Eviction Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Eviction, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Eviction?

n. a generic word for the act of expelling (kicking out) someone from real property either by legal action (suit for unlawful detainer), a claim of superior (actual) title to the property, or actions which prevent the tenant from continuing in possession (constructive eviction). Most frequently eviction consists of ousting a tenant who has breached the terms of a lease or rental agreement by not paying rent or a tenant who has stayed (held over) after the term of the lease has expired or only had a month-to-month tenancy.

History and Meaning of Eviction

Eviction is a legal term that originates from the Old French word 'eviction', which means ousting or dispossession. The act of eviction refers to the process of legally removing someone from real property by either claiming superior title to the property, through legal action, or with actions that make it impossible for a tenant to continue staying on the property. Most commonly, eviction is carried out to remove tenants who have breached the terms and conditions of a lease by not paying rent, holding over after the end of their lease, or causing damage to the property.

Examples of Eviction

  1. A landlord files a suit for unlawful detainer to evict a tenant who hasn't paid rent in several months.
  2. A tenant is evicted after violating the terms of their lease by subletting the apartment to someone else without permission from the landlord.
  3. A family is evicted from their home after the owner successfully claims superior title to the property.
  4. A tenant is evicted after causing extensive damage to the apartment, making it uninhabitable.
  5. A landlord begins the process of eviction due to the tenant's violation of a no-pets policy.

Legal Terms Similar to Eviction

  • Unlawful Detainer: A legal proceeding that allows landlords to evict tenants who are staying on the property illegally, i.e., without a lease, after the lease has expired, or after a breach of the lease agreement.
  • Constructive Eviction: A term used to describe actions that make it impossible for a tenant to continue living on the property, such as cutting off utilities, failing to make necessary repairs, or harassing the tenant.
  • Retaliatory Eviction: A landlord's eviction of a tenant in response to a complaint made by the tenant or for other protected activities, such as joining a tenant organization.
  • Ejectment: A legal proceeding to recover possession of property by someone who claims to have superior title to the property. Ejectment is often used to remove squatters or others who do not have a legal right to be on the property.