Most renters think it’s easy to evict someone for non-payment; landlords know otherwise. The process takes time and money and few property owners are eager to turn someone out onto the street. Yet, if you wait too long, the judge may be less sympathetic to your cause. When is the right time to begin eviction proceedings:

  • When you’ve exhausted all other options of collecting your tenant’s back rent. This is rather obvious, but it’s much easier to collect the rent yourself than to turn the matter over to the court system.
  • When your tenant is at least 60 days behind in the rent. Eviction proceedings should be a last resort. If the tenant has a prior record of on-time payments and has expressed the desire to catch up with the rent, avoid the fees and hassle of the court system.
  • If your tenant has broken his lease in some way other than non-payment, such as destroying property or housing a pet or person not allowed in the lease.
  • You have proof that your tenant is engaging in illegal drug or other activity. Don’t wait on this one; turning a blind eye to such activity can get your property seized in many states.

Each state’s laws differ somewhat, but eviction procedure generally involve the landlord filing a “pay or quit” order against the tenant. The tenant usually has 28 to 30 days to pay or respond to the court. At the end of that time, the landlord must return to the court and answer any response from the tenant. If the eviction motion is granted, the tenant has 3-10 days to vacate the unit. A bailiff will enforce the order, if necessary.