Step 1: Write a letter to your tenant giving them the appropriate notice to pay the rent or face Eviction. The timeline is typically between 3 to 5 days if the Tenant is not paying rent. This letter is called Notice to pay rent or quit. Send the letter by Certified Mail so that you can prove it was sent later in Court. Don’t forget to give the Tenant the chance to pay up and stay, otherwise, you will have to draft a whole new letter. Typically, the 3 or 5 day notice will only be useful if you have a non-paying Tenant. If you are Evicting the Tenant for some other reason you may need to give them up to 60 days notice depending on the State.
Step 2: You will need to go to your State’s Judiciary Website or Library. Look for forms that are up to date and are titled similar to the following: Petition for Summary Possession or Complaint for Eviction. You may also need to include an Order or Writ of Possession form. Get these forms filled out and ready to file with the Court before you send your letter in the step above. If the Tenant does not pay (cure the default) within the time you allotted to them by law, go ahead and drive down to Court, approach the information desk or window and ask for the proper window to file your Complaint for Eviction or Summary Possession and Writ. Don’t be shy to tell the Clerk that you are “Pro Se” (without lawyer) and if you have filed all the documents you need. They may or may not help you. Many Judicial Websites also have self-help guidelines for landlords and tenants.
Step 3: Take the copy of the file stamped (stamped copy returned to you by the Court Clerk) Complaint or Petition for Eviction or Summary Possession and have that served on the Tenant. You can look in the phone book for a “Sheriff” or “Process Servers” and they can serve your Tenant with the paperwork and notice to attend court for as little as $25.00
Step 4: Show up on the Court Date. At the Court date the Judge will typically ask the Tenant if they agree or disagree with the Eviction. If they agree or don’t show up a judgment will be entered against them. You may need to file additional forms such as: Motion for Default Judgment, Entry of Judgment or Judgment if the Tenant does not show up and you want to try for your money owed. If your Tenant disagrees with the rent owed or possession issues many Courts will send you both to Mediation right on the spot, while others will set another date for trial in order to determine if you have the right to possession and to rent in arrears.