The Eviction Process: What Every Landlord Should Know

Every landlord desires that their tenants pay their rent on time and keep their property in responsible condition. Unfortunately, not ever landlord-tenant relationship will go according to plan. From time to time, it’s necessary for a landlord to evict a tenant. Knowing the eviction process, what is and is not allowed under the law, and what to do if tenants refuse to leave is crucial for landlords to protect their rights and interests.

What Is an Eviction?

An eviction, also known as unlawful detainer, is the legal process of removing a tenant from the property which they are renting. The process of eviction includes the landlord serving the tenant with a notice to vacate the premises, filing paperwork in civil court, and then obtaining a court order of eviction.

Types of Eviction

There are two types of eviction:

  • Non-payment of rent: The most common type of eviction occurs when the tenant fails to pay rent. Usually, the landlord will give the tenant a 3-5-day notice to vacate the premises and to either pay the past due balance or leave.
  • Lease violations: This type of eviction occurs when the tenant fails to comply with the terms of their lease agreement. These violations may include subletting, having pets, damaged property, or illegal activities. Again, the landlord must give the tenant a 3-5-day notice or vacate the property before initiating the eviction process.

The Eviction Process

Once the landlord has decided to initiate the eviction process, they must adhere to the state and local laws that govern evictions. The process will typically include the following steps:

  1. Serving the tenant with a notice to vacate: The landlord must serve the tenant with the appropriate legal notice, which will include how much time the tenant has to vacate the property. This notice must be served according to the legal guidelines in the jurisdiction.
  2. Filing an eviction lawsuit: This is the next legal step. The landlord must file a lawsuit in court if the tenant fails to leave by the prescribed deadline. The tenant can learn more about the lawsuit by attending the initial court appearance.
  3. Obtaining a court order of eviction: After the court hearing, the judge will either grant or deny the landlord’s request for an eviction. If the judge grants the eviction, the tenant has a certain amount of time to vacate the property before the landlord can move forward with the actual eviction. This is typically 5-10 days.
  4. Actual eviction: Once the eviction order has been granted and the tenant has failed to vacate the property by the prescribed deadline, the landlord can proceed with an eviction. This is done with the assistance of a local law enforcement officer who will physically remove the tenant and their belongings from the property.

What Is Not Allowed in the Eviction Process?

It’s important that landlords adhere to the eviction process laws in their jurisdiction. They must avoid doing any of the following:

  • Unreasonably delayed the process
  • Refused to accept tenant’s payments
  • Interrupted utilities to the property, including gas, electricity, and water
  • Removed the tenant’s property from the premises
  • Harassed the tenant or attempted to intimidate them
  • Locked the tenant out without a court order
  • Threatened the tenant with physical violence
  • Entered the tenant’s unit without notice

What to Do if Tenants Refuse to Leave

In some cases, a tenant may refuse to leave the premises even after the landlord has obtained a court order of eviction. The landlord must obtain a writ of possession from the court to proceed with the eviction. This document enables the landlord to hire a local law enforcement officer to physically remove the tenant from the property.


The eviction process can be complicated and time-consuming, but understanding the elements of the law and the proper steps to take can save landlords a lot of stress and heartache in the long run. When it comes to tenant evictions, it’s important for landlords to know their rights and to stick to the legal process.

How long does the eviction process typically take?

The amount of time it takes to complete the eviction process depends on several factors, including how fast the eviction paperwork is served to the tenant and how quickly the tenant responds. Generally, the entire eviction process can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months before a court order is issued to require the tenant to leave the premises.

What steps are involved in an eviction?

1. Serve the tenant with a written notice: Depending on the reason for evicting the tenant, the landlord must serve the tenant with a written notice in the proper legal form outlining the landlord’s intention to terminate the tenancy.

2. File an eviction lawsuit: If the tenant does not move as a result of the notice, the landlord must bring a lawsuit against the tenant in the local court and serve the tenant with a summons and complaint.

3. Attend a hearing: The tenant must be given the opportunity to appear in court and defend themselves against the eviction.

4. Get a judgment: After the hearing, if the court rules in favor of the landlord, a judgment will be issued ordering the tenant to move out.

5. Contact the police for assistance: If the tenant does not comply with the court order, the landlord can ask the local sheriff’s department to assist with the eviction.

What is the difference between an eviction notice and an eviction order?

An eviction notice is a formal document issued by a landlord giving the tenant a certain amount of time (usually between 30 and 90 days) to either pay rent or leave the property. An eviction order is a judicial order issued by a court directing a tenant to vacate a premises. An eviction order typically follows an eviction notice if the tenant does not comply with its terms.

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