your state.  US Legal Forms has some great lease options that will keep you safe, legally.

If your lease agreement wasn’t been based off of the state laws, or if you’re unsure, you’ll want to spend some time researching your current situation, and see if you can win an eviction case.

Be Familiar with the Landlord and Tenant Act

The Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (URLTA) provides a more detailed explanation of the legal side of the eviction process. At least 21 states have adopted the URLTA as the foundation for their state-specific landlord-tenant laws.

Don’t Take Matters into Your Own Hands.  

“Self-help” evictions are illegal in every state.  Even if the tenant is a deadbeat, a liar, and causing physical damage to your property, you CANNOT do any of the following actions without a court order:

  • Remove the tenant’s stuff from the property.
  • Remove the tenant (i.e. hire Hulk Hogan to physically carry the tenant out)
  • Change the locks or lock-out the tenant.
  • Shut off essential utilities (electric, gas, water, etc)
  • Unleash a family of skunks in the tenant’s basement (aka, harassment)

In order for the courts to be on your side, you’ll need to follow these rules closely, and make sure that you do not to give a judge any reason to doubt that you are an outstanding law-abiding citizen.

In some cases, a tenant will make it easier for a landlord to evict them by breaking laws, destroying property, or violating the lease agreement.

Say Goodbye to Your Friendship

Keep in mind, eviction will always sour the relationship between a landlord and tenant, but if they break laws in the process, the courts are more likely to rule in your favor. However, don’t expect to remain friends with any tenant that you are forced to evict.  Landlord Tip #21, describes why you should never rent to friends.

Step 2: Have a Valid Reason for Eviction

You don’t want to start the process if you don’t have a good and lawful reason to. Typically, the following reasons (given fair notice to the tenant) will be sufficient for an eviction:

  • Failing to pay rent
  • Causing significant damage to property
  • Regularly breaking noise, guest, or pet restrictions
  • Health or safety hazards caused by the tenant

Remember, you’ll need documented proof of any claim against your tenant.  “Innocent until proven guilty” is still overarching rule in the U.S. court system.

Step 3: Try to Reason with Your Tenants

If it doesn’t look like the law is entirely on your side, or if you just don’t want to spend the time and energy on an eviction case, try reasoning with them.

My suggestion would be to take your tenant to a public coffee shop and have a heart-to-heart chat about the situation.  Often times, if you are “understanding but stern”, the tenant will agree to leave on their own accord.  I prefer to have this conversation in a public location because the tenant is less likely to make a scene.

Be Understanding but Stern

Use this “script” when talking to your tenant:

I realize that you’re having trouble paying your rent, and I feel for your situation.  The fact is that I need someone in my rental that can pay rent, and if that’s not you, then you need to leave.  Because I respect you, I wanted to give you a chance to leave on your own before I file an eviction lawsuit.

If I have to go through the eviction process, it will ruin your credit score, and you won’t be able to get a mortgage, car loan, or any loan for a very long time.

When I win the case, I will also need to sue you for any back-due rent, in which I will eventually be able to use that judgement to garnish your wages.  If I have to do that, it will involve your employer, and will be very embarrassing for you.

I don’t want to do that to you.  How would you like to proceed?  Will you pay your rent immediately in full, or will you vacate the property ASAP?

Step 4: Give a Formal Notice of Eviction

If your tenant has chosen to be uncooperative, and you’ve established that you have the right to evict your tenant, you will need to make sure you follow the set legal procedures exactly.

One of the most important steps is to provide adequate “notice of eviction”.  This is usually a simple document or form that gives an ultimatum – telling your tenant why they are being evicted and what they can do to avoid that eviction; pay rent, clean up the house, etc.

Tips for the Eviction Notice

  • It should include a deadline (date) to “pay-rent or move out”.
  • It should include the amount owed (including all fees)
  • You are typically required to post this notice within X number of days before filing the eviction paperwork with your local court.
  • This document should be taped to their front door, as well as sent via Certified Mail / Return Receipt Requested with the United States Postal Service (USPS)
  • Make it easy on yourself – use a state-specific eviction form template.

