What are the Reasons to Evict a Tenant?

What are the valid legal reasons for a landlord evict a tenant? For the answer, scroll down for our plain English guide to just cause eviction.

1. The Tenant is Unable or Unwilling to Pay Rent

Non-payment of rent is by far most common reason for evicting a tenant. Depending on your local landlord tenant laws, residential tenants have a grace period of 3 to 14 days - Meaning that their rent has to be overdue for at least 3 to 14 days before you have a just cause for eviction.

You will send your tenant a pay or quit notice by registered mail or in person. This notice will give him or her a final deadline to pay up before you proceed with the eviction process.

If the rent is overdue for just a few days (and your tenant's overall record has been excellent), then you can choose to send your tenant a late rent letter instead - This letter will chase your tenant for rent payment (plus any late fees).

2. The Tenant Breaks the Lease Terms or Law

If your tenant breaks the terms and conditions of the lease agreement, then you can legally evict him or her. These are the common lease agreement breaches by tenants:

  • Lying or providing false information to the landlord during the tenant application process.

  • Not willing to repair or pay for property damages caused by their abuse or neglect

  • Subletting or assigning the lease to someone else without the landlord's consent when the lease agreement expressly prohibits the tenant from doing so.

  • Having unlisted occupants and illegal squatters staying on the rental property. Note that squatters are not the same as guests (which tenants are allowed to have)

  • Causing disturbance and being a nuisance to co-tenants or neighbors

  • Keeping pets on the rental property when you have no pet policy. Exception under the Federal Fair Housing Act: Disabled tenants are allowed to keep pets that assist in their day to day living (e.g. seeing dogs for the blind).

3. The Landlord Wants to Repossess the Property

Not all reasons to be evict a tenant have to be based on violations. If a landlord intends to reclaim his or her rental property for personal living, he or she can also initiate a "good faith eviction".

A good faith eviction will require the tenant to move out of the rental property to make way for the following people: the landlord, the landlord's immediate family (spouse, children, grandchildren, parents and grandparents) and their caregivers.

For it to qualify as a just cause eviction, the landlord has to give the tenant a written notice of termination 20 to 60 days in advance depending on your local landlord tenant laws.

NEXT: How to Evict a Tenant - Step by Step Guide