It’s every landlord’s deepest, darkest fear. Discovering that instead of a lovely family with a dog, their new tenant is the leader of a biker gang with a basement moonshine business!

There’s no doubt that you want to get those types of delinquent tenants out as quickly as possible, but it may not be as simple as you think. Tenant screening can help, as can these steps for removing problem tenants from your property.

Research Rental Law

Every landlord should know the basic rules of rental laws in their area, and ideally, you want to know these long before you enter into any agreement. If you do find that you’re a little hazy on the regulations in your area, or you think they may have changed since you last had to remove a tenant, speak to a lawyer or visit your local government rental website.

Look for Serious Breaches in Contract

In many areas, if tenants have committed a serious breach of contract (including, for instance, committing a crime on the property), then you may be able to evict a problem tenant in a much shorter timeframe than you would otherwise. Minor infringements may still be grounds for eviction, but probably won’t justify immediate eviction.

Serving Eviction Notices

Whether it’s for non-payment of rent, another breach of contract or any other valid legal reason, you still need to serve written notice of eviction on a tenant. Your area may have slightly different rules about what this must say and how you must serve it, but generally, it must state the reason for the eviction, and the period that they have to vacate the premises, and it must usually be served to an adult resident.

Court Orders

Even if you follow all the right steps to evict a tenant, there’s still no guarantee that they will vacate the premises as requested in your eviction notice. You will get into a lot of trouble if you try to remove them by force, so in the case of stubborn tenants who refuse to leave, you may be forced to approach a lawyer or the court system to get a court order compelling them to leave. Once that is in place, you can usually enlist law enforcement agencies to assist in removing the problem tenants.

This should be a last resort only, because it can be a costly and time consuming protest, and it’s always better to avoid this if possible.

Consider Tenant Pre-Screening

Many landlords never have trouble with their tenants. Some go years or decades before they run into a problem renter.

However, while you may be one of the lucky ones, its far more likely that at some point, you will face the problem of a delinquent renter, and you will need to go through the frustration, expense and time wasting of getting them out of your property.

Instead of putting yourself and your property investments at risk like this, it’s a good idea to consider tenant pre-screening, so you can get the whole picture before you sign the lease. After all, in this case, prevention is definitely better than cure!

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