Evicting a Tenant: Common Mistakes to Avoid

When a landlord comes to the decision that evicting a tenant is necessary, the process can seem like a daunting prospect. The truth is that evicting a tenant involves a lot of paperwork, legal work, and procedural steps that must follow a strict timeline and procedure. There are, however, a number of common mistakes that landlords often make during the eviction process, which could lead to costly court appearances or even eviction lawsuits.

What You Need to Know Before Evicting a Tenant

Before you begin the process of evicting a tenant, it is important to understand your state’s laws and regulations regarding eviction. Knowing your rights and those of the tenant will ensure that all eviction procedures are followed correctly and eliminate any risk of an expensive legal battle.

Common Mistakes Landlords Make That Could Lead to an Expensive Eviction

Despite their best intentions, landlords can still make mistakes that could end up costing them money. Avoiding the following mistakes is key to making the eviction process as smooth and cost-effective as possible:

1. Failing to Provide Proper Notice

The most important step in evicting a tenant is providing proper notice. Depending on the situation, the notice period can range from three-days to 30-days. If the landlord fails to provide the required notice, the courts could nullify the eviction proceedings.

2. Allowing the Tenant to Stay After the Notice has Expired

Once the landlord has given the tenant notice that they must vacate by a certain date, they must not allow the tenant to stay beyond that date unless they have made specific arrangements with the tenant. Allowing the tenant to stay past the notice expiration date could be seen as the landlord forfeiting the right to evict the tenant.

3. Not Understanding the Eviction Process

It is important that the landlord understands the eviction process. Landlords should not rely solely on their property manager or attorney for advice on eviction procedures. A lack of understanding of the legal process could lead to a lengthy court battle if the eviction process isn’t followed correctly.

4. Threatening the Tenant

A landlord should never threaten the tenant during the eviction process. In some states, this could be seen as intimidating the tenant and could lead to eviction proceedings being overturned.

5. Using Retaliation Tactics

Retaliation tactics, such as increasing the rent or decreasing services, should never be used in order to evict a tenant. These tactics may be seen as a violation of the tenant’s rights and could result in an expensive eviction lawsuit.

6. Failing to Make Repairs

Before evicting a tenant, the landlord should ensure that all repairs have been made to the rental property. Failing to make necessary repairs could lead to the court overturning the eviction proceedings.

7. Refusing to Accept Payment

If the tenant offers to pay rent after the eviction notice has been served, the landlord should still accept the payments. Refusing to accept the payments could be seen as the landlord forfeiting the right to evict the tenant.

8. Failing to File the Proper Documents

When evicting a tenant, the landlord must ensure that all the necessary documents are filed in a timely manner. Failing to file these documents properly could extend the eviction process, or even result in an expensive legal battle.

9. Not Keeping a Record of the Eviction Process

A landlord should maintain a complete record of all eviction proceedings, including the notice they provided, the eviction paperwork they filed, and any other communications with the tenant. Without this information, the landlord could find themselves in a legal battle.

10. Not Informing the Tenant of Their Rights

When evicting a tenant, the landlord must ensure that the tenant is aware of their rights. The landlord must inform the tenant of the right to appeal, their right to a hearing, and any other eviction procedures that must be followed.


Evicting a tenant is not an easy task and could lead to some costly legal battles if the process is not done properly. It is important that landlords understand their rights and the eviction process, and that they avoid making the common mistakes listed above. Be sure to follow all local tenant laws and to provide adequate notice and documentation throughout the eviction process, in order to ensure that the eviction is done correctly and without issue.

What are the penalties for illegal eviction of a tenant?

The penalties for illegal eviction of a tenant can vary depending on the state. For example, in California, the penalties for illegal eviction may include damages such as: the tenant’s actual damages; up to three times the tenant’s rent; up to $2,000 in statutory damages; reimbursement of attorney’s fees if the tenant sued for an illegal eviction; plus any applicable civil or criminal fines. In addition to monetary damages, a landlord who is convicted of an illegal eviction may face a jail sentence of up to six months or a state prison term of up to three years.

What legal recourse do tenants have for illegal evictions?

Tenants who face an illegal eviction can file a lawsuit in civil court against the landlord. Depending on the circumstances, tenants may seek money damages, such as reimbursement of rent paid, or an injunction to prevent the landlord from going forward with the eviction. Additionally, tenants can contact their local housing agency to report the illegal eviction and ask for legal assistance.

What is considered an illegal eviction?

An illegal eviction is when a landlord uses force or threatens to use force to force a tenant out of a rental property without going through the proper legal process. This includes changing locks, shutting off utilities, or attempting to physically remove the tenant.

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