Landlords do not have a universal right to evict their tenants. Landlords must follow strict rules to properly terminate the tenancy prior to any eviction. Thus, for renters to protect themselves, they must know their rights.

Basics of Termination of Tenancy

The proper way for a landlord to remove a renter is to give the renter written notice with enough time to move out or take other necessary measures. The written notice is not a random letter telling you to move out. The notice should either be a pre-printed form from the county or it should be a letter explicitly informing the tenant why he or she has to leave and the time period that the landlord expects the tenant to leave by.

Even if the tenant receives the written notice though, that does not mean the tenant needs to move out. The landlord will need to file an unlawful detainer lawsuit, and prove that the tenant did something wrong that gave rise to the eviction. A judge will determine whether the tenancy should end.

Notice of Termination

There are two types of evictions – with cause and without a cause. This merely affects the time period the landlord has to evict the tenant. Nonetheless, there are exceptions to prevent the landlord from removing the tenant.

For “with cause” evictions, the renter must have done something wrong to justify the landlord ending the lease. Common wrongs include:

  • Not paying rent, or consistently late in rent payment.
  • Violation of the terms of the lease, such as subleasing or having a pet (if the lease prevents it).
  • Causing extreme damage to the premises.
  • Conducting illegal activities in the premises.

For “without cause” evictions, the landlord may have the opportunity to evict you even if you did nothing wrong. Depending on your state, the landlord may remove you so long as he gives you the proper 30-days or 60-days notice (differs based on certain factors).

The caveat here is that the landlord may not remove you if you are in a rent controlled unit. The landlord may only evict you through the “with cause” route.

Eviction Lawsuit

When the termination period in the notice ends, the landlord must properly serve you with an eviction/unlawful detainer lawsuit to attempt to get rid of the tenant. Both parties will need to attend a court hearing. At the hearing, the tenant will have a right to defend him or herself. Many people opt to have a lawyer present to better tell their story.

Sheriff’s Removal of Tenant

If the landlord prevails, then the tenant must leave. If the renter decides to remain in the property anyways, the landlord cannot use self-help to force the tenant out. The landlord cannot enter into the unit and remove all of the tenant’s possessions. Instead, the landlord must go to the Sheriff’s office and have the Sheriff’s department escort the tenant out. 

Consulting an Attorney

If you would like more information on eviction matters, please contact a real estate attorney. The attorney will advocate for your needs and present you with your options.