Guide to evicting a tenant

Being a landlord can be great. You get some use out of a property that would otherwise stay empty and someone else finds a home. If you’re lucky, you may even end up making friends with your tenants! But sometimes, things don’t quite go to plan. Tenants may turn out not to follow your rules. Or worse still, they may stop being able to afford rent. It’s more common than you might expect! In fact, New Jersey movers are quite used to emergency relocations due to such issues. So as a landlord, you must prepare for evicting a tenant in case something goes wrong. This guide should help you with the process!

Before evicting a tenant, you must familiarize yourself with the relevant laws

Many new landlords make the mistake of believing that they can evict their tenants whenever they want on whatever grounds just because they own the property. This is not true. The tenancy agreement that your tenant signs when moving in is a legally binding document for both parties. That means you can’t just call eviction movers NJ on your tenants whenever you want! Your tenants have legal rights just as you have legal obligations defined in your agreement. So it’s important that you brush up on your knowledge of the relevant law if you’re thinking of evicting a tenant.

Law books on a desk.
Do your research to make sure the law is on your side.

Know what you can and can’t do

There are a number of laws regarding eviction and they differ from state to state. It’s very important, therefore, that you find laws pertaining to your particular situation and your particular state. That is not, however, to say that they don’t have some things in common. So here are some things you should not do under any circumstance:

  • forcefully remove the tenant from the property
  • remove any of their belongings from the property
  • harass the tenant to force them to leave (this includes verbally assaulting them, threatening them, damaging their property and more)
  • shut off utilities on the property in an attempt to make the tenant leave
  • change the locks and leave the tenant locked out of the property

It is highly encouraged that you talk to your tenant regarding the eviction before you start court proceedings. You may be able to come to an agreement with them that works for you both or they may agree to leave voluntarily. But if that doesn’t work, there are legal steps you can take to evict if necessary.

Identifying a reason for eviction is the first step to evicting a tenant

You will need a good reason to evict a tenant legally. Disagreeing with them or just wanting them out is not good enough. So don’t count on seeing Ridgewood movers NJ helping your tenant move out if you can’t find a legitimate reason to kick them out. This will be the first and arguably most important step in the process.

Person signing a contract.
Go through your tenant’s lease and find a reason for eviction.

What are some legitimate reasons for eviction?

The reasons for eviction vary and their legal merit depends on local laws. But among the most common acceptable reasons for evicting are:

  • not paying rent: this is the most common reason for eviction; since paying rent is the tenant’s primary obligation, you can evict them if they don’t comply with it
  • damaging the property: virtually all leases include a clause that forbids serious damage to the property; if you notice your tenant deliberately doing so, you can evict them
  • violating the terms of the lease: since the lease is a contract, breaking any clauses in it allows you to evict the tenant not obeying the terms
  • committing crime on the property: you can evict a tenant for any illegal activities you notice happening on the property
  • end of the leasing period: once the leasing period is over, you are free to evict your current tenant if you don’t want them to stay and extend the contract

Send an eviction notice to your tenant to make the proceedings formal

You must inform your tenant of your plan to evict them formally and in writing. So what you need to do is send an eviction notice. An eviction notice is a formal letter notifying the tenant of the landlord’s intention to evict them and the grounds for it. Since regulations once again vary from state to state, you will need to consult local laws regarding what the notice should contain and how it should be delivered. A good piece of advice, however, is to make it as detailed as possible: include the tenant’s information, the reasoning behind your decision and the date when the lease was signed.

Start the court proceedings for evicting a tenant

You may notice that your tenant isn’t doing any packing for a move even after you send an eviction notice to them. If that is the case, you will need to file for eviction at your local courthouse. You can get help from a lawyer for this step, but it isn’t necessary. A hearing date will be set at which point you and your tenant will both have the opportunity to present your cases to a judge.

A judge's gavel.
You will have to go to court in order to evict legally.

Attending the hearing is important

Since you’re not allowed to evict a tenant yourself, you must go through the legal system. This means that you absolutely need the court’s decision to be in your favor. So go to the hearing prepared! Bring all the necessary documents, present evidence for why your tenant should be evicted and make the right impression!

Evicting a tenant and collecting overdue rent

Once the judge rules, your tenant will be given a certain time window to vacate the property. This can be anywhere from 2 days to 2 weeks. You must respect this decision – do not try to force your tenant to leave before the eviction period is over! However, if you don’t see residential movers NJ moving your tenant out after that period is over, you can call the local Sheriff’s department to escort them out.

Once your tenant is off the property, make sure to run through it and check for damage especially if damage to property is the main reason for eviction. After that, the only thing left is to collect unpaid rent. Yet again, your best course of action for this is to go through courts. But if local small claims courts don’t come through, you can also turn to a private debt collector.

Understand that evicting a tenant is a part of your job as a landlord

Evicting a tenant can be stressful and unpleasant. But at the end of the day, it comes with the job. If you’re a landlord for a while, you will eventually come across tenants who need and deserve eviction. So get it over and done with and move on with new and better renters!

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