July 7, 2023
Mason Sumsion

I once heard a story of a retired man who owned enough rental real estate to live a financially comfortable life. However, after years of feeling sorry for his tenants who couldn’t pay the rent and refusing to evict them, he lost all of his real estate and retirement income. When faced with the decision of whether to evict your tenants, do not let your emotions get the best of you. Rather, prioritize protecting your assets and future financial security.  

Below are 4 of the main reasons to lawfully evict a tenant:  

  • Nonpayment of Rent
  • Violations of Terms Within the Rental/Lease Agreement
  • Conducting Illegal Activity
  • Non-Renewal of the Lease Agreement
The eviction process typically takes a few weeks but if done improperly, can take a few months. Listed below are the steps of the eviction process:

Step 1:    Serve Tenant with an official Notice, which includes one or more of the following: 3-Day Notice to Pay, 3-Day Notice to Comply, and/or 3-Day Notice to Quit. Serving a tenant must happen in one of the following ways: personal delivery to the tenant, sending by certified/registered mail, or posting the notice on the front door or in a conspicuous place on the property. If the violation committed by the tenant is not resolved after this notice, you can proceed to step 2.  

Step 2:     File a complaint/summons with the court and serve tenant again with a complaint. For this step (as well as in step 3), a tenant must be served by someone not connected with the case (a constable is suggested). The tenant will then have the opportunity to contest the complaint within 3 business days.  

Step 3a: If tenant chooses not to contest, default judgment will be issued in favor of the Landlord. An Order of Restitution is to be served to the tenant and tenant will have to vacate the property within a certain period (typically within 3 days). If tenant continually refuses to vacate the property, it is recommended a constable be hired to forcefully remove the tenant from the premises (this can take another week or two).  

Step 3b: If tenant contests the complaint, an occupancy hearing will take place within 10 business days to determine if the tenant can remain in the rental unit while waiting for the final ruling from the eviction hearing. If the judge rules in favor of the Landlord, then Step 3a will take place. If no ruling has taken place, then there will be an Eviction Trial and Judgement that will take place within 60 days from when the complaint was filed. If the court rules in favor of the Landlord, then Step 3a proceeds. If the court rules in favor of the tenant, the tenant may remain in the property.  

The process of Evictions can be very tedious. Following all correct procedures and guidelines as the Landlord is imperative. The following are a list of crucial pointers to make sure you maintain legal conduct:  

  • Do not harass tenants in any way (verbally or physically) that would decrease their living experience including: shutting off utilities, illegal entry, changing locks, or refusing to perform repairs. Allow the legal system to perform justice in its own timely manner.  
  • If a tenant is behind on rent, do not accept partial rental payment in the middle of an eviction, unless you intend to allow them to remain in the property. Receiving partial rental payments will force you to start the eviction process over again from the beginning.  
  • Hire a constable from the start. Constables have their own process, and they don’t want to be held liable if you don’t follow the required eviction steps. Even if you’ve already served the tenant, the constable will start the process from the beginning to make sure the eviction is performed correctly.  
  • Remember, to prove anything in court, you must provide evidence. Be sure all agreements are made in writing and accurately documented. Furthermore, keep track of all photos and videos that may need to be used in court.  

Most evictions occur due to inadequate tenant screening and improperly executed lease agreements. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” If you need assistance in protecting your assets by enhancing your lease agreements, need help with tenant screening/background checks, or are in a situation where you need help with evicting a tenant, please contact us. Here at Sumsion Business Law we have the resources to make sure your greatest real estate assets are secure.  

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