What can I do as a Landlord if my Tenant Refuses to Pay Rent?
What can I do as a landlord if my tenant refuses to pay rent?
If your tenant refuses to pay rent that is due and you wish to evict him, you must go through the legal process of an “unlawful detainer” lawsuit against the tenant. It is illegal for you to try to physically evict the tenant yourself. The process for an unlawful detainer can involve many complicated procedures that must be diligently followed, but provided below are 5 basic steps that you can take as a landlord to have your tenant legally evicted:
- Provide a notice – Depending on what type of lease agreement existed with the tenant, you must deliver a notice to the tenant to comply with the terms of the notice within the specified time period or face an eviction lawsuit.
- If the tenant fails to comply with the notice, you can then proceed to file a Complaint for an Unlawful Detainer with the court and properly serve the Complaint onto the tenant, who will then be named as the defendant to the lawsuit and will have the opportunity to respond to the Complaint.
- If the tenant/defendant does file an Answer to the Complaint, you can file a request for a trial where you will be able to present evidence to support your claim and potentially obtain a court judgment against the tenant. If the tenant/defendant does not file an Answer to the Complaint within the response period required, you can file a request for a default judgment against the tenant.
- If you were granted either a court or a default judgment, you can then request that a Writ of Possession to be issued by the court, which will grant you legal possession of the premises which the tenant currently occupies.
- Once the Writ of Possession is issued, you must take it to the Sheriff’s Office to process. The Sheriff will then post a “Notice to Vacate” on the premises, which will give the tenant 5 days from that date to move-out or else be physically removed and locked out of the premises.
As stated above, there are many complications that can arise throughout the steps that will delay the eviction process significantly or even force the landlord to start the entire process over. Thus, you are advised to consult with an attorney to reduce the risk of potential problems and further losses.
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