How to Evict Your Deadbeat Tenants Legally

Published: 09th February 2009
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One enormous issue real estate investors face with income property concerns tenants. Naturally, you always hope you can fill your apartment or other investment property with good tenants that pay the rent on time and act in an orderly fashion, but this is not always the case. Unfortunately, there are times when you must evict the tenant.

Before we look at three causes that enable legal evictions in most states, however, let's consider a list of unit conditions that may be considered the tenant's responsibility.

Tenant Responsibility

1. Tenants are responsible to keep the unit clean and safe. A tenant should be expected to have some cleaning capabilities such as keeping kitchens and bathrooms cleaned, and removing all garbage they generate to the appropriate receptacles or designated location for city pickup. The idea is to make the tenant responsible to maintain clean living conditions in and around his or her rental property unit both, for cleanliness sake and to prevent infestations.

2. Tenants are responsible to use fixtures and appliances in the unit properly. Tenants are not permitted to abuse fixtures and appliances in the rental unit, must exercise reasonable care not to overload electrical outlets, and should not flush large objects down a toilet in the unit.

3. Tenants are responsible to fix or pay for damage they cause. As the controlling factor living in the rental unit, if the tenant creates a situation that affects the habitability of the rental unit, he or she can be held responsible. If a tenant puts a hole in a wall, for example, puts an ungodly stain in the carpet, or breaks one of the fixtures or appliances, he or she must arrange to either fix or pay to repair the damages.

It's not a long list, and you can list more detailed tenant responsibilities in your lease or rental agreement. Understand, however, that an effort to hold a tenant responsible doesn't mean that it will hold up in court. As a rental property owner it's always best to become familiar with legislation in your area and understand what responsibilities you can and cannot shift to tenants.

Okay, let's look at three types of evictions recognized by most state laws.

Legal Causes for Eviction

1. Nonpayment of Rent: Nonpayment, one of the most common types of eviction procedure, is when a landlord attempts to evict a tenant for not paying the rent. A lease or rental agreement will state the due date for rent payment, and some state laws extend the due date for a tenant to pay the rent by a certain amount of days referred to as the prescribed grace period. If the rent is paid in full within the legal grace period of these states, an eviction for nonpayment cannot be started; a landlord must wait until the legal grace period has lapsed to start an eviction. For instance, if the due date is on the first day of the month and the legal grace period is 10 days, the rent will not be due until eleventh day of the month and you cannot start the eviction until the twelfth of that month. In a nonpayment eviction, however, the rental owner should be aware that the tenant might try to show that the rental unit was sub par as a defense for not paying rent.

2. Lapse of Time: Lapse-of-time evictions are when a landlord evicts the tenant because that tenant's lease or rental agreement has expired. A lapse-of-time eviction can be done when a lease is in its final month, and is the type of eviction procedure commonly used by landlords who give month-to-month tenancies most commonly use this type of eviction procedure. A lapse-of-time eviction can be done without giving any other reason than the owner wants his or her unit back; the contract is terminated because of its expiration only. So it doesn't matter what condition the tenant claims the unit is in because the condition has no relevance to the expiration of the agreement.

3. Nuisance: Landlords have a right to evict tenants if the tenant has become a nuisance to the property as long as the agreement includes a nuisance clause. A nuisance could be someone who throws loud parties every night or who continuously disturbs the neighbors, resulting in police visits to the property. In this case, tenants have a right to use and occupy a rental unit in any way they want as long as it does not infringe on the quiet enjoyment of other tenants in the building or violate federal, state, and local laws.

Real estate investors should bear in mind that when it comes to rental property ownership, most legislation holds the landlord responsible, not the tenant. The landlord is always the bottom line regarding problems that arise at the property.

Again, it's highly recommended, that as a rental property owner, you become familiar with legislation in your area and understand what responsibilities you can and cannot shift to tenants. You can't afford to fill your rental income property with deadbeat tenants, but at the same time, you don't want to get into trouble with the law either.

About the Author
James Kobzeff is the developer of ProAPOD - leading real estate investing software since 2000. Create a cash flow analysis for rental properties in minutes! Go to =>

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