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Eviction to Recover Possession of Property


    When you rent your home you must follow the terms outlined in your lease. If you violate the terms of your lease, your landlord may choose to evict you. Generally, your landlord may evict you for any of the following reasons:

    • Your lease ended

    • Your landlord thinks you violated a lease term

    • You have a month-to-month lease and your landlord wants you to move out

    If your landlord evicts you for any these reasons, it is called a termination of tenancy. Unless you leave on your own, your landlord must go to court to legally evict you.

    Eviction At the End of Your Lease

    When your lease ends, you need to renew it with your landlord or move out. If you don’t do one of these things within one rental period (usually one month), your landlord can file a summons and complaint to evict you. With this type of eviction, your landlord might not have to give you a Notice to Quit. If you have questions about whether your landlord is required to give you notice, you may want to speak with a lawyer. Use the Guide to Legal Help to find lawyers and legal services in your area.

    If one full rental period passes after your lease ends, and you do not renew your lease, and your landlord accepts the next month’s rent, your lease may change to a month-to-month tenancy. A month-to-month tenancy requires a 30-day Notice to Quit before your landlord can evict you in court. 

    Ending a Month-to-Month Tenancy

    A month-to-month lease automatically renews at the beginning of each month when you pay the rent and your landlord accepts it. Verbal rental agreements (leases that are not in writing) are considered month-to-month tenancies. So are leases that have expired but you continue to live in your home and pay your rent and your landlord accepts it.

    Either you or your landlord can end the month-to-month lease with 30-days’ notice. If your landlord wants you to move, you should be given a 30-day Notice to Quit for termination of tenancy. If you want to move, give your landlord a written 30-day notice. Always keep a copy of your notice for your records.

    Eviction Before Your Lease Ends

    Violation of Your Written Lease

    Violating a written lease can lead to eviction. The lease must clearly state if violating only a specific provision or any provision is a reason for termination.

    Review your lease. If it says violating a section of your lease will lead to eviction, your landlord can start an eviction if you do something against the lease. Look for language like, “breach of this lease allows the landlord to evict the tenant.”

    For example, some landlords don't allow pets in their rental homes. If your lease says you can’t have any pets and you get a dog, your landlord might be able to evict you. Look at your lease to see if it specifically says violating that part of the lease means you may be evicted.

    Illegal Drug Activity in Your Home

    You can be evicted for illegal drug activity in your home if your lease has a clause that says you will be evicted for it. First, your landlord must file a police report alleging that you or someone under your control has unlawfully manufactured, delivered, or possessed illegal drugs on the premises. Then your landlord may begin eviction proceedings after giving you a Demand for Possession with a 24 hour notice to move out.

    Eviction from Subsidized Housing

    If you live in subsidized housing, you can only be evicted if your landlord proves there is “good cause” to evict you. To learn more about evictions from subsidized housing, see the Eviction from Subsidized Housing toolkit.

    Eviction from a Mobile Home Park

    If you live in a mobile home, your landlord (the park owner) must have “just cause” to terminate your tenancy. The end of the lease is not just cause. A court may find just cause in each each of the following situations:

    • You violated a lease provision or park rule concerning the health, safety, and welfare of the park, its employees, or other tenants;

    • You failed to maintain the physical condition of your mobile home;

    • You failed to pay your rent or other charges on time on three or more occasions during any 12 month period;

    • You used your mobile home for some other reason than a place to live, such as a business; 

    • You caused “substantial annoyance” to other tenants or the park, after you were given notice of the violation and a chance to stop or fix the problem.

    To learn more about being evicted from a mobile home park, see the I'm Being Evicted From a Mobile Home Park toolkit.

    Eviction from a foreclosure

    If you’re renting a home and your landlord is being foreclosed on, whomever buys the property must either honor the lease or give you a Notice to Quit with 90 days’ notice. To learn more, read Tenants in Foreclosed Properties.

    Notice to Quit

    In most cases, your landlord must give you a Notice to Quit before starting a court case. The amount of time between the notice and when your landlord can start an eviction case varies depending on the reason for the eviction.

    Once you get a Notice to Quit, you have a certain amount of time to move out or fix what you did wrong. If you don’t move out or correct what you did wrong, your landlord can go to court to evict you.

    Here are the amounts of time between giving you the Notice to Quit and filing a complaint to start the eviction in court:

    Reason for Termination of Tenancy

    Time before landlord can sue after serving Notice to Quit or Demand for Possession

    Tenant doesn’t have a written lease

    One rental period (usually 30 days)

    Tenant has a month-to-month lease

    One rental period (usually 30 days)

    Tenant has violated a lease provision

    30 days

    Tenant has stayed after lease ended

    30 days, if it’s been more than 30 days since the lease ended.

    Illegal drug activity

    24 hours

    Just cause for mobile home or subsidized housing eviction

    30 days

    Look at your Notice to Quit to see why your landlord wants to evict you. The Notice to Quit will also give you a deadline that says when your landlord wants you to move out or fix what you did wrong.

    Defending Against Termination of Tenancy

    It’s possible you have a defense or a counterclaim that could stop the eviction from happening. For example, if you think your landlord is trying to punish you for something you had a right to do, like contacting a housing inspector, you might be able to argue the defense of retaliatory eviction.

    To learn more about defenses and counterclaims, read Common Defenses and Counterclaims in Eviction Cases.