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How does the eviction process work?

Answer

Each state has differing laws on specific policies, but the general process is the same in every jurisdiction.

1. First Warning

If the lease has been violated, some landlords may talk to the tenant informally to work out a resolution before starting the legal eviction process. Not all landlords do this, but the legal process may be skipped altogether if an agreement can be made.

2. Formal Notice

The first legal step would be a formal notice sent by the landlord for the tenant to either comply with the lease, or to vacate the property. Depending on the area and situation, the landlord may not be required to have a reason for eviction, and there may be no opportunity to comply with the lease after a certain rule has been broken (such as drug use and destruction of property).

This notice would tell the tenant how long they have to move out or comply before the case is brought to court. The tenant cannot be formally evicted until a court hearing, and may stay in the property until there is a judgement on the case. However, the tenant may move out if they prefer to avoid going to court.

It is important to know what is required of landlords to evict in your area. A lawyer can clear up the laws specific to your jurisdiction. Tenants who are looking for free or low-cost legal aid can find resources on USA.gov’s website.

3. Go to court

The landlord would file their eviction with the local courthouse if the tenant has not compiled or moved out by the required date. A hearing would be scheduled to hear both the tenant’s and landlord’s stories. It is recommended for both parties to have documents supporting their case to give them the best chance of the ruling going their way.

If the case is ruled in favor of the landlord, the tenant will be given a date that they must leave the property. This will usually be anywhere between two days, to a week, depending on the area.

4. Leave the property

The offending tenant will be required to move out by the date mandated by the courts. If the tenant remains on the property after this date, the landlord may use local authorities to escort the tenant out.

Depending on the area, the entire eviction process may take anywhere from two weeks to three months.

More FAQs from Low Income Households

  • What does eviction mean?
  • What does a typical eviction notice look like?
  • Can I get evicted for not paying rent?
  • Where can I find help if I got an eviction notice?
  • Will eviction moratoria be extended?