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

Written on August 13, 2016 by , updated on December 3, 2019

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
  • Violating the lease/agreement (pets, subletting, illegal use, etc)
  • Causing significant damage to property
  • Breaking noise, occupancy, or health ordinances
  • 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.

Step-by-Step Infographic

The folks at put together a clear infographic that makes it easy to understand the eviction process. While the steps don’t match the article above exactly, it’s still the same process and completely accurate.

Eviction Process Infographic

Other Helpful Articles:

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282 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Robert E. Ross

    When a tenant destroys your property is it legal to be able to garnish wages to cover cost of materials and labor?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Robert,

      If a tenant destroys a property, the landlord must first win a judgement in court for the specific amount. The cost of materials and labor can be included in your total damages.

      Then, as a method of collecting money on that judgement, the landlord can reach out to the tenant’s employer and garnish wages. The court order is required before an employer will send you any money.

      I suggest you talk to a lawyer in your area. I’m not a lawyer so please don’t consider this legal advice. I’m just a landlord trying to help.

  • Roy

    I honestly have never heard anyone (other than the government) be able to garnish wages, least not a rental issue. What state(s) is this legal in? I’ve been told I can sue but likely will never see the money because “you can’t get blood from a turnip”.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Roy,

      Indeed – you cannot get blood from a turnip. But if the tenant has a full time job, then there is money to garnish.

      Whether or not a judge decides that the landlord is worth of a garnishment order – I do not know.

      However, I’ve met a few landlords from around the county who have successfully received garnishment orders after an eviction, and have been able to give those to the employer, who had not choice but to comply.

  • Devon learn


    I’m a landlord and I just served my tenant with my company’s help for 3 day to comply or quit. He is on month to month but has been such a trouble tenant. Would never let the workers in without wearing booties. What is the next step I should do to get rid of him.

    Thank you

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Devon,

      The amount of notice that you need to provide, and what to do next depends on your state laws. Check out the guides and links found here:

      After the notice period expires, the lease terminiates. If the tenant hasn’t moved out by the time that the lease terminates, and refuses to leave, then the landlord must file an “unlawful detainer” lawsuit with the local courts. Then, after the court hearing, and a judgement awarded to the landlord, the sheriff will come to force the tenant out.

      Keep in mind, I’m not a lawyer, so this might vary some depended on where you live. I’m just a landlord, so please don’t take this as legal advice.

  • Samantha

    my mother passed away less than 2 weeks ago. Yesterday her landlord took it upon herself and others to go into the apartment and place all of my moms belongings on the curb for trash except for the items she chose to keep for herself…is this legal?!! Doesn’t she have to allow us time to remove the things and give some sort of notice or eviction???

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Samantha

      I’m sorry to hear about the passing of your mother.

      Each state has their own laws on handling the personal property of tenants. The property of a deceased goes to the family or the estate, and I don’t believe the landlord really had any right to throw it away as quickly as she did – especially if the rent was paid in full for the current month.

      I can’t tell you what is legally right, since I’m not a lawyer, but if I were in your shoes, I would seek compensation for the property that the landlord tossed or stole.

      Unfortunately, you might get anywhere without the help of a lawyer. If you can’t afford one, use the links to “legal aid” services mention above.

      Here are some links to law:

  • Adam Dorathy

    I have just served a 5 day notice to pay or vacate. They basicly told me they weren’t going to leave and its doubtful I will get any money. She also doesn’t work so how would I be able to garnish her waives even if she tries to get a job?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Adam,

      First, you’d have to win a judgement in court. Then, you can ask for a court order for a garnishment.

      You’d have to keep tabs on her, and if she ever did get a job, you could take that court order to her HR dept and garnish her wages that way.

      To be honest, I’ve never had to garnish someones wages, so I’m not speaking from experience. I’m also not a lawyer. This is just my understanding of how it works based on research. Here is a decent article to help you learn more about garnishments:

  • Sam

    My mom passed away bout 10 years ago and we verbally promised my ex step dad he could stay in her house but now we want to live in house. He and my mom was divorced and the house was and is deeded in my name at her time of death . Can we evict him out of house or does he have any rights.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Sam,

      If he doesn’t have a written fixed-term lease, you can probably treat it like a month-to-month agreement.