At this point, it’s their move…

Congratulations, your tenant now knows that you’ve done your research, and that you’re serious about the situation. Usually, a formal eviction notice is enough to whip them into shape.

Otherwise, if the set amount of time (usually a week) goes by and nothing has changed, it’s time to file the eviction with the courts.

Step 5: File Your Eviction with the Courts

Visit your local courthouse to file your eviction and pay a fee (try not to think about all the money, time, and energy that your tenant is costing you), at which point the clerk will schedule your hearing and will eventually notify the tenant on your behalf – via a summons.

You will probably have to show proof (via receipt from certified mail) that you have given the proper amount of time that your state requires for an eviction notice.

Step 6: Prepare for and Attend the Court Hearing

Gather all related documentation and proof of your claim. You’ll want to have the following items at a minimum:

  • lease agreements
  • bounced checks
  • records of payment of any kind
  • records of the communication between you and your tenant (phone and email records).
  • a copy of the written notice that you provided your tenant
  • dated proof that the tenant received the notice (a signature from the tenant, or receipt from the Post Office).

Since a tenant won’t be able to lie about not paying their rent (since they can’t fabricate real rent payment records), their most likely defense will be to claim that you didn’t properly inform them of the eviction.  Be prepared.

From the courts perspective, you will have the benefit of doubt on your side (some landlords might disagree with me).  Besides, why would a landlord go through the trouble to evict someone for no reason?

Even with that working in your favor, you need to step up to the plate, armed with all the right information. Do your homework before your hearing.

Remember to get some sleep the night before your scheduled court date so that you are attentive and confident during the hearing. Always be honest and let your documentation/evidence speak for itself.

Step 7: Evicting the Tenant

If all goes well in court (and it probably will), then your tenant will have a set amount of time to leave, which is anywhere from 48 hours to a week, depending on where you live.

If your tenant doesn’t leave on time, you have the right to get someone from the Sheriff’s department to escort them out and place their possessions on the curb. It’s definitely not a favorable outcome, but it does happen.

Step 8: Collecting Past-Due Rent


Small Claims Court

Some courts allow you to combine eviction and small claims lawsuits if they are related and involve the same individuals.  If this is the case, you can sue for any back-due rent at the same time as the eviction case.

If your local court does not allow this, you’ll have to file a separate small claims lawsuit to pursue the owed rent money.

Garnish their Wages

If the judge determines that the tenant does owe you the past-due rent, you will receive a “judgement” in your favor.  This judgement will be delivered in the form of a court order, which you can give to the tenant’s employer.

This will force the employer to garnish the tenant’s wages, and then pay you before the tenant gets paid.

Related Article: eHow: How to Garnish Wages for Back Rent

Garnish their Tax Refund

Believe it or not, you can actually garnish their tax refund!  RentPrep does a fantastic job of explaining this process in the article: How to Execute Tax Refund Garnishments for Past Due Rent.

Wouldn’t that be a surprise when the tenant is expecting a $1,000 refund from the government, and it all goes to you instead.

Use a Private Debt Collector

Debt collection companies, like Rent Recovery Service, will help you collect the debt and will report it to the 3 major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). It is important to let the credit bureaus know about this dead-beat tenant so that future landlords will know to avoid him/her.

Bonus Video: An Overview of the Eviction Process

Protecting Yourself in the Future

Evictions can be costly and time-consuming, so hopefully you can avoid ever needing to perform one. You can protect yourself by gathering as much information as you can about potential tenants before they move in.

Cozy offers robust tenant screening tools that can help give you a more complete picture of your rental applicants. Best of all, they’re free for landlords, and just $34.95 for your applicants.

Tenant credit reports can give you a good sense of an applicant’s personal financial situation, and whether or not they’ll be able to pay rent reliably, on-time, every month. Meanwhile, background and eviction checks can help ensure you’re renting to a tenant that doesn’t have a criminal history and hasn’t been evicted in the past.

