Your ability to evict a tenant who's causing you a problem depends on the nature of the problem and whether you have a lease.
If you have a lease and your tenant is just a mild annoyance, you're probably stuck with that person until the lease expires. However, if your tenant isn't paying rent or is causing damage to your property, you have options.
You Can't Just Change the Locks
The worst thing you can do is lock your tenant out of your property. A legal proceeding is required to evict a tenant. If you don't follow the procedure, the court may fine you - and allow your tenant to stay.
Different Eviction Processes
Depending on your state's laws and why you want to get rid of your tenant, the process may vary. Eviction because of bad behavior is usually more difficult than eviction because of unpaid rent. Your tenant must usually have violated the lease terms it in some way. You'll probably need proof.
In some states, you must file one type of proceeding to get your tenant out and collect past due rent, and another type if you want to evict for reasons that don't involve money.
You Must Give Notice
All evictions require that you give your tenant notice before taking action. The first notice sets a limited time for your tenant to pay you or to stop the troublesome behavior. In both cases, if your tenant does not comply with the demands in your notice, you can then file a lawsuit to evict.
Your Tenant May Win the Lawsuit
After you file for eviction, you and your tenant will get your day in court. You'll both have an opportunity to tell a judge your side of the story. If your tenant wins, your only option is to wait until the lease expires. However, you can usually sue your tenant for the costs of damages to your dwelling in a separate legal proceeding.
Removing Your Tenant Is a Separate Step
If you win the eviction lawsuit, the court will order your tenant to leave, usually by issuing a "writ of execution." If your tenant doesn't move out voluntarily in a certain number of days, the sheriff will use the writ to forcibly remove the person from your property.
A Real Estate Lawyer Can Help
The law surrounding the eviction of problem tenants is complicated. Plus, the facts of each case are unique. This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. For more detailed, specific information, please contact a real estate lawyer.