To legally evict a tenant, a landlord must provide written notice, file a lawsuit if the tenant makes no effort to remedy the situation, provide just cause for the eviction and give the court judgment to a sheriff, according to Nolo. Eviction laws differ from state to state.
Legal reasons for evicting tenants include failing to pay the rent, lease violations, property damage and illegal activity, notes Nolo. As long as the tenant isn't on a fixed-term lease, the landlord has the right to evict the tenant as long as he provides the tenant with adequate time to move out. A tenant may have anywhere from 30 to 60 days to vacate the premises.
A lawsuit to evict a tenant is sometimes referred to as an unlawful detainer lawsuit, says Nolo. Just cause is required for the landlord to successfully win this type of lawsuit. The tenant must also be served a complaint and a legal summons in order for the landlord to be in compliance with the law and legally continue the eviction. If the case does go to court, the tenant has a chance to defend himself by pointing out any wrongdoing on the landlord's part. Wrongdoing can include the landlord not making an effort to make the property habitable or evicting the tenant as a means of unjust retaliation.