My landlord and I have, shall we say, butted heads a time or ten. It’s not that I’ve ever violated the lease or anything… I always pay my rent on time and all that jazz. But the two of us have a personality conflict and I can tell he really wants me gone. Can he just force me to leave even though I haven’t violated the lease?
Full Question and Answer
Assuming you have a lease for a fixed term, say a year, rather than month-to-month, rest assured your landlord can’t evict you without reason—including something as arbitrary as disliking you as a person. He signed the same contract you did, and no matter how seething his hatred is, as long as you’re fulfilling all of the obligations set out in that lease, he simply has to deal with it.
Now, keep in mind that some states do give your landlord the ability to evict you for reasons outside your lease. Every state has laws allowing landlords to use what’s called an “unconditional quit notice” ordering you to high tail it out of the property for a specified reason. Again, there has to be a reason—but it doesn’t have to be a violation of the lease. For example, in Connecticut, a landlord can force you out if you’re convicted of prostitution or gambling, so it’s probably a good idea to keep your self-declared title of “pimp master” to yourself.
Some states such as New Jersey also allow this for assaulting or threatening the landlord—so we trust when you say you’ve butted heads you don’t mean that literally. Getting into a physical or even verbal altercation with your landlord could be grounds for termination of your lease. Obviously this isn’t something you’re going to find in your lease, but depending on what state you live in, the law might allow your landlord to exercise this option, so choose your words and tone wisely, and don’t try to be a tough guy. Simple enough, right?
Now, if you have a month-to-month tenancy arrangement, your landlord doesn’t need a reason to evict you. He does need to give you notice, however—usually at least 30 days. But if you’ve signed a lease for a set number of months, you’re both bound by it no matter how much you loathe each other.
A word to the wise: if you want to make your living situation a little more comfortable for the duration of your lease, you might want to consider resolving your conflict with well-thought out words and an apology, even if you don’t feel like you’re in the wrong. Kill him with kindness!