      He does have rights because you’ve allowed him to live there. It’s his home.

      Check your state laws to see how much notice is needed to terminate the tenancy.

      If he doesn’t leave after you’ve given proper notice, you should file an eviction suit in court. At that point, I suggest you talk to a lawyer in your county to ensure you follow local protocol.

      Just my two cents, I think it’s better to be overly cautious rather than running the risk of performing a self-help eviction and getting in trouble. I’m not a lawyer so please don’t take this as legal advice.

  • Willie Cai

    Can I garnish tenant’s unemployment compensation after tenant move-out? I know her former employer from her payment copy at beginning of her move-in.

    • Lucas Hall


      Absolutely. Generally speaking, you first have to get a judgement against her and a court order to garnish the wages. Then, you can take that court order to the employer and they will take the money out of the former tenant’s paycheck.

      To get more specific guidance, please talk to a lawyer (which I am not)

      • Willie Cai

        Thank you, Lucas

        How come her former/previous employer can take her paycheck out if she’s no longer working for the employer? My question is: she is getting Unemployment Compensation from government now? can I garnish her UC payment?

      • Anthony

        You absolutely can NOT garnish unemployment or social security checks.

  • Ashely

    My tenant brought a guest her boyfriend and she didnt ask my permission is that okay or not

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Ashley,

      It depends on the situations. Tenants are always allowed to have guests over, which is usually considered implied in their right to enjoy the property. However, those guests are subject to the same terms and conditions that the tenant is, and they are not allowed to take up residence in the dwelling. Simply put, a guest usually goes back to their home. If your tenant moved-in her boyfriend without permission, then you could potentially terminate her lease for the violation – because her lease only gives her the right to occupy the premise.

      But like I said, it depends on the situation. Further, I’m not a lawyer, so this is not legal advice in anyway. I think think it’s common sense. You should check your state laws for the amount of notice you must give for a lease violation:

      Further, here’s a helpful article:

  • Jane

    RTO seller here. My buyer has kept 2 months rent and was to pay RE taxes by an agreed date..never happened and can’t get my rent from them now. Any suggestions. The taxes keep adding up monthly.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Jane,

      Do you have this agreement in writing? If so, then you can simply terminate their lease for non-payment. Then if they don’t leave, you’d have to go through the formal eviction process.

      However, I realize doing so will force you to lose a renter and a buyer, but it seems like they are taking advantage of you anyway and will probably string this along before they abandon the agreement. It’s better for you to have the control than go another 6 months without rent or paid taxes.

      At the end of the day, the current title holder is responsible for taxes. The county doesn’t care if you had an agreement with your RTO tenant. You stand to lose your asset, so get those taxes paid ASAP! … Just my non-legal two cents.

  • Gary

    OK can you tell me the best way to evict a bad tenant? Do I need a lawyer? He broke the terms of the lease.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Gary,

      There’s really only one formal way to evict a tenant, which is to terminate the lease with proper notice, and then if they don’t leave, file an unlawful detainer suit in your local court.

      You usually don’t need a lawyer for eviction cases, but they always help.

      Alternatively, you can try to get the tenant to leave voluntarily. Sometimes they do so by the end of the notice period. Other times, you need to bribe them. Sometimes provides a few hundred dollars in cash will motivate them to clean the unit and be out by a particular day/time. It’s often cheaper than spending weeks in the eviction process.

      To learn about the required notice periods for your state, make sure you check our your state laws. We’ve summarized most of them here:

      Please know that I’m not a lawyer, but rather just an experienced landlord. This is not legal advice.

  • Gladys Hutson

    I gave my tenant a lease to review and sign and he never returned it, so he is month to month. He has a lady and her daughter living there. Do I give each of them a notice of eviction, as they are very behind in rent and utilities. He is caring for his parents who are close by. I feel sorry for him but I am a widow and need the money to keep the house in repairs. Thanks

  • Lucas Hall

    Hi Gladys,

    Typically, notice of eviction is sent to the lease holder, but includes all residents. Check your state laws to see how much notice you need to provide to terminate a month-to-month lease.

