If I want to evict a tenant that never paid any rent, how much time do I have to give them to move?

UPDATED: Dec 5, 2011

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If I want to evict a tenant that never paid any rent, how much time do I have to give them to move?

He moved 4 months ago and after I realized things weren’t working out. He said he would move out by the end of last month but he’s still there.

Asked on December 5, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Connecticut


L.P., Member, Pennsylvania and New Jersey Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Thank you for submitting your question regarding the process to evict a tenant for non-payment of rent.  Even though a tenant has not paid rent, no matter how much money is owed to you, a landlord cannot resort to self-help.  The courts do not a landlord to institute self-help.  This means that a landlord cannot take it upon him/herself to change the locks of the apartment, cannot turn the utilities off, and cannot empty the apartment of the tenant’s belongings.  In order to get rid of a tenant that is not paying rent, the landlord needs to start the eviction process. 

Keep in mind that all states have their own set of guidelines governing the landlord tenant code.  While some legal actions can be in the court system for years, eviction proceedings occur much faster.  If you want a lawful eviction, you need to make sure you follow all the necessary steps as set forth in your state’s landlord tenant code.  If you make any errors along the way, the court will likely dismiss your eviction, and you will need to start the eviction proceedings all over from the beginning. 

The first step in the eviction process is to end the landlord tenant relationship.  This means that the landlord needs to send the tenant an eviction notice.  Since you are evicting for non-payment of rent, you need to include how much money is past due for rent, and then list a few days in which all the monies must be paid in full or move out by that time.  In most states, if the tenant is able to pay the past due amount, then the landlord cannot continue with the eviction proceedings at that time.  If the tenant does not pay at the end of the given time frame, then you can file an eviction action at your local courthouse.  If the tenant does not answer the complaint, then the judge will enter a default judgment in favor of the landlord.  If the tenant raises a defense, then the court will set a court date for a hearing.  At the hearing the judge will resolve this eviction issue.


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