Landlord Evictions: Do it Yourself?

You have a lot to think about if you are planning to evict a tenant. One of the concerns on your mind may be the expenses involved in removing someone from a property. You may be considering that you could save a lot of money if you managed the eviction yourself.

Though it’s possible for a landlord to personally handle an eviction, there are many ways it can go wrong—forcing you to spend extra months upon months trying to get your property back. If you make certain mistakes, you may be forced to abandon the eviction until you have a new cause. Here are several reasons you may not want to evict a tenant yourself…

Evictions Must be Done for Specific Reasons

Tenants in New Jersey are well protected from being evicted without cause. To evict someone, you must have a reason, and that reason must be clarified in the lease or one of the few that is listed in the law. Late payments are not considered immediate cause for eviction, and neither are many other common violations. Depending on the cause for the eviction, you may have to follow entirely different processes for removal.

The law makes it illegal to attempt to evict a tenant in certain situations. For example, you can’t evict a tenant for not paying the rent if they are using the amount to pay bills that were the landlord’s responsibility in the lease (for example, trash or water services). You also can’t evict a tenant who refuses to comply with a rent increase unless that increase was allowed by local laws. It should go without saying that there are also many civil rights restrictions on evicting tenants that you should understand.

Evictions Must be Done in a Specific Order

The eviction process can be a complicated one with many steps that must be followed. Try to skip any of them, and you may find yourself starting the whole process over again. Proper order is particularly important when it comes to the notices that you are required to provide before you can evict someone. To be valid, these notices must be delivered in the right order, with the legally-required amount of prior warning.

Self-Helping an Eviction is Illegal

Managing an eviction yourself may cause you to consider speeding the process along by convincing the tenant to move out before any notice period. Some landlords have attempted to do this by changing the locks on the building or by cutting off utilities. Actions like these are completely illegal in New Jersey law. If you attempt to change the locks on a tenant, they may be able to have you charged with trespassing, or even pursue damages from you.

Don’t try to manage an eviction by yourself. It may be more expensive to hire an attorney to handle these parts for you, but you get what you pay for. Without counsel on each step, you may find yourself restarting the eviction process over again, constantly.

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