Written by Sally Norton for Vogue Real Estate Australia

Unless you are an experienced landlord, evicting tenants might seem like an extreme measure. But, unfortunately, most landlords will have to deal with evictions at least once in their life. So, if you plan on becoming a landlord in the near future and you don’t want to hire property management service, you need to know which are legitimate causes for evicting tenants.

What are legitimate causes for evicting tenants

To fully understand legitimate causes for evicting tenants, we are first going to cover them and then explain how to tackle them properly. Know that just because you have a disagreement with your tenant doesn’t mean that you can ban them from your property. Evicting a tenant is a legal procedure, and you need to tackle it with the necessary care.

A landlord pointing and shouting angrily.
Unfortunately, it is usually not enough to simply tell you tenants to leave, even if you have legitimate causes for evicting tenants.

Rent payment issues

The most common reason for evicting a tenant is because they are not paying rent. The concept of this is pretty straightforward, you don’t pay, you can’t stay. But, there are certain intricacies that you should be aware of. Namely, there is a difference between not paying rent, and being late with rent. In order to differentiate properly between the two, you need to study your lease and ensure that you are adequately covered. Keep in mind that most courts won’t help you out solely for unpaid late fees, which is why you need to carefully outline when late fees become rent issues.

Lease violations

While we are on the subject of a lease, it is important to note that this piece of paper is your strongest line of defense when it comes to protecting yourself from bad tenants. You may think that you know how to judge people and that this will help you avoid bad ones. But, trust us when we tell you that sooner or later a bad tenant is going to fly under the radar. And the best way to evict them is to find an instance where they are violating your lease. Among the more common lease violations are:

  • Having a pet, without prior authorization from the landlord.
  • Housing people for a prolonged amount of time. If your tenants want their friend or paramour to move in, you need to draft another lease for them to sign.
  • Subletting of your apartment to other people. Unfortunately, some tenants want to be crafty and use other people’s apartments as a way to make money.
  • Improper use of the apartment (for commercial or for storage use). This is why you need to outline that your lease is residential if you want your real estate to be solely used for living.
  • Complaints from the neighbors. Most buildings and neighborhoods have commonsense codes that your tenants need to adhere to. If they throw parties at 3 a.m. you can expect to first get complaints, and maybe even fines.

The more items you can add to your list, the better case you will have in court if an issue occurs with your tenant. So, do yourself a favor and hire a competent lawyer to help you out.

A lawyer helping a person make a contract in order for them to have legally legitimate causes for evicting tenants.
Hiring a lawyer to help you draw a decent contract is well worth the money spent.

Sizable property damage

It should be pretty obvious that property damage is a sufficient cause for eviction. But, it is important to keep in mind that most property damage doesn’t occur due to tenants intentionally causing havoc. Tenants are simply careless. Therefore, they might avoid or outright ignore a minor issue regarding your real estate. Unfortunately, most minor issues become quite substantial if left untreated, which is why sizable property damage is surprisingly common. To help battle this, you should inspect your property at least once a month. If there is any damage, you can either ask your tenant to fix it (or do it yourself).

Illegal activity

If you suspect that your tenant is practicing illegal activity in your apartment, you can and should evict them. Illegal activity is one of the more legitimate causes for evicting tenants, as you can get tangled up in something that you never even dreamed of. The moment you suspect that your tenant is practicing something illegal, you should start the eviction process.

How to evict tenants

Depending on why you are evicting your tenants, the actual process of eviction can be a bit tricky. Even though you may have legitimate causes for evicting tenants, you cannot simply lock them out. Know that just like they have legal obligations to you via your lease, you have legal obligations to them. Therefore, you should always do your best to make the eviction process as by-the-book as possible, especially when handling unreasonable renters. In most cases you will go through the following steps:

  • Notify your tenant and terminate your lease (30-day notification is usually required).
  • If the tenant doesn’t leave, notify the local eviction court.
  • Attend the hearing regarding the eviction.
  • Get court permission to evict your tenant.
  • Get in contact with the local authorities.
  • Show up on the eviction day with the representative of your local P.D. and reclaim your real estate.
  • Change the locks.
A scale and a hammer as symbols of court.
You need to be able to convince the court that evicting your tenant is a must.

Final tip

While at times it may seem like a good idea to take matters into your own hands, we strongly advise you to refrain from doing so. Tenants can be quite difficult to deal with, especially when it comes to evictions. Therefore, you really want to avoid getting a couple of friends together and forcing your tenant out. Know that they can sue you afterward and put you in much more trouble than you otherwise would be. Our advice is to always follow the necessary legal procedure when handling any issue as a landlord. This is, by far, the best method of evicting tenants, especially if you want to avoid headaches in the long run. 

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