How to Evict a Subtenant

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A master tenant can evict a subtenant, but liek a landlord, must follow the formal eviction process.

A tenant pursuing eviction of a subtenant must follow a formal eviction process that includes giving notice, filing court documents and proving that the subtenant has violated a sublease agreement. A tenant cannot legally have a subtenant if it is not allowed by her landlord and could even find herself, along with the subtenant, being evicted. The tenant who is named on the lease with the landlord—a master tenant—is ultimately responsible for the full rent amount and any violations committed by the subtenant.

Draft or complete a notice to quit. The notice must include a time frame to move out, the reason for eviction, and a way to remedy the problem, if there is one. Each state has its own requirements for notice periods, and notice periods vary based on the reason for eviction. Ending a month-to-month lease usually requires a 30-day notice, while nonpayment of rent may require as few as three days.

Serve your subtenant with a written notice to leave the property. This notice is not filed through the court and does not require a process server to deliver it. Hand deliver, post, or send it via certified mail to the subtenant.

File the eviction complaint and summons form in your local county court, civil court or housing court if the subtenant doesn't comply with the notice. The court clerk provides all paperwork to fill out. The complaint is a form that contains the eviction reason and any back rent owed. A court's website also typically provides various forms involved in the eviction process, including notices, summons and complaints, which are available for the public to download.

Provide copies of the written notice and lease agreement to the court clerk. Hire a process server or have an adult hand deliver the court summons form. It must be hand delivered, posted on the property, or mailed via certified mail.

Support the reason for eviction by providing documentation or witnesses that prove rent is owed or the lease was violated. At a minimum, provide the written sublease agreement, if there is one. If not, gather proof that an oral agreement for a sublease existed, such as previous rent payments received from the sublessee. Photos, text messages and police documents are other forms of proof that you would present in court if the reason for eviction has to do with another type of violation committed by the sublessee.

Attend the court hearing. You get a default judgment and eviction order if the subtenant does not show up. If the subtenant does show up, you argue your case for the judge.

Obtain a writ of execution, writ of possession or order of possession if the subtenant does not move out in the time frame provided after the hearing. The actual name of the writ or order varies from state to state, but the effect is the same. A sheriff or other authorized police officer removes the subtenant from the property as well as his personal possessions.


About the Author

Tiffany Garden has been a freelance writer since 2002, working in the commercial copywriting field. She has been published in a number of technical and gaming magazines, as well as on numerous websites. She also runs her own websites on a number of subjects, runs a handcrafted jewelry business and is a CompTIA A+ Certified computer technician.