What is a Tenant Eviction?

Malcolm Tatum

A tenant eviction is an effort by a landlord to force a current tenant to vacate property owned by that landlord. In many nations, landlords will evict a tenant that is in arrears on the rent or fails to abide by the terms and conditions contained in the rental or lease agreement. Should the tenant refuse to vacate the premises by the date specified by the landlord, many communities provide support through law enforcement and court systems to enforce the eviction notice.

A 30 day notice of eviction posted on an apartment door.
A 30 day notice of eviction posted on an apartment door.

Laws regarding tenant eviction vary from one location to another. Often, a landlord must provide written notice that the tenant is to vacate the premises within a specific amount of time. Many jurisdictions require that the tenant be granted up to 30 days to move from the rental property. The idea of a 30 day eviction notice helps to protect the rights of the tenant, in that it is possible to legally contest the eviction during that time frame, as well as provide the tenant with a reasonable period of time to secure other living quarters.

Past due rent will likely lead to a tenant eviction.
Past due rent will likely lead to a tenant eviction.

The actual process of enforcing a tenant eviction can be extremely costly and time consuming. Should a tenant refuse to leave, the landlord must resort to aid from the legal system to force the tenant to vacate. In many communities, this means filing suit in a local court and waiting for the case to be placed on the court docket. In the interim, the tenant remains in residence. This means that if it takes three months for the case to be heard, the tenant continues to live in the rental property, even if he or she is not paying rent.

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Should the court uphold the tenant conviction, it may order local law enforcement officers to oversee the actual eviction. Often, the landlord is responsible for defraying the costs associated with having law officers present as the tenant’s furniture and personal belongings are removed from the apartment or house. Along with absorbing court costs, this added expense can easily amount to over one year’s worth of rent, in addition to any past due rent that remains unpaid.

In just about every jurisdiction, landlords must make sure to document every effort that is made to collect past due rent or to otherwise resolve the issue with the tenant before invoking a tenant eviction. When violations of conduct or other terms found in the rental agreement occur, notice of the violations are typically provided to the tenant in writing, making it possible to avoid those infractions in the future. Should the tenant persist in committing those infractions, the landlord will often move forward with formal tenant eviction proceedings as a means of protecting his or her investment in the rental property and maintaining the business of other tenants in the building.

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