Evicting any tenant can be difficult. However, it is not an impossible task. Housing codes and both federal and state laws dictate what is and is not legal grounds for evicting a tenant. Eviction of a Section 8 tenant can be especially complicated, but like evicting any tenant, it is not impossible. In most cases, situations which result in evicting a tenant and the accompanying court action can be avoided through careful and diligent tenant screening.
Schedule 2 of the Housing Act of 1988, in particular, outlines the requirements for evicting such tenants. Ground 8 is, perhaps, the most common reason for evicting a section 8 tenant. Ground 8 covers situations in which a tenant has not paid rent for in accordance with their rental agreement for an extended period of time. If a tenant continuously fails to pay rent at the time specified in the rental agreement, Ground 11 can be used to remove the tenant. In situations other than failing to pay the rent as stated in the rental agreement, Ground 12 can often be used to justify the removal of the tenant from the property. Ground 12 covers a number of situations, such as a breach of the rental agreement and mistreatment of the property.
Once grounds for eviction have been established, the landlord must draft the eviction notice. A copy of this notice must be provided to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the local housing authority which services the area in which the property is located. In the notice, it is important to clearly state under what grounds the action is being initiated. It is highly recommended to include an exact excerpt from Schedule 2 of the Housing Act of 1988 in the language of the notice. Also, it is critical that the tenant be allowed a fair amount of time to rectify the situation and that this amount of time be clearly stated in the notice. The landlord should also establish in the notice how and when follow-up inspections of the property will occur in order to ensure that the situation has, in fact, been rectified satisfactorily. Once the notice is drafted and finalized, deliver it to the tenant via certified mail or a bonded delivery service.
Following notification of the landlord’s intent to evict the tenant, the landlord must file an Unlawful Detainer Action with the local court system. This process differs slightly from state to state. The local housing authority will be able to clearly explain the process and necessary action required based on the area in which the property is located. Once the action if filed with the local court system, the process will continue as dictated by the court. If the tenant fails to take any corrective action within the specified amount of time and fails to appear, as ordered, in court proceedings, the landlord may remove the tenant’s personal property and change the locks to all doors. Again, it is highly recommended that landlords contact their local housing authority in order to confirm the procedures for removal of the tenant’s personal property. Throughout this process, it is of upmost importance that the landlord keep certified copies of all documents, including the confirmation of any documents sent to the tenant via certified mail. It is highly recommended that landlords attempt to avoid the complexities of evicting their tenants by ensuring that they establish clear guidelines and procedures for tenant screening.