As a renter, you’re expected by abide by your landlord’s rules and regulations. If you don't, your belongings may end up unceremoniously dumped on the curb. What can we say? Some things in life are black and white; your lease is undoubtedly one of them.
To eliminate any confusion, we spoke with rental experts and compiled a list of the things that are sure to get you kicked out of your rental. Commit any of these malfeasances and your landlord is pretty much guaranteed to evict you.
1. Failure to pay rent
Let’s just get the most obvious reason out of the way. If you don’t pay your rent, the landlord is under no obligation to let you live in the unit for free.
“Every state has different laws on an eviction timeline that a property manager must follow,” says Seth Stephens of Renters Warehouse in Seattle. This is why you need to know your state’s laws, and you also need to know and understand your lease.
Stephens says each state has landlord-tenant laws posted online, and most states have a tenant-landlord handbook.
2. Criminal activity
As a general rule, doing anything that could get you arrested could also get you evicted. Having drugs or drug paraphernalia inside your unit is certainly grounds for eviction (in some states, your lease can be terminated with 24 hours' notice for drug-related activity), as is engaging in prostitution.
Your lease should have a statement regarding criminal activity and the consequences for engaging in this type of behavior.
3. Defying the HOA
It's the HOA's way or the highway! If you’re renting a home in an area with a homeowners association, you’re subject to the same rules and regulations as the homeowner. In fact, Stephens says the HOA can actually reserve the right to approve you as the tenant and review the lease agreement.
“If a tenant is causing problems within an HOA community, the HOA will begin by working with the homeowner to improve the resident's conduct,” Stephens says.
If the situation doesn’t get better, he says the homeowner will be fined; in extreme cases—depending on the state—the HOA can force an eviction. However, Stephens says it usually doesn’t come to this because the homeowner typically works to get the delinquent tenant out.
4. Failing to report damage
We all know trashing your rental can get you evicted. But you can also get the boot for failing to report damage to your landlord.
Whether the damage is your fault or not is irrelevant, says Shawn Breyer, owner of Atlanta-based Breyer Home Buyers. “Our lease states that they must report any damages to the property so that the landlord can make repairs."
Breyer once had a particularly negligent tenant who poured so much grease down the drains that the water backed up into the house and the basement. Despite the mess, the tenant never told him it was happening.
“We did a quarterly inspection on the property to find standing water in the associated rooms," Breyer says.
The plumbers reported removing eight (yes, eight!) 5-gallon buckets of grease from the piping.
“We had to have the flooring, the subflooring, the baseboards, drywall, and three floor joists replaced, and spent over $15,000 on the repairs for this incident,” Breyer says.
As you may have guessed, the tenant was promptly served a notice to vacate.
Let this cautionary tale be an extreme example of why speaking up about damages is important.
5. Being on a month-to-month lease
As a renter, sometimes you'll find yourself in an unlucky situation. If you're on a month-to-month lease and your building is purchased by new owners, there's a chance you'll be asked to leave. The owners may decide to renovate the units in the building to increase the property's value.
“We knew that the tenants did not meet our standard tenant screening criteria and we would be doing a renovation on the property,” Breyer says about one of his properties. “We decided to keep them on the month-to-month agreement and gave them a 30-day notice to vacate when we were ready to begin renovations.”