Home » Landlord Tenant Law » Eviction Law » I don’t like my tenant. Can I evict her?

The answer is both yes and no. If the lease has expired or if the tenant has violated the terms of the lease, and the tenant is still on the premises, you can bring an eviction action against her – in some states, this is called summary process. Generally, it takes anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months, depending on the circumstances and the state.

Landlords seeking eviction, however, are advised to consult an attorney, because even the smallest mistakes can lead to delays and refilings which can drag an eviction process on for months, often wherein the tenant doesn’t even pay rent. For instance, in one case I dealt with many years ago, I successfully kept a tenant in her apartment – without a lease – for several months because the landlord refused to consult a lawyer, and I was successful in getting the case thrown out on technical grounds several times, including for something as small as a typo in the tenant’s name.

There are several steps one must take to evict a tenant, starting with a written notice to quit, which should be delivered via registered mail well in advance of the eviction date (the amount of notice depends on the state). If the tenant refuses to vacate, it is at that point that you bring an eviction action – through the courts.

Can you simply kick out your tenant, or make the tenant’s life miserable, by turning off her electricity, taking down doors, or moving her property out on the law? No. Absolutely not. This is called a self-help eviction and is illegal in nearly every state. If you attempt a self-help eviction, the tenant can not only sue you for damages (and can receive up to three times the amount of damages), but in some states, can even criminally prosecute you. Self-help evictions are strongly, strongly discouraged.

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