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105 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Erin Nicole

    I live in a house that my mother owns and I manage the property for her as I am a former property manager. There are two housemates plus myself. One of the housemates has a large dog under strict pet terms in the lease. She has violated all the pet terms and is basically neglecting her dog, not picking up its waste and repairing its damages. I have served her with a 30 day notice to exit, but her behavior has not changed. She has to go now as her attitude and behavior is unlivable. Can I serve her with a 3 day notice to quit to get her out sooner or at least her dog? What would be the proper way since I live with her? Also, I always give proper notice to the tenants anytime my mother, the landlord, is coming by to look at the house. Can I have the 3 day notice executed by my mother instead after a scheduled house inspection even though I am the one documenting the damages? Thank you!

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Erin,

      The amount of notice that you have to give for a lease violation depends on your state’s laws.
      Notices for lease violations range from 10 days to 60 days. Check them out:

      The notice should always come from the owner, or the official property manager. You don’t really need to do an inspection if it’s obviously that she has a dog. If the tenant doesn’t remedy the situation by the end of the notice period, then you could terminate the lease. Once the lease is terminated, then you’d have to go to court if the tenant doesn’t leave voluntarily.

      I hope that helps. Please know that I’m not a lawyer nor is this legal advice.

  • Melissa carlod

    I live with my mom and sister in an apartment complex there name is on the lease my isn’t . There’s a person who lives in the same complex who doesn’t seem to like me well she went and told the manager that she saw me and my boyfriend having sex in the car while parked in the complex which isn’t true at all . My mom & sister got evicted now is that legal for a manager to evict someone over what someone else says with any evidence or prove ?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Melissa,

      Do you mean that their lease got terminated? The process of “eviction” means to file a case in the local court system and have a judge determine if the tenant gets to stay or if the tenant has to leave. If you and you family don’t leave when your lease is terminated, then the landlord has no choice but to file a court case. Then, a judge will determine if it is “legal”.

      However, last I checked, you are innocent until proven guilty. I think if you pay a lawyer or legal aid provider, a small amount of money, they will write a letter for you and send it to the landlord. The landlord will probably back down when they get a stern email from a lawyer.

      I hope that helps. Please know that in not a lawyer nor is this legal advice.

  • Tom Reed

    Once you go through the courts and get a Writ of Restitution, there is a date by which the tenant is required to leave. If the tenant does not leave by that date, then you have to get another document, which is a copy of the Writ of Restitution and take it to the Sheriff’s Office, pay them a fee and wait. Eventually, they will call you, tell you when they will meet you at your property to escort the tenants out of your property, at this time you change the locks. When will the law be adjusted to help the Landlord? In Albuquerque it takes the Sheriff’s Office 4 to 6 weeks before they get out to remove your tenants, another two months of no rent, but you still are paying your mortgage. THEY NEED THE LAW AMENDED TO ALLOW YOU TO LOCK OUT THE TENANTS WHEN THEY HAVE NOT LEFT YOUR PORPERTY BY THE DATE ORDERED BY THE COURT.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Tom

      I agree with you that the process does not make it easy for landlords to protect their property, but I don’t agree on lock-outs. I think if the police department would respond within a day or two, then this wouldn’t be an issue. Just my two cents.

  • James

    I filed for non-payment of rent eviction (4 months in arrears on a month by month rental)
    and waiting to hear back from the county officials.
    Meanwhile, can I force the tenant out by shutting the utilities with the reason that I am no longer renting out the place and wish to move? If I do, what are the consequences for me?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi James,

      I think it would be very unwise to shut off the utilities. In almost every state, that is considered a self-help eviction, and not only would it potentially force you to start over your actual eviction, but it could give the tenants the right to remain in the property even longer.

      The little bit of money you’ll save by shutting off the utilities isn’t worth the risk. If they decide to hunker down, and fight you, you’ll probably have to compensate them for the self-help eviction (which only add insult to injury).

      In many states, the landlord will get fined, and the tenant is allowed to stay in the property if the landlord changes the locks or shuts off the essential utilities in an effort to force them out.

