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Can A Landlord Make A Tenant Move For Any Reason?

Non-payment of rent is just one of many reasons a landlord may want their tenant to move out. Perhaps they want to upgrade the property.   Perhaps they want to sell the property. Or perhaps they just do not like the tenant and the drama they bring to your business. So, if you fall into one of these categories, can you as a landlord make a tenant to move for any reason at all, whatever it might be? It’s a good question, one that you should know the answer to. However, like with all questions related to being a landlord, the answer is not very simple.

In a nutshell, the answer is “it depends”. It depends on two items.

First and foremost it depends on the lease you signed with your tenant. A lease is a contract and usually has a specified time period as one of its clauses. Many times that time period is for one year but it can be anything, such as a day, a week, a month or a decade. If you have a year lease with a tenant, you cannot make that tenant move out before the end of that year unless they are breaking the terms of the lease. Not paying rent is the best example of breaking terms.

But suppose you want to upgrade the property and would prefer the units be vacant, can you make them move out before their lease is up? No, you cannot. You really cannot make the tenant leave if they are fulfilling the terms of the lease before one year is up. But once that year is over, then you can ask them to move, and they have to.

With a shorter tem lease, say one that is a month to month term, landlords of course have a lot more flexibility. The lease basically expires at the end of every month, so a landlord can choose not to renew, effectively forcing their tenant to move.

The second item to answer the question is your state and local laws. Here in Memphis Tennessee you can pretty much just tell the tenant that you are not renewing the lease at the end of its term. You do not have to give any reason. This is effect in the same thing as asking them to move for any reason at all. But not all state and local laws are as generous as those here in Tennessee. Some states are much more restrictive and some cities, such as New York with rent control, can make things really difficult. So you need to know and understand what your rights as a landlord are in your local jurisdiction.

So, can you make your tenant move? Yes, but it will depend on the term of your lease, where you are in that term and what your local laws are. Can you make your tenant move at anytime you want for whatever reason you want? No. Your tenant will have had to break a major clause of your lease before you can force them out. And then it is generally only with a court order.

2 Responses to “Can A Landlord Make A Tenant Move For Any Reason?”
  1. Janne Zack says:

    What about if the tenant breaks some other clause in your contract… I mean, if one of your tenants had a problem with a dripping kitchen faucet and asked you to come fix it, then while you were there you discovered one of these things:

    Your Lease states: No Pets and while there on your service call you discover that they have a new puppy, (or old one for that matter)
    Or, your lease states, “No Smoking in the unit” (and you enter one day for a repair and discover they’ve been smoking 20 packs a day!)
    Or, your lease says that they can’t paint the walls and again, while you are in their unit at their own request, you discover a lot of things that are forbidden in your lease.

    What would you do especially if you are not actually looking for a way to get rid of the tenant, but if you found these violations?

    But in regards to your post, if you are looking for a way to make them move and you discover that they are breaking some of the terms of their lease such as some of the above reasons, what would it take to get them out? Would this be a long drawn out process?

    • Kevin says:


      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.

      I think for the situations you describe, you can either ask your tenant to obey the rules or ask them to move on. Of course, if they chose not to move or remedy the lease violations you will need to evict through the courts. In which case you would have to demonstrate to a judge why you are asking for the lease to be terminated. Sometimes of course, this may be easier said than done and it could be a long and drawn out process depending on the circumstances. Especially if you happen to live in a non-friendly landlord jurisdiction.

      If you find violations such as smoking, a pet or unauthorized painting perhaps you can negotiate with the tenant to pay a pet deposit, a smoker’s cleaning fee or a charge for repainting. The threat of court is usually enough to bring compliance or at least some form of restitution. But if you want to be strict about it, you can ask them to leave, but beware you may have to use the courts to enforce your strictness.

      Thanks again for reading and commenting, I do appreciate it,


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