  • Marsha


    I am not the property owner, I handle renting out the property for my mother (the owner). Since it’s my name on the lease can I file the eviction paper work? My mother lives out of state?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Marsha, you’ll have to ask your local court. They may want the owner on the paperwork. If so, you might have to get a power of attorney from your mother to represent her. If the court is more lenient, you may be able to complete the eviction by simply showing your management contract, if you have one.

  • Pam

    Different situation. We have a tenant that moved in Feb 1, she has paid the rent but we allowed her to pay the deposit in installments (yes I know…shouldn’t have) anyway she has paid 1/2 up front and was to pay a 1/4 on March 1 and the last installment April 1. We have this all in the lease very specifically that non payment will result in a breech of contract. Of course she doesn’t have the money to pay the deposit and as soon as she does she will….we gave her a 14 day extension but still she has now intention of paying until she has the money. We are going to start the 21 day notice to remedy or vacate by the 7th day. I just can’t seem to find anything about this type of process for a deposit since obviously most people take it up front. Is this something we can evict over? It is still a breech. Like I said the lease is very specific and we did have an attorney friend look it over although he isn’t a real-estate attorney.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Pam

      It’s a lease violation, like any other. You could give her a “XX day notice to pay or quit” due to the violation.

      You should check your state laws for the amount of notice you must give for a lease violation: Some states allow as little as 3 days notice to pay or quit, and you might not have to wait 21 days.

      I’ve definitely accepted incremental deposits before, but the trick I’ve used to ensure that it gets paid is that I have a clause in my lease that basically says “All payments go towards deposits and fees first, and any remaining funds will go towards unpaid rent”.

      The actual language I use is: “ALLOCATION OF PAYMENTS. All payments and deposits will be allocated first to any outstanding balances other than the amount owed for rent. Any remaining monies will allocated lastly to any rent balance.”

      For example, let’s pretend the rent is $1,000, and the total deposit is $1,000, but I’ve agreed to accept it over 2 months time, in $500 increments. In month 1, my tenant gives me $1,500, but in month 2, she only gives me $1,200 and says “I’ll pay the other $300 toward the deposit next month”. I would remind her of that lease clause that says payments go towards the deposit first – which means in month 2, she actually paid a $500 deposit, and only $700 of the rent. Therefore she is shy $300 on rent.

      As with any situation of unpaid rent, you can terminate the lease for non-payment – usually with shorter notice than a violation. Plus, its much easier to sue in court over rent, than it is over a deposit or fees.

      Please know that I’m not a lawyer, now is this legal advice. Please don’t use the lease language above without talking to your local attorney first.

      Good luck to you!

  • shiela

    An elderly lady moved into a neighbors room. It was suppose to be temporary. She cannot work, there was no lease or paperwork made up for her to sign and no document of any monies paid to him. He just let her move in with an oral agreement on the amount to be paid monthly. Recently he has turned off the water . He has also tried other means to hopefully get her to move out. Now, she is living in a bedroom only she could use the kitchen but it’s so dirty she doesn’t even want to go there and his whole house is so dirty she doesn’t want to leave her room. He’s trying to evict her but it’s just with a written notice, what can she do? She doesn’t have a lot of money but would love to move out now, but has nowhere to go.. Sure could use a little advise.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Sheila,

      If the owner has rightfully terminated the lease (or agreement), then the lady does not have a right to occupy the dwelling. The landlord can’t lock her out or shut off utilities, however, if the owner goes through the eviction process, with the courts, and wins, the sheriff will remove her by force.

      It’s really unfortunate, but she can’t stay there. She’s going to have to figure out another place to live. She can either decide on her own terms, or do nothing, and wait for the sheriff to remove her against her will – which is never pretty.

  • William King

    Are the process still the same with family members who move in? Unfortunately me and my grandmother are having issue with two family members, and they have been nothing but problems, and I don’t know what to do and the budget is tight.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi William,

      Many times, the eviction courts won’t even hear the case if the “tenants” were just family guests that had no responsibility for rent nor was there any sort of agreement. Plus, it also depends on how long they’ve been allowed to live there.

      You’d have to check with your local courts or a local landlord-tenant attorney on how best to proceed.

  • Anne Moss

    How to proceed if the tenant has paid NO utilities for over 9 months, is repeatedly late paying rent and owes rent now.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Anne,

      The time for sympathy is over. Start with step 4 in the article above.

