Legal Reasons You Can Evict a Tenant
Investment property is a source of income and a means of building wealth. Unfortunately, things sometimes go wrong, and landlords must initiate eviction proceedings. These legal reasons you can evict a tenant generally apply, although laws vary in different cities and states. Please note, this article contains general information, and one should not construe it as legal advice. Seek professional counsel from your attorney before moving to evict a tenant.
Nonpayment of Rent
A lease is a binding contract. Tenants agree to pay a set amount of rent by a specific day each month. The pandemic of 2020 threw this arrangement into serious doubt, with massive layoffs and budget cuts. Many tenants are suffering financial uncertainty, and governments placed moratoriums on evictions.
Property owners endured mounting expenses and loss of income during COVID-19 moratoriums, but these will end eventually. Draw up plans now to determine how to collect back rent or negotiate payment plans. Landlords should comply with all notice requirements in their lease and document all correspondence. An eviction will come as a last resort if a tenant can’t get back on their feet or refuses a reasonable payment plan.
The discovery of illegal activities on the property may be cause for eviction. Leases should make it clear that engaging in such activity is grounds for eviction. When a property owner discovers illegal activity, such as drug sales, they should contact the police and their attorney. Rules vary from state to state about how and when a landlord can evict a tenant engaging in prohibited acts.
Violating Policies Clearly Stated in the Lease
Some common lease provisions prohibit pets, smoking, subletting without notice or authorization, or running a business out of the property. Violating these clauses constitutes legal grounds for eviction if the lease says so. Give tenants some time to come into compliance. Only if violations persist after notice and a probationary period should eviction become an option.
Severe Property Damage
Landlords should expect ordinary wear and tear, but serious property damage that requires major repair may be grounds for eviction. Scratches on wood floors or minor scuffs in the paint are typically fine. Knocking down walls, overloading circuits, causing water damage through negligence, or failing to keep the place clean to the extent it becomes a health hazard may give a property owner cause to initiate eviction proceedings—after notice and an opportunity to repair the damage.
Staying on After the Lease Expires
A tenant who sticks around after their lease expires and doesn’t pay rent becomes a squatter. Consult your attorney if a tenant won’t move out when they’re supposed to (some locations have protections for tenants in this situation), and document all notices and demands for payment you’ve made as you explore your options to evict.
Excalibur Homes is among the most experienced residential property management companies in Atlanta. We help real estate investors minimize the risk of eviction through tenant screening and rent collection services.