Eviction processes in plain English


Legal actions can sometimes be difficult to understand because of their technical words and definitions. The best thing to do when facing the prospect of an eviction process is to contact a responsible and experienced lawyer to help with the case. However, it is good to understand what is going on and what the next steps will be. Attorneys tell clients how to act and what to expect from the other party.

Basic terms defined

The parties involved in an eviction process are usually two: the landlord and the tenant. Both should have a legal counselor or lawyer during the process.

“Landlord” refers to the owner of the property that was rented. Sometimes it is not the owner but an administrative representative of the facilities. The landlord could also hire another type of legal professional to represent him.

“Tenant” refers to the person, institution or group of people who signed a contract to use the property of the landlord.

Rent is the fixed amount of money that was agreed to be paid for the use of the property. Rent can be due on a monthly or weekly basis. These terms have to be already established in the contract or lease that was signed by both parties.

The lease agreement is sometimes also referred to as a contract. The lease has to be carefully prepared, reviewed and signed by both parties (landlord and tenant) before the tenant starts using the space.

What type of rental property, residential or commercial?

Some legal actions are different if the property is used to live in or for commercial purposes. Dates, procedures, and requirements can vary from one case to another. It is also important to review the local law for both types of facilities. Each state may have a different set of rules for express eviction processes.

How to proceed with an eviction

One of the main recommendations for landlords is not to do things on your own. Eviction processes are important legal actions that can bring about many negative consequences if not handled correctly or if done on a self-help basis.

In long-term lease situations, the tenant has to be at fault to proceed with an eviction. “At fault” usually means that the tenant did not pay the rent that was due. It could also be a violation of the terms of the lease agreement.

In the beginning, it is common to ask the tenant to cure the breach or fix the situation. That is, to pay the rent that is due or to solve the issue that was causing trouble. This step is very common as a first move. The tenant receives a notice to pay or quit. A period of time is given to pay what is due, and if this is not done, the eviction process may start.

The landlord has to make sure that they have served the tenant the notices properly. For instance, to serve a California Eviction Notice, the first option is to deliver it personally, with a witness if possible. If the tenant is not home, the notice can be sent by certified mail and posted in a conspicuous place. It is important to ask for confirmation of delivery. Remember to check with a lawyer what methods are required by the local jurisdiction. If you hire a lawyer to do an eviction, they will handle serving of notices.

After the tenant receives the notice, they have to act accordingly. If it an express notice to vacate the premises in three days, then local authorities are going to ask for the evidence of such request. Not paying rent has to be proved, with bank statements, signed papers or any other written communication that shows how the tenant has failed to pay.

Final recommendations

The main piece of advice has already been explained. Do not evict a tenant yourself. Let the local and corresponding authorities do their job and handle the situation. Evictions can be somewhat emotional or hard, and the best thing to do is to ask for the help of a professional. Judges, police officers and lawyers are the ones that usually work with these types of situations. They know, therefore, how to properly act.