How do I evict someone?

This may be a silly question, but I have never had to do it before and my lawyer seems to busy to return my call.

MY tenants moved in Dec. 1st and needed more time to come up with the deposit. They wanted to know if they could pay by the end of January when they got a tax return and I agreed and put in writing in the lease that it was ok for the 875.00 sd plus a 300.00 pet deposite to be paid by Feb 1st. (yes, I know that was not smart, but I’m learning!) Anyway, on Feb first they paid the 875.00, but asked if they could pay the 300.00 over the next 3 months with 100.00 extra on the rent for those months. again I agreed. On March 1st they did not pay the extra 100.00 and when I reminded them they said “oh we will have it to you on the 23rd” . I’m all done giving breaks. They did not even ask if that was ok this time… just told me when they would have it. I’m all done being nice. They are also renting a non-smoking unit and are smoking like chimneys!. Can I evect them based on the lack of pet deposit being a breach of contract?
Do I just send them a notice that they are in violation of the lease and give them 30 days, or do I just go to the courthouse and fill out an eviction form? Or is the form only if they don’t actually leave within the 30 days?
Again, sorry if it sounds like a dumb question. It just has never come up for me before.
Thanks for any advice.

You accepted the rent, so you can’t evict them. Accepting their money is the same as saying, “Okay”. The thing you can do is send them a notice saying that they’re in violation of the lease and they have X number of days to rectify the situation. (depends on the law in your state) If they haven’t corrected the issue by the deadline date, then you can do an eviction.

What about the smoking issue?? They also are in dispute over a parking issue with the tennants upstairs. Can I say they must pay the full 300.00 deposit by x date or they are in violation? Does that mean that if they don’t pay the deposite in full by april 1st that I should not accept the rent for next month??

another question… why is it saying “ok” if I accepted the rent? This is not a dispute over rent its over a pet deposite. What if they broke the lease agreements in other ways, but paid rent on time… is rent the only factor in determining if they are violating a lease agreement or not?

As a rule, if you don’t get the deposit before the tenant moves in, you’re not going to get it. In this case, you are VERY LUCKY that you are only out the pet deposit. YOU are at fault, not the tenant. The tenant is acting like a tenant, but you are not acting like a responsible landlord.

Worse yet, is that YOU have lost control of your rental. The tenant is now in charge and he knows that. Since you haven’t enforced the lease, the tenant can reasonably expect that he shouldn’t have to obey ANY of the lease - AND HE’S RIGHT! How is the tenant supposed to know which provisions of the lease that you really want him to follow?

You are making another mistake by not KNOWING EXACTLY what the law is in your state. It is not wise to wait until there is a crisis before you learn the law.

This is a self-inflicted wound that will not be easy to correct.

To answer your question directly, rent is not the only factor in determining whether a lease is being violated or not? However, the free legal aid lawyer will tear you apart in the courtroom because you are not enforcing the entire lease. She will say "you weren’t serious about the deposit so why should my client have thought you were serious about the smoking issue or the parking issue. It just won’t fly in court.

Good Luck,


I let two different sets of people in that gave me the “I’ll give you the deposit when I get paid” lie. I didn’t receive it either time and ended up evicting both sets of people for none pmt of rent.

I just filled a unit of mine. The person said “Can I give you the deposit when I get my tax return”, I said “No”. She immediately followed up with the response, “that’s ok my mom said she would give me the money and I’ll pay her back with the return”. Some how when I went to get the rent to let her in the property she had the deposit and two months rent. We aren’t banks that tenants can borrow money from.

You accepted payment, which means that you’ve accepted the terms under which it was offered. For a lease violation (other than something illegal) you have to give them notice and time to correct the situation. When it comes time to evict them, you cannot accept the rent from them. As long as you keep accepting the rent, you’re saying it’s okay for them to stay.

If they signed a lease that stated there is no smoking and they are, you can evict them. I would give them whatever notice that you’re required to that you’re coming and take pictures or otherwise document it. It only takes one breach of contract to open you up to be able to evict. Don’t let them talk you down anymore, though.

Depending on the laws in your state, you may be able to accept the rent money and write a receipt that says “use and occupancy only”. That way you can continue your eviction.

The problem with trying to do an eviction for the violation of the lease term is that they can just cure the problem and then they’re back in the unit.

Did you run a credit check? If they have good credit, you could always tell them that you’re going to begin eviction proceedings and that they would be responsible for your legal fees such as providing notice and the court filing fees. Then they’ll have a court judgement against them that will show up in their credit report for the next 7-10 years. That might get them to pay up the $300.

