What’s a landlord to do when no measure of communication successfully brings a tenant in to compliance with a term of the rental agreement? In most situations, the final step to removing a problem tenant is eviction.
Generally speaking, an eviction may occur after the landlord has already previously notified the tenant of their failure to observe some material term of the lease. Notable examples of types of issues which may lead to eviction are:
- Failure to pay rent or other fees owed
- Smoking in a no-smoking unit
- Having an unauthorized pet in a unit which is not a service animal
- Repeatedly violating rules in the lease related to tenant behavior
- Committing a crime at the property
Should you have some sort of violation of the lease occur, a good first step is to communicate the issue to the tenant in writing. This can be a warning letter if you want to give the tenant an opportunity to resolve the issue without beginning a formal notice process. A warning is not required, though, and landlords may choose to immediately begin the formal notification process to gain tenant compliance and open up their option to evict, if necessary.
An actual eviction would begin should the tenant fail to comply with a properly delivered notice to comply. Proper delivery of a notice includes hand delivering a notice (one copy per tenant signed on the lease) in person to a tenant, or by posting copies and also mailing copies of the notice via USPS (request a certificate of mailing receipt).
If the tenant fails to comply with the notice in the stated period of time a landlord may begin the eviction process by filing an unlawful detainer. This can be done by the landlord, or by hiring an evictions attorney to handle the process on the landlord’s behalf.
If an eviction is granted by a judge, the tenant will be given a date by which they must vacate the rental. If they fail to vacate by that date/time, the sheriff will appear at the property to remove them from the unit.
Regarding the tenant’s items, they must request the landlord to provide storage of their items should they be evicted. The request form is provided to the tenant when served with a writ of restitution. The tenant must complete and return the form to the landlord within three days. If the tenant fails to do so the landlord has no obligation to store the tenant’s belongings.
If the tenant does request storage and the cumulative value of the items is at least $250, the landlord must provide storage. The belongings may be stored in the rental property. The landlord must then give notice of intent to sell the items to the tenant’s last known address. The landlord may sell or dispose of any items not claimed after thirty (30) days.
If you’re not comfortable handling a court eviction process on your own, it’s probably a good idea to research and find a good attorney prior to ever finding yourself in need of beginning an eviction to ensure that your process commences as quickly as possible. Consult the RHAWA.org Vendor Directory for help.
Landlords should also be aware that a new state law – effective July 23, 2017 – deals directly with situations where squatters are at a property. In those instances, where the illegal occupant cannot produce evidence of having legal residence at the property within the past 12 months, a landlord is advised to contact the police and advise them they have an illegal squatter. The police have the power to immediately arrest and remove the individual(s) in such a situation.