Despite your best efforts to find great residents for your rental property, your tenant is two weeks late on rent – again. Or maybe neighbors complain of frequent loud parties and disruptive behavior. Or worse, you inspect and find the tenant has caused significant damage to the home.
You may need to resort to eviction to end the tenancy as soon as possible, before you lose too much money in unpaid rent or damage costs.
Eviction is a legal process. In Washington, D.C. and many states, including Virginia, landlords are prohibited from what’s known as a self-help eviction, such as moving a tenant’s belongings out, changing the locks or turning off the utilities to force tenants out.
It is critical to research your local laws regarding allowable reasons for evictions and the requirements of the process or to consult an attorney or skilled property management company with local expertise. Not following the rules can often result in a dismissal or ruling for the tenant and the need to start the lengthy process again, which is a risky proposition with a problem tenant.
The eviction process typically starts by giving tenants notice about the problem. If they are late paying rent, landlords typically must give a written notice giving five days to pay up or vacate. For other lease violations, landlords typically must detail violations and how to fix them and allow tenants longer to fix the problem, often 30 days.
If tenants fail to pay or correct the problem in the specified time, landlords can then file eviction proceedings in the local court that handles evictions. The court will schedule a hearing. Timelines and procedures vary by jurisdiction.
If you win a judgment of eviction against your tenant, they might leave on their own accord. Otherwise, local law enforcement typically schedules and oversees the actual eviction following an order from the court. Landlords often need to arrange for a crew to remove the tenant’s belongings.
Eviction can be a lengthy and expensive process. Exhaustive tenant screening to ensure you place well-qualified, responsible tenants is the best insurance against eviction and financial losses and headaches that come with it.
Professional property management companies have the experience and resources to thoroughly vet all potential tenants and prevent the need for evictions. If problems do occur, managers know the system and can ensure everything is handled properly to get the best and quickest resolution.