It is nearly IMPOSSIBLE to evict someone for smoking in your rental. As BobbiOh said, you must give them notice and allow them to correct the problem. After you’ve paid the court costs and lawyer fees and finally make it to court, what do you think the tenant is going to say? The will say that they aren’t smoking in the rental. Of course, they are committing purgery. Would they really commit a felony just to smoke in your rental? YES! It happens every day. If I had a dollar for every time a tenant lied in court…

You’ve already messed up with this tenant. The key here is to learn from your mistakes and don’t repeat them in the future. You should also do whatever it takes to learn the landlording business before you make more mistakes. Joining your REIA, searching the archives of this forum, reading books and attending conferences are all ways of accomplishing that. It is absolutely foolish to learn these lessons the hard (and expensive) way.


This is great information being provided…especially the one where you let slide one requirement on the lease, then the others requirements are subjective and could be interpreted…let me say, I’m a newbie…I helped my mom with her rental when she owned it…

sounds like the issue is the $200 balance from the pet deposit and the smoking…which doesn’t sound like a horror story compared to others I’ve read…if this is the case, and since your posting is just a day or two ago and you haven’t started any eviction process, it might be penny wise to not renew the lease when it expires, provide them the legal notice (30 days, 60 days,?) and have then leave the end of November(8 months) when their lease expires…

if they don’t leave in November and you don’t accept the rent after that time, I’m believe your eviction process would be much cleaner…and it gives you some time(8 months) to build funds if this occurs…and since tenants lie, you could mention that you have an elderly aunt(a family member) that needs a place to live and you plan to have her live there… :slight_smile:

does this makes any sense…or am I’m making things worst…Thanks…

I would like to directly respond to propertymanager… we are not all the experts here! some of us got into this for different reasons and in different ways. I am trying my best to do things the right way. That is the reason I stumbled onto this site and have since spent so much time reading as many current and old posts as possible. I have learned so much. I do not appreciate the tone you use with so many who have questions. This should be a place to come and learn and share not feel put down because we don’t already know everything. Please consider this for you future interaction with people who are here because we want to learn and better ourselves. I appreciate the knowledge you have shared and hope to learn more from you in the future. I just don’t want to be treated with disrespect because I don’t already have all the answers. Thank you. I’ll step off my soap box now.

I guess the issue with the pet deposite is not my real concern with these people. I believe they will pay it. I was just hoping to use that as a loop hole to get rid of them. Its going to cost me too much to clean up a smoky house when they leave. I was hoping to find a way to get them out now before they continue to damage my house. I do not like to spend my time and money painting with that killz paint stuff just to cover smoke stains and smell. I know I can’t get rid of them because of that. They could be standing in a cloud of smoke and look me right in the face and say “we don’t smoke here”. I did fianlly reach my lawyer who said it wouldnt be worth the time and expense of court cost over the pet deposite because they would just pay it and I wouldn’t be any closer to getting rid of them.
Have any of you had this happen iin the past? What have you done.

Also, do any of you have any suggestions for a parking/garage rental agreement? I never thought it would be an issue. each tenant was told where their parking/garage space was and they were fine with that. Now the jerk downstairs decided his daughter is getting her licence and he wants a space for her and just flat out told the upstairs tentants that she would now be parking in their space. He will not move the car. He has nothing in writing that gives him permission to use ANY space. Just my verbal ok for 2 spaces and was told the 3rd was for upstairs. Any advice on this???

In Mike’s defense, he spends significant amounts of time posting on this site in an attempt to help others…sometimes he comes off as a little gruff – you should take it as “tough love”…if it touches a nerve, it’s probably because he’s nearly 100% right. He knows that everyone doesn’t know everything. Take it with a grain of salt - but his answers are most always on the money and meant as a help to you.


Thanks Keith,
I realize he knows most of the answers and that is why I did mention that I appreciate him sharing and hope to learn more from him and all of you on this site. I’m just don’t want to feel like I will be made to look like an idiot for asking questions. I have a ton of questions I would like answers to. An idiot is someone who THINKS they know it all and doesn’t seek to better themself. I know that I am pretty clueless with most lanlording issues. I want to learn as much as possible and get this right. I’m leaning so much as I go. But sometimes the knowledge I have learned has come to late and I need to kknow how to work with the problem I have. I do not want to be in a situation anymore where the tenant is calling the shots. If I can learn from this mistake, then next time I will hopefully get it right the first time.

