6 Reasons to Evict a Tenant

No matter how seriously you take tenant screening, you can’t always predict how a tenant will behave.

Even the most qualified tenants on paper can break rules, neglect payments, or damage your property. Any of these circumstances warrant an eviction if they become a habit for your tenant.

You’ll likely experience an eviction at some point in your career as a landlord. Therefore, it’s best to be prepared and know the circumstances in which you may decide to pursue an eviction.

Here are six valid reasons to evict a tenant from your property.

1. Late Payments

Late payments are the most common reason for evictions. However, “late” does not mean the same thing to every landlord.

For instance, maybe you’ve established a grace period and integrated it with the late fee infrastructure on your property management software. This means your tenants have a few extra days to make payments before they are charged a late fee. In this case, is rent still “late” the day it’s due?

Likewise, when is a payment official? When your tenants submit it, or when you receive it? Some payment methods (mail, ACH transfer, etc.) take several days to process. If your tenant submitted the payment before the due date but the bank doesn’t process it until after the deadline, the true payment date might be ambiguous.

Be sure to establish clear rules for when rent is considered late. You’ll rely on these rules when justifying eviction charges.

Some states have additional laws and regulations for late rent and evictions. For instance, in Pennsylvania, landlords must give tenants ten days to settle unpaid rent before pursuing an eviction. Be sure you know which laws apply in your state.

2. Illegal Residents

Illegal residents are another common reason for evictions.

Your lease agreement should define the exact rules and parameters for overnight guests. For example, you might allow overnight guests for up to four consecutive nights or no more than three weeks out of the year.

These guidelines will help you provide concrete reasoning for eviction when a tenant’s guest becomes more of a squatter. Your tenants should also be responsible for any property damage caused by their guests.

3. Illegal Pets

If you don’t allow pets in your properties, evidence of one in a tenant’s unit is reason to investigate. You may have specific reasons for prohibiting pets, including property damage or allergy concerns. If your tenant decides to keep one anyway, this is grounds for eviction.

4. Criminal Activity

Even if you thoroughly review your tenants’ criminal histories, you may still find illegal activity happening in your rental community. If you observe a tenant engaging in criminal activity, evicting the tenant may protect your other residents and your business.

5. Property Damage

Damage to your building, its systems, or your personal property is unacceptable. A tenant who damages your property disrespects you and the lease agreement. You won’t be able to sustain your rentals in the long term if you have to replace furniture or flooring after each new tenant.

If property damage becomes a pattern, an eviction is in order.

6. Subletting Without Permission

Subletting is a great way to keep units filled and prevent long vacancies. It’s especially useful for student housing, where students frequently leave on study abroad trips and roommates move in and out on short notice.

Subletting releases you from the responsibility of finding a new tenant. However, it can become a problem if your tenant does not fill the spot responsibly, or if you don’t allow subletting in your lease and a tenant does so anyway.

In these cases, an eviction might be the swiftest path to solve the issue.


Evictions are an unpleasant situation for both parties. You spend hours of time and hundreds of dollars on tenant screening every year to avoid them. However, sometimes eviction is unavoidable.

Instead of allowing tenants to get away with breaking rules or permitting dangerous behavior in your rentals, remove the tenant before the problem escalates. Whether the reason is one of the six outlined here or another, evictions protect your business and bring you one step closer to the resident community you want.