Legal Q&A: What’s the first step in evicting a tenant who isn’t paying rent?


Question: I have a tenant who caused a fire in an apartment which resulted in a substantial amount of damage. The fire department concluded the tenant was at fault. Can he be liable for my deductible? And, can I take it out of his deposit?

Ted Kimball Kimball, Tirey & St. John LLP

Ted Kimball
Kimball, Tirey & St. John LLP

Answer: Yes, in fact he is responsible for all losses suffered (your insurance company may want to pursue him).

Question: I have renters who recently informed me that they are moving. The lease does not end for another six months. Now what happens?

Answer: The tenants are liable for the rent up to the date the lease expires or the date the premises are relet, whichever occurs first. You are under an obligation to attempt to relet the premises, in order to hold the former tenants liable.

Question: What is the first step to take if I want to evict a renter for non-payment of rent?

Answer: You should serve a Three-day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit for the rent. If they fail to comply, you can start an unlawful detainer action, but make sure not to accept rent after the action is commenced.

Kimball, Tirey & St. John LLP is a full service real estate law firm representing residential and commercial property owners and managers. This article is for general information purposes only. Laws may have changed since this article was published. Before acting, be sure to receive legal advice from our office. If you have questions, please contact your local KTS office. For contact information, please visit our website: For past Legal Alerts, Questions & Answers, and Legal Articles, please consult the resource library section of our website.

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