Whether you’re a landlord or a tenant, a writ of possession plays a SIGNIFICANT role in eviction proceedings.
When this writ is awarded to a landlord in court, he will have full possession of the property again.
This means he can order the tenant to move out of the home.
Does this sound like a situation you’re in? Read our guide below for more information about writs of possession and when they can be used.
What Is a Writ of Possession?
A writ of possession is a court order that allows you to recover a piece of land or property.
Typically, this is granted to a landlord who wishes to regain possession of the property or home that is being rented out to a tenant.
When tenants violate the terms of their lease agreement and refuse to leave the rental property, this legal document is required by state law for eviction.
Before filing an eviction case in court, a landlord should usually state at least one of the following reasons:
#1 – Nonpayment of Rent
If your tenant is not paying the rent on your apartment or home, this is almost always grounds for eviction.
As long as the rental property is livable and well-maintained, the tenant has no right to stop his rent payments to the landlord.
#2 – Rent/Lease Expiration
Now, if the lease has expired, but the tenant still refuses to leave the property, then you may need help to forcibly move him out.
Get a lawyer to represent you in court so you can get your writ of possession and start the eviction process right away.
#3 – Lease Violation
What if the tenant violates the terms of his contract?
Well, if this is an issue that cannot be resolved between the landlord and the tenant, then it has to be brought up in court. If the landlord wins, he will be granted a writ of possession.
#4 – Property Damage
Another common problem people encounter with tenants is property damage.
If your tenant causes significant damage that cannot be explained by normal wear and tear, then you may be given a writ of possession for your rental unit.
#5 – Illegal Activity
Lastly, if an owner finds out that his tenant is conducting illegal activity in the property, he can use this evidence in court to get a writ of possession for immediate eviction.
Just make sure you’re aware of the law/s in your state regarding this!
Other situations that violate the conditions stipulated in your contract may also be grounds for the removal of a tenant.
When in doubt, contact your lawyer to figure out if you should bring the case to court.
How Do I Get a Writ of Possession?
The exact process to get a writ of possession varies per state, but generally, any landlord filing for one in court will have to follow these steps:
- After winning the eviction judgment, fill out the legal forms required for a writ of possession.
- Submit these documents in court and pay the required fee to the sheriff’s office for his services.
- Attend the court hearing and submit evidence that shows you have secured a judgment against the tenant.
- Receive your writ! Since the writ of possession is a court order, you have the right to force the other party to leave. A sheriff will often assist you during this step, especially if tenants refuse to vacate the premises.
After receiving the writ of possession, a tenant will typically be given a certain amount of time to collect all of his belongings and leave the property.
However, if he still does not vacate the premises after the deadline, the other party can call on local law enforcement to intervene.
Usually, a sheriff will forcibly evict the tenant from the property and lock him out if necessary. This way, the writ can finally be carried out, and the landlord will safely regain possession of his home.
Now, if you’re a tenant, you can appeal these writs in court.
If you feel the other party was discriminatory or retaliatory or that the eviction was improperly served, you can hire an attorney to back up your case.
If you plan to do this, make sure you have all the information you need to support your claim.
You should also take note of the appeal period for a writ of possession in your area—in North Carolina, for instance, this is only 10 days.
Avoiding an Eviction Lawsuit
What most people don’t realize is that this lengthy and inconvenient process can be avoided as long as you follow some basic safety precautions:
- Always run a background check before you rent out to another party. Knowing employment status, credit history, and any other relevant information will help you figure out if the potential tenant is reliable and trustworthy.
- Hire a lawyer to thoroughly go over the lease agreement with you. Both parties’ attorneys should clearly discuss the contract with their clients so that there are no misunderstandings before signing.
- Always ask questions and clarify details, even if it may be uncomfortable—it’s better to be fully aware now rather than later when more serious problems can occur.
- Consider getting a property manager to check up on your rental units regularly and handle the whole rental process for you. After you rent out a property, you want to make sure the contract is being upheld, but if you have a lot of them, it can be hard to keep track by yourself.
Remember, if you want to reclaim possession, a writ is necessary for legal eviction.
Fortunately, you don’t need a legal background to understand the basics of it!
Now that you know how and when to use a writ of possession, you can safeguard your property when you encounter any problems with tenants.
If you have more questions for us, don’t hesitate to contact us for more information! We’ll be more than happy to assist you.