Eviction Definition

What Is Eviction?

Eviction is the legal process by which a landlord removes a tenant from the rental property before the lease term ends, usually due to failure to pay rent or a violation of the lease agreement.

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How Does the Eviction Process Work?

The laws and guidelines about how and when landlords can evict their tenants vary from state to state. The process usually starts with an eviction or termination notice. The landlord must ensure that there are legal grounds for eviction and must notify the tenant through a written notice. The written notice may include details on how the tenant may correct the violation, comply with the lease, or vacate the property[1].

If the tenant does not pay the rent, fix the damage or violation, or leave the premises by the date the notice expires, the landlord may complete several eviction forms and file an eviction case in court[2]. The tenants will be notified of the eviction case and may be summoned to court. They will also be allowed to answer the complaint and defend themselves.

RELATED: 6 Creative Ways to Get Rid of Bad Tenants


If the landlord wins the case and the court orders an eviction, the tenant will typically be given several days to move out of the rental property. The landlord will have to abide by the rules and avoid any form of harassment or intimidation. It is illegal for the landlord to remove the tenant from the rental property by force, shutting off utilities, or changing locks and locking the tenant out[3].

The landlord may bring the court order to local law enforcement officials who may remove the tenants and their personal belongings if they refuse to leave the property[4].

What Are Valid Reasons for Evicting Tenants?

Here are some of the most common and valid reasons for a landlord to evict a tenant:

Failure to Pay Rent

Landlords may evict tenants who fail to pay rent in full, or who repeatedly make late rent payments[5]. Payment arrangements and the grace period for late fees vary from state to state. In most cases, the landlord will have to send out a notice to pay to remind the tenant of the rent that is due and the deadline for the payment. The notice may also warn the tenant against the risks of facing eviction.

Violations of Rental Agreement

Tenants who violate the terms of the lease agreement may be evicted by their landlords. Examples of these violations include[6]:

  • Defy a no-pet policy.
  • Allowing other people who are not named on the lease agreement to live in the property.
  • Disobeying parking rules.

A landlord will send out a notice for the violation and may give tenants a chance to correct their behavior before filing for eviction.

Illegal Use of and Damage to the Property

Landlords may evict tenants who use the rental property for illegal purposes, such as producing or distributing illegal drugs. They may also evict tenants who break zoning laws and use the rental property to run a business or for any other purpose than what is intended[7].

property damage

Tenants who cause significant damage to the rental property, and refuse to repair it, may face an eviction case[8].

Landlord Moves In or Removes the Property on the Market

If the landlord decides to take the property off the rental market or move into it with their family members, they may also evict tenants. Each state will have its own rules on how the landlord may pursue an eviction process based on these reasons[9].

What Are the Types of Eviction Notices?

Here are the most common kinds of eviction notices that a landlord may send out to tenants[10]:

Notice to Pay or Quit

This notice gives tenants a few days, typically three to seven days in most states, to pay the rent in full or leave the rental property. It may also warn the tenant of an eviction case in court if the tenant refuses to abide by the terms.

Notice to Comply or Quit

This notifies the tenant that he or she has violated a condition of the rental agreement. It describes the violation and sets a time frame for when the tenant should correct the issue. It also outlines the consequences of not complying with the notice.

eviction notice

Unconditional Notice to Quit

This notice gives the tenant a hard deadline to leave the rental property or face a formal eviction case. It is typically given to tenants who significantly damage the rental property, repeatedly fail to pay rent on time or breach the lease agreement, or engage in illegal activities while on the premises.

No-Cause Notice

There are instances when a landlord may ask a tenant to vacate the rental property at any time, even without any specific reason or violation of the tenant. Most states require landlords to serve a 30- or 60-day notice to tenants when they do not have a reason to end the lease agreement.

Notice of Termination

This informs the tenant that the lease will not be renewed and gives them several days to vacate the rental property after the lease ends.


  • Eviction refers to the legal process through which a landlord compels a tenant to leave the rental property.
  • There are several reasons landlords can evict tenants, such as failure to pay on time or violating lease agreements.
  • Each state has its guidelines on how and when landlords can evict their tenants.
  • Landlords will have to abide by state eviction laws and should not resort to any form of harassment or intimidation to force the tenants to leave the property.


  1. Clemon, D. (2021.) Eviction. Investopedia. Retrieved from https://www.investopedia.com/terms/e/eviction.asp
  2. American Family Insurance. (n.d.) The Documents You Need to Evict a Tenant. Retrieved from https://www.amfam.com/resources/articles/your-business/documents-landlords-need-for-eviction
  3. FindLaw. (2020.) Illegal Evictions Can Get You in Trouble for Landlord Harassment. Retrieved from: https://www.findlaw.com/realestate/landlord-tenant-law/illegal-evictions-can-get-you-in-trouble-for-landlord-harassment.html
  4. O’Connell, A. (n.d.) How Evictions Work: Rules for Landlords and Property Managers. Nolo. Retrieved from https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia-landlords-guide-how-to-evict-tenant.html
  5. Justia. (2021.) The Eviction Process for Landlords. Retrieved from https://www.justia.com/real-estate/landlord-tenant/information-for-landlords/late-rent-payments-termination-and-eviction/
  6. LegalNature. (n.d.) What Constitutes a Lease Violation? Retrieved from https://www.legalnature.com/guides/what-constitutes-a-lease-violation
  7. Eberlin, E. (2019.) Reasons You Can Evict a Tenant. The Balance Small Business. Retrieved from https://www.thebalancesmb.com/reasons-to-evict-tenant-2125254
  8. Aparments.com. (2019.) Legal Reasons to Evict a Tenant. Retrieved from https://www.apartments.com/rental-manager/resources/article/legal-reasons-to-evict-a-tenant
  9. Renters Warehouse. (2017.) 7 Perfectly Valid Reasons to Evict Tenants. Retrieved from https://www.renterswarehouse.com/education/7-perfectly-valid-reasons-evict-tenants
  10. LawDistrict. (n.d.) The Eviction Process in 5 Steps. Retrieved from https://www.lawdistrict.com/articles/eviction-process-in-5-steps

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