      Good luck, please know that I’m not a lawyer, nor is this legal advice.

  • Mary

    I allowed my daughter and boyfriend to moved into my house and rent it from me no rental agreement signed just verbal. The rent would be half the mortgage on their part to help them out. As long as they kept the house up which they have not and for past two months no rent. What legal actions can I take to have them move?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Mary,

      It sounds like you want to terminate the verbal agreement. The good news is that most verbal agreements are treated as month-to-month. And… you don’t need a reason to terminate a monthly agreement. That’s the blessing and curse of month-to-month agreements. You’d have to check your state laws to see how much notice is required of you to terminate it.

      Good luck. Please know that I’m not a lawyer, nor is this legal advice.

  • Marcus Maer

    My landlord file an eviction lawsuit against me without give me any prior eviction notice. On the SUMMONS he put a false paper “notice that he posted on the premises” Every month I pay on time, but two months ago the floor inflated and broke, I tried all my available resources but he can want to repair, so I send a email, photos and certified letter and nothing. I stop to send a check rent, and he made a false affirmation that notice to me. How is possible that he give to the court a false paper, and file a eviction lawsuit with that?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Marcus,

      It just means that he lied to the courts. Because you’ve been served a summons, my suggestion to you would be to talk to a lawyer. You can still attend the court hearing and explain the situation. I’m sure the landlord didn’t tell the court about the broken floor. But talking to a lawyer would be a great first step, so you know how to prepare for court.

      Good luck!

  • Maria

    Hello! What solution could I find if the tenant has only paid 3/4 of the rent this month and has asked me to wait for the rest of the money, even though this is the 2nd time this has happened. There are debts that are not paid and he said that he would leave, but I have to pay him back the 3/4 [the rent is paid before each month] but I would have to pay those debts myself [water, electricity etc.]. I would like to find a “strategy” or a more amiable solution than going to court or a drastic procedure. Any advice? Thank you!

    • Maria

      I would also like to mention that eviction is not a 100% solution for me since the money is really tight and I would like to either keep the tenant and find a solution to make him pay what he owes me OR make him leave but also pay his debts himself. The second thing I would like to mention is that he is not a very reasonable person [obviously, since I am writing this], so that’s why I’m trying to find a amiable solution to this.

      • Lucas Hall

        Hi Maria,

        There are really only 2 types of solutions: Let the tenant stay, or evict him.

        If you don’t want to go through eviction courts, and would rather have him stay, then you have to figure out how to motivate him to pay rent on-time in full.

        My suggestion would be to switch to automatic online rent payments, and use a free tool like Cozy ( When rent is “automatic”, tenants tend to keep the money in their account knowing that a withdraw will be attempted.

        Other than that, your bite doesn’t really have any teeth if you’re not willing to terminate his lease and evict him for non-payment.

        Sure, you would work out a payment plan, but he’ll eventually be late again, or just ignore the plan completely. In order for rent collection to be successful, the tenant has to be “able and willing” to pay rent. It sounds like your tenant is neither – and human behavior is one of the most difficult things to change.

        If he owes you rent, why are you considering even given anything back to him. Yes, rent is paid in advance, but if you have to terminate the lease, you will certainly have damages to claim, and you could use that money you do have to pay for the vacancy until a new tenant is found. He doesn’t get his cake and gets to eat it too.

        I hope that helps. Please know that I’m not a lawyer, nor is this legal advice.

  • mr. wallace

    I have a so called tenant that swindled his way in my apt., by giving me a non-sufficient check to move in ,by the time I found out 1 hour later that the check was no good he and his mistress had already moved in .I had called him over 20 times trying to reach him,when he did answer he tells me that I will get my monies and why am, I treating him like this,I asked for my place back ,he tells me he have no other place to go and I’m wrong and all what he has to do to the apt. and that I should pay him to do the work.this is mon. july 6 he gave me the bogus check fri. july 3 no money just a lot of ;it’s my fault and how I would never do you wrong my brother by the way he is a reverend. what can I do also this is cook county,ill. were the landlords have no rights

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Mr. Wallace,

      I’m sorry to hear about the deceitful tenant. A handshake just doesn’t mean anything like it use to.