These kinds of mistakes are great learning tools. I never before thought that a parking place would become an issue. now I do. I have also learned from another recent post to get all deposits in the form of cashier check or money order before handing over keys ect… being walked on once or twice is what is teaching me to be firm with everyone. Not giving them a break on rent/deposites/other rules does not make me a mean or uncaring person… just a fair landlord. I did not get that before and now I do. So I continue to welcome your advice.

SAMH Investor,

I am not trying to insult you. In addition, I am not making you look like an idiot. You are the one that described your situation and your actions are what caused your problems. The point that I was trying to make is that YOU caused this entire situation because you don’t know what you are doing. That is the blunt truth. If that truth offends you, then may I politely suggest that you are not suited to being a landlord and may want to get out now. My answer is nothing like the problems you WILL face with future tenants.

The truth is that the vast majority of new landlords fail. You are on the fast track to joining them. The idea seems to be prevalent among newbies that everything must be learned the hard way. My point is that you should not be learning these lessons in that manner and should become educated BEFORE you are forced out of business with a big loss. What you have done is NOT working and you need to correct it ASAP. If you are going to wait for each possible problem to occur before you become educated on it, you will not make it. Many of the things that can happen with tenants are VERY expensive and are non-recoverable errors. Do whatever it takes to become educated before it is too late.

Good Luck,


fair enough. Could you please point me in the right direction for the education I need? Everytime I have had a question and asked any official I have been referred to the Tenants/Landlord rights handbook for our state. It does not answer the majority of things that have come up. How am I to learn about situations that have not come up yet? I really do want to know. We paid good money to have a lawyer look over our lease and updated it with all the suggestions… but I’m still in this situation. I end up letting the tenants walk all over me because I’m not sure what my full rights are when these issues come up and I’m tired of it. I want to be in control and have the knowledge and confidence to do it. I deal with all this so my kids will have a better future. I don’t want to just give it up and get out of the buisness I need to find a way to make my buisness a sucess. Again that’s why I’m here. If any of you are willing to take the time to point me in the right direction I would very much appreciate it.

You have not answered (that I have seen) the question if they signed a lease stating that they would not smoke. I am not sure why people here think that smoking is a small issue. An apartment that has smokers in it is susceptible to fire more than one that is not. Any fireman can tell you how many fires are started by smokers. It can have a bearing on insurance as well. Not to mention that it permeates everything it touches. A verbal agreement does not trump a written one, so if you have allowed them to smoke yet it is in the written lease, it bears no weight.

As far as the neighbor downstairs goes, tow his car. Each time he parks in their space, have the car towed. If he has not been given a space in the lease, he can not park there. Have the lease amended if possible to outline the parking spaces. Give the people that are suposed to park there permission to call the tow truck. If this jerk is the same as the one that is smoking, start eviction proceedings. As I said before, give notice, go over there with the fire department or the police and get a report showing that they are smoking in the unit.

They do what they do because you have passively given them permission to do so. You need to be like a shark, silent but deadly. Don’t go over there and have a confrontation. Simply give written notice (or whatever the lease states) that you are coming over and call the proper authorities to witness the smoking and keep the peace. Take a camera and take pics. IT IS YOUR PROPERTY, NOT THEIRS. You need to see that you will not roll over and take it. Don’t threaten to evict, just do it. If they call you, simply tell them to contact your attorney. Once they see that you will show up with the cops, they should straighten up. I would get rid of the people that are causing you problems, to be honest.

Speaking of him, find a new one. He doesn’t know what he is doing. You are paying him to work for you…

Without peeking in the windows how do you go about getting pics of them smoking?

As I said before, give notice, go over there with the fire department or the police and get a report showing that they are smoking in the unit.
This is a civil matter not a criminal matter, no where in the state statutes in any state that I know of is there a law against smoking.

As to the parking issue you’ve told the tenants when they moved in where their spots are so they should know where they are. To reinforce what you told them spray paint the unit numbers on the ground for each spot. Send all tenants in a building telling them the parking is reserved for each unit and to park appropriately or they will be towed. If the guy still persists have his car towed immediately. When he gets his car back from the tow place with all of the fees and whatnot he’ll think twice about it.

Smoking isn’t against the law. If you called the police or fire department here…they’d laugh you off the phone and tell you to learn how to handle your business.

…but it should be! Hopefully, the day is coming!