Eviction of a non-paying tenant is the legal process of removing a tenant from a rented property. Timely rent payments are a part of the agreement between tenant and landlord, so failure to comply with such is a valid cause for tenant eviction.
Eviction laws slightly vary from one state to another but generally follow a similar procedure. It starts with serving a Pay Rent or Quit notice to the tenant, instructing him to deliver any unpaid balance on rent that has been due or vacate the premises within a prescribe period. Tenants are usually given 3 to 5 days to settle depending on the local laws where the property is located. If your renter is on subsidized housing such as Section 8 rentals, you must coordinate with that particular agency so they may be informed.
In most cases, a tenant will settle or signify his intention to move out. If he does neither within the indicated period, your next step is to file an action for eviction before the local court. The court will fix a date to hear the case, and summons will be served for both parties to appear. If your tenant settles informally prior to the court date, you must move to officially dismiss the court action. It is also important to note that receiving any partial payment from the tenant during an eviction process will usually nullify your case.
If a landlord fails to show up on the appointed court date, the case will immediately be dismissed. If the tenant does not appear, the court will issue a judgement in favor of the landlord after which the latter can initiate steps to have the tenant legally removed from the property. If the tenant appears to defend his case, this can give rise to a lengthy process. Your tenant may raise defenses such as no rent is owed because he spent on repairs for the property or that non payment was due to rent increase without proper notice from the landlord. So be sure you are not liable for any of these or everything might just work against your favor.
So how long will it take to evict a non-paying tenant? Well it really depends. As long as you do not have any other issues with your tenant apart from unpaid rent, the process can take as little as 20 days. As soon as the court passes a judgement in your favor, local law enforcement will send one final notice to the tenant before proceeding with a lockout. A lockout happens when law enforcement officers have to physically remove a tenant and his possessions from your property.
It is recommended that you engage the services of a lawyer to handle an eviction. Filings and servings must be done in a manner defined by the law, and an attorney can make the process fast and smooth for you.