      In this situation, I suggest you call the police and see if they can help you get him out for trespassing. If they refuse, because he is a tenant, then you’ll have to go through the formal eviction process with Cook County. You could call the local courthouse and ask how to start the process with them. During the eviction action, you could also sue the tenant for damages.

      For Illinois Rental laws, check out our guide:

      Next time, never give the tenant keys until the 1st month’s rent check clears and you also have at least 1 month’s security deposit. Then, if this happens, you’ll have 2 months worth of rent while you evict them. Also, running a credit and background check will weed out the crooks. Anyone who is intentionally deceiving you will run away when you tell them that you will be doing a background check. lets you run them at no cost to you.

      I hope this helps. Please know that I’m not a lawyer, nor is this legal advice.

  • vbrke

    My landlord gave me an eviction notice for non payment of rent. He is also my boss so the following day he took the rent out of my check. We went to court and the judge dismissed it for taking my money. Now he is evicting me and says I’m behind 3 weeks rent due to the last eviction. He is threatening to take my security deposit. Can he keep my deposit for eviction rent?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi there

      I can’t give you legal advice for your situation, but I can tell you that unpaid rent is one of the legitimate reasons a landlord can withhold part or all of the deposit – depending on how much is owed. If you feel the landlord is wrongfully withholding the deposit, you could take him to small claims court and let a judge decide.

  • Yvon

    I really want to get into real estate in owning apartment buildings. I have heard that it is a lot of work, and I imagine that evicting tenants is not one of the most glamorous parts of the job. Still friends tell me that people are usually reasonable, and if they are not, there are services that will help them move out in a timely manner.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Yvon,

      I’ve found that most tenants are reasonable, well-rounded people. The key is to do a thorough job screening applicants before you give them the keys.

  • Jessica true

    I rent off of my father in law and he is going through a divorce he wants us to stay but the wife sent me a eviction notice can she do that

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Jessica,

      It really depends on who is on the lease as the landlord, and who owns the property. If you don’t have a written lease, and both people own the property, you’d probably have to talk to a lawyer about your situation.

      Good luck to you.

  • Dot

    My husband was told that as landlords we must have a room with a lock on the door in our home to use as a office for storing all paper work on our tenants. Is this true? We have been using our computer room with two locked safes to keep all paper work in.
    Thanks Dot

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Dot

      I’m not an expert on FCRA requirements, but keeping those documents safe is very important.

      I use Cozy for my online applications and screening, and it reduces the amount of sensitive information I have to store dramatically, but I also have a locked file cabinet to keep any printed docs secure.

      If you have a locked safe, I imagine that the information would be secure enough. If the feds come knocking on your door to do an audit, then you can get their opinion :)

      I hope that helps. Please know that I’m not a lawyer, nor is this legal advice.

  • Mirta

    My tenant never pays me rent when its due, I have previously used a 3day notice to pay or quit but the problems persists, she was passed due on her rent and I called her to set up a time and day for me to collect the rent money she went ballistic and send me her voluntary 30 day notice that she was moving out via text message, she send me a second text message with the same information on it adding to it the date she was expecting to be out. Since she voluntarily decided to move out and due to the problems she has causes in the past I thought it was a goid idea but I never gave her any written notice since I thought her text messages were good enough, what can I do if she decides not to move out by the 30 days? What can I do next?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Mirta

      I’m sorry to hear about your crazy tenant. But a 3-day notice to pay or quit is useless if you don’t act on it. Meaning, when she didn’t pay up, why didn’t you file the eviction paperwork? The only thing that your tenant heard was that you aren’t serious about your threats.

      If I were in your situation, I would send another written notice to pay or quit (and drop one off in person), and then when she doesn’t pay, file the eviction action with the local courts the next day. My guess is that she will probably move out before the court date.

