Rental housing can be a win-win for both renters and landlords when all goes well. But sometimes job loss, life experiences like divorce, lease violations or other unfortunate situations arise. In such cases it can reach a point where a landlord must make the difficult choice to evict. In fact, as reported by CNBC last year, an estimated 35 million people could face eviction because of the shutdown. This means countless landlords find themselves in this untenable circumstance and are seeking information on what steps they need to take.
What is Eviction?
The civil procedure through which a landlord can lawfully expel a tenant from their rented property is known as eviction. Whenever a tenant defaults or doesn’t pay rent, the rental agreement’s provisions are violated, or other legal grounds exist, the renter may be evicted.
The law may vary from state to state, but overall, it tends to favor the rights of tenants. Landlords must provide notice to renters that they are being evicted, detailing the basis for the eviction as well as the number of days until eviction procedures commence.
How Eviction Works
Landlord-tenant rules apply to rental property, and any parties engaged in lease arrangements. Landlords are not allowed to expel tenants without justification. Nonpayment of rent, damages, unlawful behavior, breaching the conditions of a lease, or if the landlord desires to take control of the property are all reasons for eviction.
According to research conducted by Princeton University’s Eviction Lab, the most prevalent reason for eviction is the nonpayment of rent. Some states enable landlords to expel tenants at will, even if they have committed no wrongdoing. In jurisdictions that allow no-fault evictions, these tenants may be safeguarded, particularly if the conduct is deemed racist or vindictive by the courts.
Although eviction rules differ by state and jurisdiction, the procedure is generally in line. An eviction notice is sent to a renter, giving them a certain number of days to pay rent or repair any damages. If the tenant does not resolve the situation within that time frame, the landlord may launch an eviction case against them. In addition to the eviction, a complaint may seek financial restitution for unpaid rent and utility bills, property damage, late fees, and court expenses.
This is the basic process of eviction; however, let’s talk a little more in detail about eviction processes and the case during the COVID
Eviction Moratoriums due to COVID-19
Most renters who were having trouble paying their rent were permitted to stay in their current housing, owing to a recent statement by the CDC that rendered evictions for nonpayment unlawful. It prevented approximately 40 million people from losing their homes. This was fairly bad news for the landlords.
The requirement to obtain this benefit was that the tenant had to sign a disclosure statement stating that they satisfied certain criteria. For example, if they earned less than $99,000 in 2020.
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which temporarily barred evictions. Evictions of persons receiving federal housing aid or living in homes with government-backed mortgages, were prohibited for 120 days.
The previous restriction barred landlords from bringing new eviction proceedings based on unpaid rent. According to an estimate by the Urban Institute, the moratorium affected about 28% of the country’s 43.8 million renter families.
Now that the moratorium has lifted, many landlords are and will begin filing eviction notices. So, where do you start? Let’s look at the steps to give you an idea of what happens during the process.
Notice to Vacate:
Before landlords may begin formal eviction procedures, the tenant must be given sufficient written Notice. A “notice to vacate” is a formal notice from the landlord asking the tenant to leave because the tenant has breached the lease.
The landlord can provide the Notice to the tenant in the following ways:
● Oral or in-person notice to anyone in the household above 16 years old.
● Affix the notice inside the main entry door
● By registered mail
● If there is no mailbox and there are obstacles to the landlord posting notice to the inside of the main door, they may place it on the exterior of the main entrance. It has to be packed in an envelope with the correct markings. On the same day, the landlord must send it.
● If the notice is issued in person or by mail, the period allotted to vacate before the landlord files an eviction lawsuit begins the moment it is received. If it is by mail, the moment it is delivered, it is deemed notified whether the tenant reads it or not.
General Law for Eviction
Eviction procedures do not imply that a tenant will be expelled from their home right away. The eviction procedure is divided into several phases, each of which takes a specific amount of time. The renter can stay in their house until a writ of possession is granted.
● Step 1: Notice to Vacate. Unless otherwise specified in the lease contract, the landlord must allow the tenant at least three days to vacate the premises. They will not be able to file an eviction suit until they have given this notification in writing. If the property is a part of certain federal programs or the owner has a government-subsidized mortgage, the federal CARES Act mandates a 30-day notification.
● Step 2: Filing of Eviction Suit. The eviction trial must be held after ten days of the petition being submitted to the court.
● Step 3: Judgment. For the next five days after a judgment is announced, no further action can be taken. This period allows the parties to file an appeal.
● Step 4 (optional): Appeal. The hearing cannot take place for at least eight days if the tenant files an appeal.
● Step 5: Writ of Possession. After a final decision, the landlord might get a writ of possession from the judge. Before “executing the writ” and expelling the tenant’s property from the rental, the constable must post a 24-hour notice.
The Eviction process can be fairly tough. However, my non-professional advice is that you familiarize yourself with the laws of your state and also visit Landlord-Tenant Court to understand how the proceedings and judge rulings occur.