How to evict a tenant

We rely on our tenants to pay rent on time so we can continue to work towards paying off the houses they live in.  Our goal is to get these houses free and clear by working with great tenant who pay rent on time, leave us alone and take good care of our assets.

The first step of eviction should start on or before the 5th of each month.

For most people rent is due on the very last day or the very first day of the month.  If you have not received a full rent payment by the 5th of the month, it is time to start the eviction process.  Do yourself a favor and do not ask the tenant why they are late on their rent because you will likely hear this:

Excuses tenants make:

1.  My grandmother died – Again?  Really, I think that is the 3rd time your grandmother died!

2.  Things are just tight this month –  This happens in September due to back to school supplies, in December for Christmas, in January for the holidays, in February it changes to “Don’t worry I will catch up with my tax return”

3.  Rent is late due to the huge electric bill I had to pay –  They usually blame this one on weather stripping, bad windows or broken heat/air…  if only they would pay their bill every month it would not become such a GIANT bill to begin with.

4.  “I aint got it and your keepin callin me for it doesnt help anythin”

5.  “My wife just started a new job and doesn’t get paid for two more weeks,” Husbands blame their wife all the time sometimes they say “I know my wife sent it, no idea why you dont have it yet” —  Throwing your wife under the bus is not a Good thing!

What excuses do you hear for not paying rent?  Leave them for me in the comments section below to continue this discussion!


Regardless of the “WHY” they did not pay rent, what do you do?  Do you tell them to make a partial payment, call you when they have the money, do you sympathize with them (hope not)?

I tell our tenants that IF you are going to be LATE on rent, I need to know before the 1st of the month.  Do not call me after the 1st of the month.  Regardless if they call or not, have excuses or not the we mail out the pay or quit notices on the 5th of every month to every tenant who is late.

The pay or quit must clearly state that the tenant is delinquent in his/her rent payment, show the total amount due including late fee’s and the date they became delinquent.  In Virginia we are allowed to simply mail the form to the tenant.  In some states they may require personal delivery, I am not certain of the tenant/landlord laws in all states.  Besides stating the amount owed, the day it was due and late fee’s, the following statement is also made on the pay or quit:

Pay or Quit

“I hereby require and demand possession of the aforesaid premises or the payment of said rent plus late charges within five (5) days after service of this notice, and, continuing in default, I shall proceed by due process of the law to recover possession of said premises.

I certify that I personally mailed this notice on ____________________”

That is how simple it is to send out a pay or quit notice.  The pay or quit is the very first step in the eviction process.  Repeat after me:

“I will send a pay or quit to every tenant who owes rent, every month, regardless of the excuse”

Now, don’t you feel better?  The pay or quit starts the eviction timeline by giving your tenant 3 or 5 days to pay your rent.  IF they miss this deadline and do not pay you in the time allotted, the next step is to go the the courthouse and file the unlawful detainer so you have a date in the courtroom.  Keep in mind that I am not attempting to practice law by giving this advice, but simply stating the process on how it works.  You may want to hire a great attorney to represent you, handle your pay or quit and the entire eviction process.


Remember, if you do not have your rent on-time that you have a responsibility to follow your systems and procedures including starting the eviction process on tenants who are late in paying your rent!

What are your thoughts and experiences?  Share this article, leave some feedback in the comments section….