      I hope that helps. Please know that I’m not a lawyer, nor is this legal advice.


    I had purchased plot with house on dt.28.10.2009 from my father-in-law ( vendor)which is already mutated in my name at the time of my staying outside. I had given the back portion of the house on rent to the vendor for which I am having notorised rent agreement for a period of 4 years w.e.f.dt.28.10.2009 executed in the year,2010.I had sent regd.letter to the tenant to vacate the rented house on dt.23.04.2013 but he did n’t.After expiry of the rent agreement period I served legal notice for paying me arrear rent,water,electricity dues and vacating the rented house.But instead of vacating the tenant is creating unhealthy litigation.Presently my family is in posession of the main house.What should I do?
    Please suggest me.
    Thanks .

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Dayanidhi,

      I’m sorry to hear about that. I’m not completely sure what you mean by “unhealthy litigation”, but if there is a pending court case against you, my only suggestion would be to hire a lawyer.

      Best of luck to you and your family.

  • joseph burns

    Our tenant has been in our rental house 3 months after his one year notice was up.he refuses to sign another lease so we told him to just give a months notice before he is leaving.he decided to not pay aug. Rent .he will not speak to me answer his phone, or even respond to left messages telling him nicely that we can work it out.we want him out but he sent word that he is living out his deposit of now am worried that he want leave next month.he has showed his real colors and let don’t trust him now even though he has been a decent renter in their past.what should we do to make sure he leaves in sept.?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Joseph,

      It’s a best practice to give a tenant a formal “Notice to pay or quit” when they don’t pay rent. If they refuse to pay or leave within that time frame specified by your state laws, then you can terminate the lease. If they still refuse to leave, then you file an eviction action with the courts.

      The longer you take to act, the more money you will lose. His true colors are that he wants to live rent-free, and he will continue to do so until you force him out legally.

      Good luck to you. To learn about the required notice to terminate the lease for non-payment, check out our state law guides:

      I hope that helps. Please know that I’m not a lawyer, nor is this legal advice.

  • Claudia

    My boyfriend does not like my daughter and asked for us to move. I told him ee would start looking and would be out as soon as we find something. When we got home the next night he had changed the locks. Then took my jointly.owned vehicle. I called the landlord to her request that he let us get our property. The landlord did not respond. I filed in my local court. Now he is saying he found drugs. He is lying and is mad because I am taking this to court, but he left me no choice. He is putting pressure on me not to go to court. However I told him not to lock me out in the beginning.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Claudia,

      Good luck with this. If you are going to court, you might want to talk to a lawyer first.

      Generally speaking, no one can lock out a tenant (not even the landlord). However, is your name on the lease? These are some things to consider. Let me know how it goes.

  • anita

    Hello, Well here’s one from N. J. I have a small effeciency (un-registered) rented to tenant month to month. Single mother, daugther 3, fell for her sob story, she worked nights daugther in daycare. Couple months later she informs me she’s expecting but is putting child up for adoption. that never happened !!! Gave her verbal 30day notice July 5th. No action, no rent , refuses to leave, no where to go. What are my options? If I file for eviction will it back fire on me for illegal rental? Thanks in advance. PS I am 74 yrs old and can not keep paying for utilities, electric, gas, cable, HELP!!

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Anita

      Perhaps offering “cash for keys” would entice them to move. Basically saying ” if you move out by Friday and clean the place, I’ll give you $XX”.

      If that doesn’t work, eviction court is your only legal option. Even if you have an “illegal rental”, you still need to go to court.

      I hope that helps. Please know that I’m not a lawyer nor is this legal advice.

  • Matthew Lukanowski-Duaime

    I decided to sublet my condo to a 19 year old . All legal and proper I requested all proper info as my unit is paid full for two years and I own a home in another state. The tenant has in an entire season never paid me on time or for the full amount . He has his mother of 52 calling my work and calling the cops if I give a 72 hr notice to do an inspection on the unit I’m held reaponsable for. How can I get this awful tenant out asap

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Matthew

      First, you have to terminate the lease with just cause. Next time he’s late, give him a XX day notice to pay or quit. Check out our state laws pages to see how much notice your state requires.