      If you want them out sooner than the courts will allow, consider using a technique called “Cash for Keys”.

      After you reclaim the property, you can always sue the tenant for the unpaid bills in small claims court.

      Also, you might want to pay some of the more essential utilities to make sure they don’t put a lien on your property. Or, at least figure out which of your utilities can put a lien on your property:

      Keep in mind, I’m not a lawyer, nor is this legal advice. If you’re looking for legal help, please talk with a licensed attorney in your county.

  • michelle


    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Michelle,

      Generally speaking, a tenant cannot get evicted unless they have either damaged the property, violate a clause, or not paid rent.

      You should try to figure out why she is terminating your lease. If you’re all paid up in full including late fees, then she can’t terminate it for nonpayment.

      Assuming that the termination is valid, if you don’t leave then she will have to go through eviction court, upon which she will hire the sheriff to have you removed the force.

      If she is trying to terminate your lease unlawfully then you could just explain the case to the judge hopefully win. Please know that I’m not a lawyer nor is this legal advice and if you do end up getting summoned to court you should consult with an attorney.

  • Lisseth

    Hello Lucas
    I evicted one of my 3 tenants for non payment. Now the other 2 tenants are trying to get out of the lease with the excuse they can’t afford the place and they can’t get roommates to pay for rent. We think since the ski season is over in the mountains where the condo is, they are trying to get out of the lease to get a cheaper rent. They have still 6 months ahead to fulfill the lease.
    So can I put and ad in the paper and bring in a roommate so I get all the rent and they do not make a excuse and bail on me? What happens if the other tenants get robbed?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Lisseth,

      I’m just curious, how did you formally evict just one tenant? Did you have separate leases with each of them. If they are all on the same lease, you can’t get rid of one without getting rid of them all since they are tied with joint and several liability. If you signed separate leases, for a portion of the rent each, then they don’t have to make up the difference that you lost by evicting the other roommate. See what I mean?

      If they were on a single lease, and they didn’t pay in full, I would have terminate the whole thing and held them responsible for damages – I would have cared if it was just one problem tenant because they are considered one entity.

      Further, why won’t you just let them find another roommate? Shouldn’t that be their responsibility, not yours? Why would you try to find a roommate for them, not knowing if they will get along. Seems like a disaster waiting to happen.

      If they get robbed, they should call the police. If their stuff is stolen, their renter’s insurance should cover it (if they have any). Your homeowners insurance policy most likely does not cover personal property of tenants. That’s what renter’s insurance is for.

      If they bail on you, then you can look for a replacement tenant(s) and hold them responsible for the missing rent up until the point where a new tenant moves in.

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

      Further, you should check out your state laws on the topic:

  • John

    Hello lucas
    My tenant is not paying the rent or leaving the house. He also stopped replying back to my messages and will not open the door when i go to the house to talk to him. What do u think i should do? Ps i want to remove the tenant from the house quickly becasue i need to move in the house with my family.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi John,

      I’m sorry to hear that.

      The formal method of removing a tenant is to
      1. Terminate the lease with proper notice (different for each state:
      2. If the tenant doesn’t pay or leave, then file an eviction action in court
      3. go to your hearing, win the judgement
      4. hire the sheriff to remove the tenant by force
      5. change the locks

      If that takes too long for you, you could consider offering a “cash-for-keys” incentive, as described here:

      Good luck! Read through this article again for instructions on how to proceed, and talk to your local courthouse or a lawyer if you need help. I’m not a lawyer, nor is this legal advice.

  • Akhtar Qureshi

    Hi Lucas,

    I own a commercial office that I leased for five years to a tenant. The first year has just ended and now the tenant is no longer paying. I am working on evicting the tenant now and have sent the three day notice. I seem to understand the rest of the eviction procedure, I am just curious about how I would collect the full amount of the five year lease contract that he would have paid if he stayed regular with his payments? Would I have to sue the tenant in a separate case or include that claim within the eviction suit? Thank you.


