- For Attorneys
If the tenant is gone for 30 days without paying rent and without notifying you, you may consider the property abandoned. In addition, if you have a written lease, it could require the tenant to tell you if the tenant is going to be gone more than seven days.
When the tenant abandons the dwelling and leaves personal property behind, you have certain rights to dispose of the property. However, you also have certain duties; so it would be a good idea to consult a lawyer before destroying or selling the property.
You may not take a tenant's personal property just because the tenant owes you money, unless the tenant signs a document under the Uniform Commercial Code and you record that documents, or unless the tenant gave you the property to hold as collateral.
You cannot discontinue "essential services" to your tenant. First, what is an "essential service"? "Essential services" means utility service (such as heat and electricity) and anything else that you promised to provide--if it materially affects the tenant's health and safety.
You may not evict a tenant or interrupt essential services just because you are having a dispute with the tenant. You must get a court order before you can forcibly evict a tenant.
If you evict a tenant or cut off services without a court order, the tenant may sue you for damages--and you might have to pay the tenant's lawyer.; If the tenant violates the lease, you may send the tenant notice of the problem and give the tenant 30 days to correct the problem. If the tenant does not correct the problem, you may sue for possession at the time set in the notice. However, if you know about the problem and accept rent from the tenant without complaining, you cannot later evict the tenant for violating the lease for that reason--at least until you tell the tenant that the tenant must start following the rules again. You should give the tenant this notice in writing.
If the tenant corrects the problem, but it happens again within six months, you may cancel the lease after 14 days' notice.
Unless you have a written lease that says otherwise, you cannot evict a tenant for non-payment of rent unless you give the tenant written notice that the tenant failed to pay the rent.
If the tenant cancels the lease before it is over, the tenant will owe the balance due under the lease. However, you must try to rent the property to someone else to offset your damages.
If you are renting on a month-to-month basis, you may cancel the lease by giving the tenant 30 days' notice. The 30 days begins to run after the rent is due for the next month after the tenant receives the notice. For instance, suppose that rent is due on the first of the month, and you give the tenant notice to leave on March 10. The next rent payment is due on April 1, so the 30 days' notice begins to run on April 1 and the tenant does not have to leave until May 1.
If you are renting on a week-to-week basis, you may cancel the lease by giving the tenant ten days' notice.
If the tenant does not leave at the time required, you may sue for possession of the property and for damages and your attorney fees. You only have to give a tenant three days' notice to leave if the tenant (or the tenant's guests) commit an act that is violent or dangerous to others; but even in this situation, you may not evict the tenant by force without a court order and may not cut off essential services to force the tenant to leave.
You may sue to evict a tenant in General Sessions Court. If you do not have a lawyer, the court clerk can give you information about the procedure. If you lose, you have ten days to appeal; likewise, if the tenant loses, the tenant has ten days to appeal the eviction after the judge issues the order.