      Who cares if the mother calls the cops?!?? If you aren’t doing anything wrong and are giving proper notice, the cops are going to ignore it. Plus, it will show her and her son that you won’t be bullied.

      Once the lease is terminated, then if the tenant doesn’t leave, you’d have to go through the courts to remove him by force. But you could sue him for damages too.

      If your sublet is legal, then stand up for yourself. Follow the lease and give proper notice and terminate the lease big he won’t play by the rules. Don’t let them bully you.

      I hope that is encouraging to you. Please know that I’m just trying to help but that in not a lawyer nor is this legal advice.

      • Matthew Duaime

        Lucas ,
        Thank you for the response. When I got the condo I paid cash full for two years while buying my home in nj. So the person I sublet to knows he’s living in a place paid in full for a two year term. All is legal as the prime landlord knows my character my renting history and I paid cash two years advance up front. This mother of the 19 year old criminal drug addict will not stop calling my place of employment , I have undergone major back surgery and because I’m not Mobil as normal these people have walked all over laws and the city of Philadelphia .
        The mother filed a report saying I harass her when she’s not on a lease or sublease . This woman keeps me from calling my sub tenant.
        Can I take action on her for harassment @ work?

        • Lucas Hall

          Hi Matthew,

          In this day an age, anyone can sue anyone for anything. From your side of the story, I think the mother is clearly harassing you. Perhaps the easiest solution is to talk to a lawyer, and have that lawyer send a cease and desist (or demand) letter to her on the lawyer’s letterhead. That’s usually enough to scare most people into submission. But if not, at least you have a lawyer who would be able to give you legal advice on how to handle her next.

          Good luck!

  • Ser Cel

    Hi Lucas,

    My situation is a bit odd. I have a tenant and the rental lease expired several months ago and I was getting my rents without having lease until last month. I was getting my rents cash. My tenant lost his job and he didn’t pay last month’s and this month’s rent yet. I don’t have the lease right now and I want him move out but he doesn’t. So, I gave him a notice in which I stated the amount he owe me and the due for him either pay the rent or move out. Yet that deadline passed 3 days ago and he didn’t pay and still live in my property. I will go to court on Monday but I am not sure what is going to happen since I don’t have the lease. Would that cause me trouble or the eviction notice that I gave the tenant will help me? Thanks

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi there

      Written leases are always the best option but a verbal monthly contract is valid too – but hard to prove. I can’t give you legal advice nor am I a lawyer but do your best to present evidence and stay calm. Hopefully the judge will see that you are telling the truth. Good luck.

  • David

    Mom and Dad live with me & loan & title is under my name only. There is no lease agreement with my parents. We all contribute to all the house bills & they pay half the mortgage. I am about to turn age 40 & I just want to start my life alone with my daughter. I told my dad about my move and he got furious. I explained to dad that when I sell the house I will equally spit 50/50 of the net proceeds. Either way he doesn’t want to move and last month stop giving me his half of the mortgage payment. I need to leave. I am tired of living here. He wants to fight me in court now. I am having served with a 3 day notice to pay or quit. Even if he pays I will be selling. Does he have any right? I am in L.A. California. Any advice helps. Thank U

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi David,

      I’m sorry for your situation. Family lawsuits are the worst.

      With that said, the mortgage company doesn’t care if your dad doesn’t pay his half. You’re still on the hook for the whole thing, so be sure to keep paying it (but you probably already know that).

      You’d have to talk to an attorney to find out if your dad has any rights. But even if he does have some sort of tenants rights, it won’t prevent you from selling. The deed is in your name – do with it as you please. Once the house is sold, if your parents refuse to leave, claiming that they are “tenants”, the new owner can terminate their verbal month-to-month lease with short notice (check your state laws), and then have them evicted through the courts if they refuse to leave…. but I hope it doesn’t go that far – for their sake.