    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Akhtar,

      I’m not really sure if this applies to commercial leases, but with residential situations, you wouldn’t be able to sue for the full lease term. The landlord has an obligation (in most states) to mitigate damages. Meaning, the landlord should try to find a replacement tenant, and as soon as the new tenant starts making payments, the old tenant is off the hook. Again, I’m not sure if it applies to commercial leases.

      Either way, small claims is probably your best way to go. Sometimes (depending on your county) you can get a monetary judgement with the eviction. Other times, you have to go through small claims.

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

  • Nicole


    My husband and I had a very close relationship with our landlord, we have been renting his 2 family house for almost 6 years now. Recently our landlord (owner of the house) passed away and had left a will naming the new owner of the house as his friend that he had been living with. Currently there is a problem tenant residing in the second floor apartment of the house whos lease has expired and has not paid rent going on 4 months now. The deed to the house has yet to be in the new landlords name since from what i know the distribution of the estate process has been complicated. So at this time the deed to the house is still under the deceased landlords name and the problem tenant is refusing to pay rent. How do we go about getting this tenant out and collect rent from him? This is truly a nightmare for everyone.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Nicole,

      It’s respectable that you want to help the situation by policing the delinquent tenant, however, I don’t see how you have any authority in the matter. I know it probably kills you to know that he is taking advantage of the situation, but since you are not the rightful owner or manager of the house, you have no eviction authority over the neighbor.

      Besides trying to help the new landlord, you really can’t get in the middle of it.

      I would encourage the new landlord to talk to a lawyer asap as to when he/she can start the eviction process. Perhaps that process can start immediately and doesn’t’ need to wait on probate – but I just don’t know for sure. I’m not a lawyer, and this certainly is not legal advice.

      I hope that helps a little.


    Hello, I rented a house to a deadbeat family they currently owe me march and
    april rent and come Thursday they will owe for may also some of the utilities are still in my namech I have been paying
    I hired a lawyer we followed the legal process we finally went to court april 22nd
    its been six days the judge still will not rule the people are still living completely
    free at an average cost of 73 dollars a day to me since its a no brainer why hasn ‘t the judge rueld

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Tim

      I’m sorry to hear that. In my experience, some Judges are hesitant to rule quickly because they are dealing with housing. It’s a basic need, and as public servants, they hesitate to make quick decisions. But that’s why you hire a lawyer – to help you get through this as fast as possible. Are you sure that your lawyer can do something else to help sped this along?

      • Tim Carr

        There are two judges in Buchanan county the one that heard the case and my lawyer My lawyer tells me that he cant talk to the judge because hes one also so I said have someone else in your firm call said you cant bother the judge It’ll piss him off (REALLY) I’m being told just wait well i waited 7 days at 73.00 per day not counting all they already owe is there nothing I can do other than keep writing checks for another family to live free in my house that I’ve owned for 9 years because they dont want to leave

  • George Scisco

    I am in last stages of eviction on my tenant Can I put a large for rent after eviction for non payment sign in my yard of the house I am eviction them from? just to give them the warm fuzzy felling they have giving me.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi George,

      You can certainly place a “for rent” sign in the yard any time you are legitimately trying to find tenants. It’s common sense, and a business need.

      Just to be safe, in the future, make sure you specify in your lease that you are allow to advertise the unit (however you see fit), 60 days in advance. That way, they can’t really argue the yard sign.

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

  • Thomas

    The leaseholder of the house I’m renting a room in (I’m listed as an occupant) is claiming that I need to pay a $100 late fee plus $10 a day for every day the rent was late. My father is the one who is paying my rent and is also the one whose employment history and information is listed on the housing application. My father normally pays by mailing a check, however, he lost track of time and couldn’t mail the check anymore so that it could arrive on the date the rent was due. Nevertheless, he was prepared to send the rent money through direct deposit or Paypal the day before rent was due so that it wouldn’t be late. I contacted the leaseholder and told him that my father wanted to speak to him regarding the rent for next month. At first the leaseholder agreed to speak to him, but has since, for unknown reasons, refused to speak to him under any circumstances now and in the future. Are my father and I responsible for the rent being late?

    • Lucas Hall


      Yes, I would imagine that the late fee would stand. Rent is due on the due date, no exceptions.

      I think it’s weird that the landlord refuses to talk to your dad, but non-the-less, your dad just needs to remember to send the money earlier next month.

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