How Does a Landlord Go About Evicting a Tenant?

By Laura Reynolds
a Landlord, a Tenant

DRW & Associates, Inc.

Nobody Wins

Every option should be explored before taking the final steps of eviction. Many tenants fall victim to medical or work problems and want to work with a landlord to keep their home. If the landlord wants to avoid the cost and upset of an eviction, it's wise to learn to recognize which tenants are worth renegotiating a lease with. For those tenants who've repeatedly violated the terms of their lease and aren't responsive, though, eviction is often the only option for a landlord who wants to maintain the value of his property and peace in the community. Any landlord who is considering an eviction procedure would be wise to consult an attorney with experience who can guide the process, since failure to notify properly and meet time deadlines could result in denial of the eviction petition by a court.

Notice and Process

A landlord who wants to evict a tenant must follow the procedure outlined in relevant state law, known as "notice" and "process." The tenant must be notified of the reason that the landlord plans to evict him, such as failure to pay rent or violation of the terms of a lease. Most states require specific reasons to be listed in the eviction notice. If at the end of a certain period of time (20 to 60 days in most states) the tenant has not fixed the violation, paid the rent or entered into negotiations with the landlord, the landlord may file an eviction action, or petition, with the local court that deals with evictions. In the petition, the landlord must provide proof of violation and document proper legal notice to the tenant. A copy of the suit must be served to the tenant by a process server other than the landlord. Once the tenant is served, the landlord should not contact or speak to him.

Court Action Required

The court will notify both landlord and tenant of a date for a preliminary hearing for the eviction. Tenants may choose to vacate the premises before the court date but are still liable for any rent payments or damages. The tenant has the right to answer the charges. The court will attempt to mediate the differences between the two parties and set a date for a hearing to determine the facts and issue findings. If the court decides in favor of the landlord, it will order the eviction of the tenant by the county sheriff. Sheriffs notify tenants of their intent to execute the eviction and will frequently allow tenants to vacate before serving the eviction order.

About the Author

An avid perennial gardener and old house owner, Laura Reynolds has had careers in teaching and juvenile justice. A retired municipal judgem Reynolds holds a degree in communications from Northern Illinois University. Her six children and stepchildren served as subjects of editorials during her tenure as a local newspaper editor.