Eviction laws vary from state to state and can even be different within a state. Nevertheless, there are several general guidelines that apply to eviction that are helpful in knowing with respect to the process.
# 1 – Written Notice is Required in Order to Evict
Typically, to begin the eviction process, a landlord must send an eviction notice or letter to the tenant. Known as a Notice to Quit or Notice to Vacate, the eviction letter is a written warning that gives the tenant 30 to 90 days to either pay the rent that is due or correct the violation of the rental contract.
#2 – The Eviction Letter – Necessary Information
The eviction letter, or Notice to Vacate, must contain certain information in order to be considered legally valid. Therefore, the document must include the reason for the eviction; the referenced paragraph in the rental agreement noting the reason; the amount of the rent, late fees and any ancillary charges (in the case of non-payment); and the deadline for mending the broken terms of the lease.
#3 – Claims for Wrongful Eviction Should be Filed Immediately
In most states, the tenant has a small amount of time in which to act if he feels he’s been wrongfully evicted. The statute of limitations for such claims is one year or less, so you must act quickly if you feel you’ve been wronged in this regard. Claims for wrongful eviction can be filed if eviction resulted from any of the following—for instance, the landlord has turned off the utilities or changed the locks of a unit in response to the late payment of rent; ignored repairs that affected the tenant’s health and well-being; disregarded requests to repair the property to make it more livable; entered the rental property without the tenant’s consent, or evicted a tenant in retaliation against complaints made by the tenant about the property’s condition.
To substantiate a Wrongful Eviction Claim, a tenant should document all correspondence between himself and his landlord as well as record dates and conversations that are pertinent to the claim.
#4 – Legal Grounds for Eviction
The landlord always has legal grounds to evict a tenant for non-payment of rent. In order to facilitate the process, the landlord must present the tenant, as stated, with an eviction letter and give a specific deadline for payment. If the tenant attempts to make payment after the stated deadline, the landlord has a right to refuse the remittance and evict the tenant. Also, other lease violations are grounds for eviction, such as keeping a pet in an apartment where pets aren’t allowed.
Again, the landlord must notify the tenant in writing that he has a certain length of time to correct the problem in order to avoid eviction. Landlords can also evict tenants for conducting illegal activities within or on the premises of their property.
Eviction laws, as indicated, follow the mandates of state law and therefore can differ from one jurisdiction to another. Therefore, it’s important to read your rental agreement and review the laws in your particular state.