How do I evict a commercial problem tenant?

Eviction can help relieve a commercial property of a problematic tenant, but a landlord cannot evict a tenant for any reason he chooses. Each state has specific laws that address when a landlord may evict a tenant and exactly how an eviction should proceed. Following the proper procedure can remove a troublesome tenant in just a few weeks, but failing to do so could bog down an eviction for a prolonged period due to a costly legal battle.

Determine the reason for the eviction. A property owner can evict a tenant if there is nonpayment of rent or some violation of the lease. However, in cases of noncompliance to the terms in the lease, the tenant generally receives advance notice of the problem and is given a period of time to address it and stay on site. This rule varies by state.

Give tenant written notice that he has broken one or more terms of the lease, according to the laws of your state. Wait the specified period time, and re-evaluate the situation to determine whether the tenant has paid rent and applicable late fees, or fixed whatever violation occurred before the predetermined time limit.

Provide formal notice of eviction if the tenant fails to pay owed rent or fix a violation within the legal time limit. The formal notice can be immediately given if there was cause of unconditional eviction, which is usually reserved for major violations like criminal activity or repeat nonpayment of rent. In those situations, the tenant does not have an opportunity to correct the problem and can be told to leave immediately.

File an eviction action with a local court if the tenant has refused to move. The action must be filed in a way consistent with state eviction laws. The tenant will then be given the opportunity to respond to the property owner's claim.

If the tenant responds to the claim, a court proceeding will be set. At the hearing, evidence will be provided by both sides.

Deliver the court order siding with the property owner to the local sheriff, who will post it on the tenant's door, informing them that they must move out by a certain date or their property will be forcibly removed.

Tip

Be sure to first consult your state's eviction laws to determine the specifics of how to handle an eviction process in your area. Consider hiring an attorney to help see you through the eviction process. He can ensure you are taking the appropriate steps in the proper order, and can serve as your advocate if a court case ensues.

Warning

Generally speaking, a property owner is not permitted to change the locks on a property or turn off utilities until the tenant has been formally evicted.

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About the Author

Pete Campbell has written professionally since 2006. He has covered culture, sports, literature, business and politics. He has been published in a wide range of publications, including the "Wall Street Journal." He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Notre Dame.

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