      I know they must me emotionally tied to the house. Give it some time to sink in. They probably just need to come to grips with it, and then they will calm down.

      Perhaps you could even use the proceeds to entice them… for example, you could say “Dad, I’m moving and selling the house whether you like it or not. If you want 50% of the profit, you need to vacate before I go to settlement”.

      Good luck to you. I don’t envy your situation. Hopefully you’ll be able to repair the relationship later.

      Please know that I’m not a lawyer, nor is this legal advice.

      • David

        My intentions is never to hurt either one of my parents. There are no emotional ties in this house my dad just loves to fight. All my years growing up all he has done is fight with his own brothers & sisters and now I am next. Just a few months ago he fought with my sister at her house my dad just loves to live his life with problems. My main reason to leave in the first place. I live a positive lifestyle with a wide open mind I want to stay as far away as I can from this negative vibe. My mom totally understands me & wishes me well. I continue to pay my mortgage even without Dad half of the money this much I know. I will just proceed to treat him as a tenant and evict him If I need to. Thank you for your comments it does help me.

  • Robert

    I own a two family house in NYC the second floor is rented to to a single lady with no lease. She has been living in the apt for about 3 months now. The problem is she comes home drunk every night with different men. I called the copes to make a report so that way i can take the reports to the judge. I made my self clear to her that if she brings Drunk men in i will kick her out. She doesn’t seem to care. Wanted to know if anyone has advice or experience on how to go about the situation.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Robert,

      That’s a tricky one, because though not very classy, she does have the right to enjoy the property a long as she’s not causing an “unreasonable” nuisance, violating the lease (non existent), or damaging the property.

      If the drunk people keep to themselves, and aren’t doing anything illegal, then while you don’t agree with it, you really can’t regulate the types of guests she has.

      With that said, since she doesn’t have a lease, and she is only a month-to-month tenant, you can simply terminate her lease with a month’s notice:

      You don’t need a reason to terminate a month-to-month tenancy.

      Good luck to you. Please know that I’m not a lawyer nor is this legal advice.

  • Eva Streeter

    I have a friend who leaves in our granny unit on the top of our garage. He has leaved there for four years with no problems. We only have a verbal agreement from month to month. We have always told him if family needed to leave there that would always come first. He did agree to this. Now he has started to smoke pot in the apartment and the smell comes into our house. We have told him many times not to smoke pot is there because it come in our house and we always have family over . So now we just what him our. We have given him so many chances. So what do we do next.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Eva

      If he has a month-to-month tenancy, then just give him proper notice that you are terminating the agreement. Each state has a difference definition of “proper notice”, so check out our state law guides:

      Then, if he doesn’t leave by the deadline, you’d have to file an eviction action with your local court – just like every other landlord who has a stubborn tenant.

      You don’t need a reason to terminate a monthly tenancy – that’s the whole point.

      I hope that helps. Please know that I’m not a lawyer, nor is this legal advice.

  • Marie

    I rent a 1 bedroom to my son for $300.00 a month and he always fails to pay the rent some months he pays and as of right now he is 2 months late I don’t have the money to take him to court and the apt I rent to him helps me as I am on social security and is always bringing people around I have a gate can I change the lock on the gate?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Marie,

      Generally speaking, a landlord is never allowed to change the locks (any locks) that prohibit a legitimate tenant from accessing the unit.

      I’m sorry that your son is not being respectful. Hopefully you can talk some sense into him in a way that only a mother could. Good luck to you.

  • Sha

    I have a friend I have that agreed to let me stay with him until I get back on my feet now last night he was harassing me about having sex with him and I don’t want too I have been here for two months and I also receive my mail here so because I would not have sex with him he told me he wants me out by Monday and if that doesn’t happen he is gonna just lock me out by going away for a week now let’s keep in mind he has provided me with keys to the apartment now if and when this takes place what action can I take

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Sha,

      I suggest you find another place to live immediately. You should never have to be put into that position. What a horrible situation.

      You could stay put but then he might get angry and force himself on you.

      For your own safety, go stay with someone else – anyone else!

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