Can a Landlord Evict a Sexual Predator Upon Finding Out?


Many people are concerned about sexual predators living in their communities and sometimes pressure landlords to evict them. While it's tempting to cave in to the demands of neighbors evicting a tenant, even one with a serious criminal history, isn't something that can be easily done. Generally, landlords can only evict sexual predators when they can convince a judge legal grounds for eviction exist. Without grounds to evict, you usually must wait until the tenant's lease ends or his rental agreement term expires before asking him leave.

Leases and Evictions

Leases and other rental agreements are binding legal contracts. This is true even if one party is a convicted criminal. While your shock at discovering a tenant is a sexual predator is understandable, it does not automatically give you the right to tell the tenant to leave. Grounds for eviction vary among states but typically include a tenant's failure to pay rent or maintain the property. Unless your tenant lied on her rental application or the law restricts where sex offenders may live, your outrage won't be enough to obtain an eviction order.

Local Residency Laws

It's sometimes illegal for certain sex offenders, such as those convicted of crimes against children, to live in certain areas where children congregate. Laws typically bar sexual predators from living near schools, churches, parks and libraries. There may also be penalties for landlords knowingly renting to sexual predators barred from living near certain areas. If your tenant is living in a community with bans on sexual predators living in certain areas you may even be required to immediately evict him or her.

Tenants With Criminal Backgrounds

There are no federal laws prohibiting housing discrimination against a tenant with a criminal background. As a landlord, your rental applications should always ask tenants if they have a criminal background. If you discover that a tenant lied about his status as a sex offender on his rental application you may also have sufficient grounds to terminate his lease.

Sexual Predators and Unauthorized Occupants

You may find that a sexual predator is staying with one of your tenants but is himself not on the lease. In these situations, it is often fairly easy to evict the "unauthorized occupant" because he doesn't have a valid lease or rental agreement. If your legitimate tenant refuses to force the sexual predator occupant to leave or the predator won't leave upon request, follow your state's eviction process to have the predator removed from your rental property.

Bans Against Self-Help Evictions

Laws in virtually all states forbid "self-help" evictions, in which you or people who work for you evict a tenant without due process. To evict a tenant, you must provide her with proper notice, file an eviction case in court, ask the judge to order the eviction and then wait for your local sheriff to come and physically remove the tenant. If you fail to follow eviction laws you may not only be stuck with the tenant, but she may sue you and in some places might even be able to press criminal charges against you.

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