Skip to Content

Tenants, Evictions, and Unlawful Detainer, Oh My!

Clever Eviction Notice On DoorThe more intricate detail of owning Clever rental properties is taking into account the concept of an unlawful detainer. By definition, an unlawful detainer is a tenant who continues to live in a rental property despite having no legal right to do so. Suppose a case of an unlawful detainer has happened. In that case, rental property owners can then use it as a legal basis to start the eviction process. However, evicting a tenant due to unlawful detainer needs a court case and, in some cases, a jury trial. In the succeeding paragraphs, we will discuss the basics of the lawful detainer, sample cases of unlawful detainer, and what to do when it happens.

A Legal Basis for Eviction

For almost all rental property owners, the idea of unlawful detainer will usually become relevant if you must evict a tenant. However, unlawful detainer should not be the only legal basis for eviction. It does give landlords the right to sue for a tenant’s removal. There are specific rules and regulations in each state that must be carefully followed when evicting a tenant as it is a delicate matter. Once a tenant has possession of the property, a landlord cannot easily, for any reason, ask them to leave. This includes not paying rent, violating the lease, or even canceling the lease. Rather, it’s crucial to thoroughly document the matter and know your legal basis for eviction before making your case to the appropriate local courts.

Unlawful detainer can be relevant to a number of situations. Continue reading to learn more about the three most common ones.

Example 1: The tenant refuses to leave after the lease ends.

If a tenant refuses to move out even after the lease has expired, this is the time when you might want to use an unlawful detainer to evict the tenant. You are not able, legally, to force a tenant to move out once their lease ends. If you alter the locks, call the sheriff, or do any other attempts that are illegal, it could be used against you, and you could be sued by your tenant instead. What you can do, if you have a tenant who refuses to move out, is to document the situation and file a petition with the local court. You must also make certain to provide your tenants with the court documents. From there, before you can continue with the rest of the eviction process, you will need to follow the eviction process given by the court system to get a judge’s ruling.

Example 2: The tenant stops paying rent.

When a tenant stops paying their rent, this could be a reason to use unlawful detainer to evict that tenant. Nonpayment of rent is a common thing and has different causes. There are some tenants that are waiting for their paychecks to come or may simply forget. But if you have a tenant who has not paid their rent after several reminders and requests, you may need to turn to eviction. When that happens, be sure to diligently follow any grace period stated in your lease and give your tenant one more opportunity to pay. If you boycott this, your petition may not be successful in court.

Example 3: The tenant refuses to leave after the landlord terminates the lease.

Unlawful detainer may happen if your tenant does not move out even after you have terminated your lease with them. There are several reasons why a landlord may terminate a lease, whether due to the tenant violating one or more terms or for other reasons. If you need to terminate a lease, and your tenant will not leave, you can then use the legal basis of unlawful detainer to plead to the court for them to move out. No matter what, be certain to document everything and follow the legal process step by step. Though a situation of unlawful detainer is not an excuse to breach a tenant’s rights.

Once you get the court’s judgment, you will usually receive a writ that gives your tenant one more chance to leave your rental property voluntarily. In almost all states, this writ is sent to your tenant by local law enforcement, not by you directly. Having a judgment and a writ in hand, you can then recruit the assistance of law enforcement to remove your tenant and regain possession of your property.

Evictions are a time-consuming legal process that can rapidly become a serious situation. However, it is a common part of owning rental properties. For assistance with a tenant who is in violation of their lease or refuses to leave, give Real Property Management Momentum a call so we can better help you. Our professionals can assist you to achieve the eviction process safely and legally and get your property back as quickly as possible. To speak with a Clever property manager, contact us online or call at 417-220-4100 today!

We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.

The Neighborly Done Right Promise

The Neighborly Done Right Promise ® delivered by Real Property Management, a proud Neighborly company

When it comes to finding the right property manager for your investment property, you want to know that they stand behind their work and get the job done right – the first time. At Real Property Management we have the expertise, technology, and systems to manage your property the right way. We work hard to optimize your return on investment while preserving your asset and giving you peace of mind. Our highly trained and skilled team works hard so you can be sure your property's management will be Done Right.

Canada excluded. Services performed by independently owned and operated franchises.

See Full Details