When can I evict a tenant for nonpayment (in any state)?

evict a tenant for nonpayment

Let’s talk about how to evict a tenant for nonpayment.  There are few things more frustrating to a landlord than when tenants stop paying rent. Maybe your tenant they lost their job. Perhaps they’re blowing their money on drugs. It could be they had to pay an expensive medical bill.  

Regardless of the reason, they’re not paying rent anymore, and they show no signs of leaving. So, just how long do you have to wait before you can evict a tenant for nonpayment?  

Understanding the laws of your state

When it comes to evicting a tenant for nonpayment of rent, or for any other reason, the first thing you need to do is understand what your state’s eviction laws are.  

There may be different legal processes depending on the type of eviction. Here’s a great resource that spells out, state-by-state, how much time you need to give your tenant (if any) to be late on rent before you can begin the eviction proceedings.

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Depending on the state, you’re looking at anywhere from one day to two weeks before you can legally file an eviction for nonpayment of rent.  In some states, there are two “waiting periods” you have to patiently endure before you can file an eviction.

First, there’s the waiting period before you can send your tenant a notice to pay or quit (pay or move out).  In other words, the tenant has to be so many days delinquent on their rent before you can mail them the notice to pay or quit.  By the way, I highly recommend you send this notice by certified mail, so you have some kind of proof you did indeed send it.

After that, you have to wait so many days from the time you send the notice before you can file an eviction.  This is to allow the tenant time to respond to the notice and pay past due rent. Once that period of time is over, then you can legally file your eviction.  

Again, this all depends on state law, and some states don’t have any waiting periods whatsoever; if the tenant is late even one day, you can legally file an eviction.  That doesn’t mean your eviction will be granted by the court, but you can legally file it.

Understanding the eviction process

Once you file an eviction, it could take a few more weeks to several months to actually get your tenant out.  Check out my post on evicting tenants for a more detailed explanation of what the full eviction process might look like.  

Also, check out my post on wage garnishment.  Usually you can garnish for the full judgement amount which includes rent owed plus attorney fees & court costs.  Here’s a link to help you find a wage garnishment attorney in your city.

Conclusion

Evictions are frustrating for everyone, and no one really wins.  Your tenants are left homeless, and you, as a landlord, lose financially.  If you rent property long enough, you’ll eventually be dealing with evictions.  The best way to keep evictions to a minimum is to screen your tenants well.

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