If my tenant has not paid their security deposit in full and has not paid their last months rent, can I evict them without filing a dispossess action?

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If my tenant has not paid their security deposit in full and has not paid their last months rent, can I evict them without filing a dispossess action?

Asked on October 5, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Georgia

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

No, you most definitely cannot. You can be sued for wrongful eviction if you do and have to pay fines/penalties/court costs. As tempting as it might be, do not use any self help measures, including removing a tenant's belongings, changing the locks, or shutting off the utilities - at least not without a court order.

What you need to do  is to serve your tenant with a notice to quit for non-payment of rent (the time for this varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction; it typically is about 3 days). If your tenant does not paid up or vacate by the date specified then you can file an "unlawful detainer" action (i.e. an eviction lawsuit). Once a judge issues an order to vacate your tenant must leave or you can have the sheriff remove them.

Again, you need to file all proper legal procedures. At this point, you may want to consult directly with an attorney in your area who handles landlord tenant matters.


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