What’s the deal with evictions in Mississippi?
Landlord and tenant law is in a constant state of evolution. Some things you once assumed to be true may no longer hold and some things that just make sense to you might be unclear to others. Regardless of your understanding of the law, there’s one thing that pretty clear across the board: evictions are the worst, whether you’re the tenant or the property owner.
For one property management company at the Canton Estates Apartment Complex, a vague law almost led to the eviction of a number of families. This is where a local rap group that goes by the name 2 Gutta, filmed a music video. They invited neighborhood teens to be a part of the video, which featured, among other things, fake semi-automatic weapons. The property managers were less than impressed when they saw the video, and threatened to evict the families of the kids responsible for the video for breaking the rules of the complex by having weapons on the property. When it became clear that, of course these weapons were just props, the families were allowed to stay.
But, were these landlords in the right? Could they have evicted these families over something like that? If the weapons were really, given the provision in the lease that forbids dangerous weapons because they could be considered a threat to the safety of other tenants, then yes. Read on to learn more about the eviction process in the state of Mississippi.
What are some reasons I can evict a tenant?
- Nonpayment of rent
- Violation of the terms of the lease
- Substantial damage to the rental property
- End of month-to-month tenancy
Are there situations in which I cannot evict a tenant?
Similar to when you’re looking for prospective tenants, an attempt to evict tenants based on some form of discrimination is against the law. This includes age, race, gender, religion, familial status, etc.
Similarly, it is illegal to evict a tenant under circumstances which may be viewed in any way as retaliatory—for example, if a tenant filed a complaint with you or with the city regarding the condition of your property, then you may not evict that tenant as a response.
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What is the process normally like?
Before we look at the typical eviction proceedings for the state of Mississippi, it’s important to remember that if there’s a possibility of settling any tenant or eviction related issues out of court, it might end up saving you a lot of time, money, and grief to do so. For example, imagine if the property management company from Canton had proceeded right to court without investigating if the weapons were real or fake? What a mess that could’ve been.
If you decide it’s time to proceed with an official eviction, you will go through the following process:
- Mississippi requires that you give your tenant 3-days’ notice for evictions based on non-payment of rent. The notice must be in writing, informing them of the entire amount owed, and it should explain that they must pay the entire amount or legal action will be taken to remove them from the property. Note that the tenant isn’t obligated to vacate until there is an actual court order.
- If you are trying to evict a tenant based on any other grounds, a 30-day notice stating the issue and referencing the term of the lease in violation must be issued. It should also inform the tenant that they can stay on the premises if they resolve the issue within the 30-day window, or an eviction suit will be brought against them. In the event that you are simply ending a month-to-month tenancy, a 30-day notice to quit is still required to proceed.
- Notice may be delivered personally to a tenant (and may legally be received by anyone at least 13 years of age who resides on the property), or it may be delivered by a registered or certified mail, with a return receipt. The landlord or an employee or representative may execute either of these methods.
- If the tenant hasn’t complied with the 3- or 30-day notice, then Mississippi requires the landlord to obtain a court order to proceed with an eviction hearing. File and serve a Summons and Complaint for Eviction with the court in the jurisdiction of your property.
- The sheriff will serve the tenant with a summons containing the date, time, and location of their hearing, as well as it will detail the cause for their eviction.
- At the eviction hearing, it’s the landlord’s responsibility to prove that the cause for eviction is valid – whether it’s nonpayment of rent, or any other violation of the lease. Along with a copy of the lease and notice served, the landlord should furnish the court with any other proof of the validity of the eviction. This could include any receipts or photographs of damage, witnesses, correspondence, etc. The tenant will have the opportunity to defend themselves.
- In the event that the tenant fails to appear in court, or their case is otherwise dismissed, the court will issue a Writ of Execution. This Writ of Execution indicates the amount of time the tenant has before they must vacate the property, or else their property will be removed, and they will be locked out from the property. The sheriff must be present for the removal of the tenant’s property, as well as the tenant being locked out.
Note: Somewhat unique to Mississippi is the fact that in some circumstances, the landlord may self-evict a tenant. In order for this to be an option for the landlord, it must be clearly stated in the terms of the lease agreement, and the process must follow the letter of the law precisely, or the consequences could be very costly. Just as with the standard eviction proceedings, proper notice must be given, as well as legal notice of eviction. For greater detail it would be best to seek legal advice; self-eviction is a fairly complex process and should be pursued with caution.
Where can I learn more?
If you have any questions, or think you may want to start the eviction process with a tenant in Massachusetts, please consult a lawyer.
- Mississippi Legal Services Eviction Guide
- Mississippi Legal Services Landlord-Tenant Law
- Nolo: Illegal Eviction Procedures in Mississippi
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Disclaimer: The materials on this database provide general information related to the law and are intended to provide a layman’s summary of the law. The information provided does not constitute legal advice and the manager of this database is not a law firm. These materials are intended, but cannot be promised or guaranteed to be current, complete or up-to-date. All of the information offered are intended for general informational purposes only. You should not act or rely on any of the information contained on this database without first seeking the advice of a qualified attorney.