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Tenants, Evictions, and Unlawful Detainer, Oh My!

Decatur Eviction Notice On DoorA more intricate aspect of owning Decatur rental properties is understanding the concept of unlawful detainer. An unlawful detainer, by definition, refers to a tenant who still would live in a rental property even after having no legal right to do so. When an unlawful detainer case has happened, rental property owners can use it as a legal basis to start the eviction process. However, it is important to note that evicting a tenant based on unlawful detainer requires a court case and, sometimes, 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. While it is not the only legal basis for eviction, unlawful detainer does give the landlords the means to sue for a tenant’s removal. Evicting a tenant is always a sensitive situation, and there are particular rules and regulations in every state that must be diligently followed. A landlord cannot simply ask a tenant to leave, for any reason, once he or she has possession of the property. This covers violating the lease, not paying rent, or even if you cancel the lease. Before bringing your case to the appropriate local courts, it’s essential to thoroughly document the situation and properly comprehend your legal basis for eviction.

There are a couple of cases in which unlawful detainer can be applied to. Keep on reading to understand more about the three most common ones.

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

If a tenant does not move out even after the lease has expired, this is when you can use unlawful detainer to evict the tenant. Within legal bounds, you are not able to pressure a tenant to move out once their lease ends. If you change the locks, call the sheriff, or do any other attempts that are illegal, you could be sued by your tenant instead. Suppose you have a tenant who refuses to move out. In that case, you should document the scenario and file a petition with the local court. You must also make certain to provide your tenants with the court documents. From there, you will need to follow the eviction process supplied by the court system to get a judge’s ruling before moving forward with the rest of the eviction process.

Example 2: The tenant stops paying rent.

Another frequent cause to apply unlawful detainer to evict a tenant is when they stop paying their rent. A tenant who does not pay rent is a common instance and has several main causes. Some tenants may be waiting for their paychecks or they 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. If ever that time does come, be certain to accurately follow any grace period set out in your lease and give your tenant one more opportunity to pay. If you don’t do 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 so many reasons why a landlord would terminate a lease. Some reasons could be a tenant violating one or more terms, or there could be other reasons. If your tenant refuses to leave and you must terminate the lease, you can resort to using the legal basis of unlawful detainer to petition the court to order them to move out. More importantly, follow the legal process step by step and make sure to document everything. As always, a situation of unlawful detainer is not a reason 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. This writ, in most states, is delivered to your tenant by local law enforcement and not directly by you. 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 easily become a serious struggle. However, it is a common aspect of owning rental properties. If you need assistance with a tenant who is in violating their lease or is refusing to leave, why not give Real Property Management Citywide a call? Our professionals can provide you with guidance so you can carry out the eviction process carefully and legally and get your property back as fast as possible. To speak with a Decatur property manager, contact us online or call at 770-733-1848 today!

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