Can You Evict A Tenant During COVID-19?

COVID-19 has left many tenants unable to pay rent. That may be understandable, but landlords also can't afford to pay their bills if their tenants aren't paying. If your tenant isn't paying, are you able to evict?

Do You Have a Commercial or Residential Tenant?

The first question is whether your lease is for a business space or someone's home. The rules for a commercial lease are almost entirely up to the lease. If a business isn't paying rent, you can usually quickly evict them without much hassle.

Residential tenants often have legal protections beyond their leases. You may only be allowed to evict for certain reasons, and the process can take months or even years in tenant-friendly locations.

How Long Has Your Tenant Not Paid Rent?

You may need to allow a certain amount of time before evicting a tenant for not paying rent. In some places, you can evict if they are one day late if that's what your lease allows. Other locations may not allow an eviction until a tenant is multiple months behind, even if your lease says you can evict faster.

It's important to remember that your lease must follow the law to be valid. You can be less restrictive than the law, but not more. That's why you should always have a real estate lawyer both help you prepare your lease and to review your legal duties if you're involved in an eviction or other legal dispute.

Are There Eviction Bans in Place?

Before evicting a tenant during COVID-19, you need to check for temporary eviction bans in your area. Many areas have frozen evictions to avoid tenants losing their homes during the pandemic, even if they aren't paying. Both state and local governments can impose their own bans that you may have to follow. If your property receives federal funding or uses a federally backed mortgage, you may also need to follow federal rules. If you can't evict, you will still be able to sue for missed rent at a later date.

Can You Find Another Tenant?

The last thing to think about is more of a business question. Will you be able to replace the tenant if you evict? Some landlords may choose to work with a tenant with an otherwise good history of paying on time if they believe the situation is temporary and they won't be able to find another paying tenant right away.

To learn more about how the eviction process works and what you need to do, contact a local real estate law firm today.