How Do You Evict Someone Who Doesn't Pay Rent?

A landlord can evict a tenant by filing a suit called an unlawful or wrongful detainer in court, says the Law Library. The action or inaction of a landlord, such as refusing to provide heat, may constitute what is called a constructive eviction.

The first step in an eviction is terminating the tenancy by issuing adequate written notice, advises Nolo. Each state has its own laws outlining the procedures regarding how termination notices and eviction papers must be written and delivered. When a tenant fails to pay rent, a "pay rent or quit" notice is issued, which usually gives the tenant three-to-five days to pay the rent or move out. An eviction lawsuit is the next step if the tenant still fails to pay. If the landlord wins the suit, he must give the court judgment to a local law enforcement office, along with a fee. The law enforcement office then provides notice to the tenant that an officer will be back within a few days to escort the tenant off the property.

A tenant may avoid eviction for nonpayment of rent by paying all past due rent along with any legal costs incurred by the landlord, notes the Law Library. If the tenant cannot pay, eviction can still be avoided by demonstrating to the court the rent is not due because the landlord failed to maintain the habitability of the property, such as neglecting to make needed repairs.