WHAT IS 'Eviction'

Eviction describes the process by which a landlord may legally remove a tenant from their rental property. Eviction may occur when rent has not been paid, when the terms of the rental agreement have been breached or in certain other situations as allowable by law.

In the United States, state law governs the eviction process. Some municipalities, particularly larger cities may also have their own process for eviction.  Generally, a landlord notifies tenants that they are being evicted through an eviction notice. This notice will often specify the number of days that tenants have to correct the problem that has led to the threat of eviction. For example, the tenant may have three days to pay rent in full before they must vacate the unit. If the tenant does not voluntary comply with the eviction notice, the issue must be resolved in court.


Eviction can only take place if there is legally defined just cause. However, the definition of just cause varies by state and municipality. In many places, the tenant does not need to violate the terms of the lease to be evicted.

For example, a municipality may specify that if the landlord plans to substantially renovate a rental property or to live in it themselves, they may issue a notice of eviction to their the tenant. However, after completing the renovations or occupying the home for a period of time, the landlord may then choose to rent the property again. Landlords have been known to do this in areas where rental rates are on the rise. Through eviction, they’re able to bring in new tenants at significantly higher rents than the previous tenants paid.

Effects of Eviction

In 2017, most poor families in America who rented their homes spent over half of their monthly income on housing. At least 25 percent spent more than 70 percent of their income on rent and utilities. Personal finance experts recommend spending no more than roughly 30 percent of monthly income on housing. Spending more than this on housing costs can put a person with limited income at greater risk of eviction due to failure to pay rent.

When a person submits a rental application for a new home, the application will likely ask if they have ever been evicted before. Whether or not they answer truthfully, the landlord still may be able to discover a previous eviction. Evictions that end in court settlements show up in credit reports. Also, some landlords report their tenants to companies that provide reports and screenings of potential tenants.

Having a previous eviction may not completely disqualify a person from a lease. Some landlords may simply want to know more about the terms of the eviction. For example, if the landlord decided to sell an apartment as a condo and legally evicted the tenants to do so, that would be unlikely to negatively affect a landlord’s view of a potential tenant.

Eviction rates have risen sharply in the U.S. in recent years, prompting cries of an epidemic. In response to this, many tenants’ rights organizations have sprung up in the country’s major metropolitan areas.

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