When Good Tenants Become Bad – Things You Can’t Do to Force Your Tenants to Vacate

If you are in the rental sphere, sooner or later, you are going to have a tenant who inexplicably stops paying rent. They may give you the run around with stories about why they are not able to pay and promises of an entire payment plus late fees just around the corner. Or, they can even ignore your phone calls and reject to answer the door if you show up in person trying to collect rent. Bottom line is, when it goes to this point, such lessees will need to be served with a three day notice to vacate to start the evictions process. A suffolk evictions lawyer can help you with this.


While you can be frustrated and tempted to take measures into your own hands, it is very important to follow the legal procedure for removing a non-paying tenant from your premises. Specifically, the law expressly disallows you from doing the following:


Removing Locks


In no way is it legal for you to remove the locks, or install new locks on the property to “lock out” your renter. It doesn’t matter if they are months behind on their rent, have totally trashed the house and are in violation of every provision in the lease. They are lawfully protected against a “lock out” and can take you to court to regain entry.


Utility Shut-offs


You may not shut off the water, gas or electricity in an attempt to force your tenants to move out. Again, your renters, however far behind in rent they are, may seek legal recourse against you for this action and may collect hefty fines against you.


Taking Tenant’s Property


You may not harass your renter into moving out. This would include illegally entering the rental unit and taking their property. Only under rather specific circumstances (abandonment) is a landlord enabled to remove a tenant’s property.


Physical Removal


Just the illegible authority (usually the sheriff’s office or their agents) is allowed to remove a tenant after a writ of possession is obtained from the court and the legal waiting time has finished. This means that you can’t hire your own help to physically move out a occupant. Consult a nassau evictions lawyer for more information.


While the above list describes the common things that you, as a landlord, are not allowed to do to get a tenant to move out, it is not all inclusive. Any number of different creative strategies to compel a renter to leave are also illegal.


The one legal way to remove a renter from your property is to go through the legal eviction process. Yes, it costs money and yes it takes time. Remember that you can deduct the unpaid rent for the period that your tenant stays in the property during the eviction process from their security deposit.



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