Do Not Take the Law into Your Own Hands When Evicting Tenants
Those scenes in movies where a homeowner kicks someone, usually an unfaithful spouse, out of the house, are entertainment gold. Who can forget the scene in Larry Crowne where Julia Roberts’ character leaves all her husband’s possessions on the front lawn? In real life, it is inadvisable at best to kick someone out of a place where they live without warning; if you are a landlord and they are a tenant, it is just plain illegal. If a tenant has violated the terms of their lease or has stopped paying rent, it is important to stay on the right side of the law at every step of the process. The best way to do that is to discuss your case with an Alabama eviction lawyer before you take the first steps to evict the tenant from your property.
Eviction Dos and Don’ts
These are some things you should do if you need to evict tenants, including both legal requirements and advice to help you avoid a prolonged legal battle.
- Keep careful written records of when the tenant pays and how much they pay. Keep a copy of the lease agreement and document all the ways the tenant violated the agreement. Promptly alert tenants, in writing, to any violations. Whenever possible, communicate with tenants by email instead of by phone, so that you will have a record of exactly what you said and when you said it.
- Be polite and respectful in all interactions with the tenant, whether in person, on the phone, or by email.
- Notify the tenants in writing of your intent to evict. If the eviction is for nonpayment of rent or for violating the rental agreement, they have seven days to pay the outstanding rent or to correct the violation.
- If they do not make the necessary remedies, deliver them an unconditional quit notice, giving them seven days to leave the property.
- If they do not leave by the date specified on the unconditional quit notice, have the sheriff’s department remove them from the property.
The above is the right way to evict a tenant. The following are things you should not do during the eviction process. They can only count against you in a lawsuit related to the eviction, and in some cases, you could face criminal charges.
- Do not try to push the tenant out by making the property unlivable, such as by turning off the utilities or changing the locks without the tenant’s knowledge.
- Do not be belligerent or threatening in your interactions with the tenant at any stage of the process.
- Do not remove the tenant’s belongings from the property by yourself or otherwise attempt to evict the tenant personally. Leave that part to the sheriff’s office.
Let Us Help You Today
You have the right to evict tenants who do not pay and do not follow the rules, but do not be pushy or impatient. Contact the Alabama eviction attorneys at Cloud Willis & Ellis for a consultation about your eviction case.