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Eviction Explained for Landlords

The Landlord Protection Agency would like to thank Sherrie Bennett and for supplying the informative article below.


by Sherrie Bennett

A landlord may evict a tenant if the tenant:

  • Fails to pay rent
  • Breaches” (breaks) the lease
  • Commits what’s called “waste” (damages the place), or
  • Has given the landlord any other "good cause" to evict

Laws on eviction proceedings vary widely by state and are sometimes called “summary dispossess” or “unlawful detainer” lawsuits.

Eviction laws are very detailed and must be followed exactly for the landlord to successfully evict.

Most states have special restrictions on eviction that apply only to residential leases. These restrictions must be met very precisely before the landlord is permitted to evict a tenant.

Usually, the landlord must give the tenant what’s called a “notice to quit” before starting an eviction proceeding.

If the rent remains unpaid (or other problems aren’t solved), and the tenant remains after the expiration of the period provided in the notice to quit, the landlord may file a lawsuit. The landlord normally cannot remove you at the expiration of the notice period.

A lawsuit begins when the tenant is served with legal papers- usually a summons and complaint.

A hearing is usually held within a very short time (sometimes as soon as 14 days after the summons and complaint are served).

At the eviction hearing, the tenant may present any appropriate defenses, such as:

  • A mistake in the accounting of the rent
  • The right to deduct rent because of the condition of the premises.
  • In some states, that the tenant has “cured” a monetary default by paying the landlord all his damages because of the tenant’s failure to pay rent.

The tenant may also provide any evidence that the landlord wants to evict the tenant in retaliation for some action of the tenant, such as:

  • Asking for repairs
  • Complaining regarding housing discrimination
  • Organizing other tenants against the landlord
  • Reporting housing code violations or asking for code inspections

If the court rules in favor of the landlord, the tenant is usually given a short period of time to move out before the landlord can begin proceedings to forcibly eject the tenant.

If the tenant doesn’t voluntarily leave after the eviction lawsuit, the landlord can ask law enforcement officers to assist the landlord in completing the eviction process.

The law enforcement officer will typically give the tenant official notice that police will be arriving at a certain time on a certain date to physically remove the tenant and his or her possessions from the premises.

The landlord normally must not engage in any acts of self-help, such as changing the locks, removing the tenant's belongings, turning off utilities or attempting to forcibly remove the tenant. Self-help is flatly outlawed, and in most states is a crime.

Read more articles by Sherrie Bennett at

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