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Eviction Laws and Tenant Rights in Mississippi

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In a Nutshell

Landlords in Mississippi can’t just change the locks, toss your belongings out on the front yard, or shut down essential utilities. A landlord must follow the eviction process in order to have a tenant evicted for any reason. Here's an overview of what this means for tenants in Mississippi.

Written by Upsolve Team
Updated December 22, 2021


Renters in Mississippi have certain rights to their rental property called tenant rights. These rights also protect renters in the eviction process. Understanding tenant rights, which are governed by state law, can help renters and tenants stop or slow an eviction. 

This article covers the basics of Mississippi landlord-tenant law and the rights they give renters. This article will be useful to Mississippi renters who are being threatened with eviction, are behind on rent, or whose lease is about to expire. 

What Is Eviction? 

Eviction is the formal legal process that landlords must use if they want to remove a tenant from a rental property. Eviction usually involves providing the tenant with written notice of the eviction, an eviction lawsuit, and then a court order that allows the eviction to proceed. 

In many other states, landlords must have a court order to remove a tenant from their rental property. Removing a tenant without a court order is called self-help eviction, illegal eviction, or illegal lockout. 

Self-help eviction may include changing the locks or shutting off utilities. Mississippi does not allow for self-help eviction unless the lease agreement gives the landlord this right. The landlord can’t breach the peace when carrying out a self-help eviction. This may include breaking into the premises, using violence, or threatening to use violence. 

In Mississippi, a landlord can evict a tenant with cause or without cause. An eviction with cause is when a landlord is evicting a tenant because they have violated a term of the lease agreement or committed some other act that justifies terminating the lease. Eviction without cause is when the landlord wants to remove the tenant because they simply don’t want them in the property anymore.

The way the landlord must proceed with evicting a tenant depends on whether they’re evicting them with or without cause. Although the court processes are the same, the notice requirements — discussed below — are not.

Who Can Be Evicted in Mississippi?

For the eviction process to apply, there must be a landlord-tenant relationship. A landlord-tenant relationship is created when a landlord and tenant agree to exchange rent for access to a rental property. Landlord-tenant relationships are usually created when the landlord and tenant sign a written lease agreement, also called a rental agreement. Although written lease agreements are more common, tenancies can also be created through a verbal agreement. These are generally treated as month-to-month tenancies.

In the state of Mississippi, people living with a tenant can also be evicted, even if they’re not on the lease

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Why Can Someone Be Evicted in Mississippi? 

A landlord can evict a tenant if:

  • They’re short, late, or behind on rent,

  • They’ve breached the lease agreement.

  • The lease has expired. When the lease has expired, it means that the lease has reached the end of the designated lease term.

The amount of notice the landlord needs to give before filing an eviction lawsuit depends on the reason for the eviction. These notice procedures are covered in the sections below. 

Late, Short, or Behind on Rent? 

Mississippi landlords can evict a tenant for not paying rent in full on the date it is due. Tenants don’t have a grace period unless their rental agreement provides one. A grace period would allow a tenant to pay rent late without penalty. 

If the tenant fails to pay rent on the day it’s due, the landlord can send the tenant a three-day notice demanding that the tenant either pay rent or “quit,” which means move out.

Paying Overdue Rent To Stop Eviction

Under Mississippi law, tenants can stop an eviction by paying late rent, also called back rent, and the landlord’s expenses either before or at an eviction hearing. 

Lease Expiration or Termination

In Mississippi, landlords can evict a tenant by either terminating the lease or not renewing a lease after it expires. In both cases, the landlord is alleging that the tenant no longer has the right to live in the property, regardless of the tenant’s status on paying rent. 

When a landlord terminates a lease, they’re ending the lease before it was supposed to end because the tenant has breached the lease. To terminate a lease and start an eviction lawsuit, the landlord generally has to give written notice. 

When a lease expires, it has simply reached the end of the term that the landlord and tenant agreed to. Landlords usually don’t have to give notice of eviction when the lease expires unless notice is required by the terms of the lease or the lease is month to month.

The Mississippi Eviction Process 

In Mississippi, the eviction process usually starts with the landlord giving written notice to the tenant informing them that the landlord will terminate the lease. Once notice has been properly given to the tenant, the landlord will file an eviction action to get a court order. When proceeding with an eviction, the landlord needs to follow certain procedures. 

What does a landlord have to do to begin an eviction?

To start eviction proceedings the landlord first has to terminate the lease. To terminate the lease, they need to provide the tenant with a compliant Mississippi eviction notice. The type of notice the landlord must provide depends on their reason for terminating the tenancy. 

When No Notice Is Required

A landlord doesn’t need to provide an eviction when: 

  • The lease is for a fixed term that’s expired and the landlord didn’t agree to provide notice in the lease agreement.

  • The tenant has committed a substantial violation that materially affects health and safety. If, for example, the tenant’s damage to the property resulted in a dangerous gas leak or fire, a landlord would likely be able to evict the tenant without notice.

3-Day Notice To Pay or Quit

If the landlord is terminating a lease for nonpayment of rent, they need to send the tenant a three-day notice to pay or quit. Once the landlord gives notice, the tenant has three days to pay any missing rent. If they don’t have the rent, they need to “quit,” which means move out of the rental property.

7-Day Notice for Weekly Tenants 

A landlord can end a week-to-week tenancy without cause. To do so, they must provide the tenant with an eviction notice at least seven days in advance.

14-Day Notice To Remedy or Quit

If the tenant has committed a lease violation not related to rent and the violation can be remedied, the landlord must provide the tenant with a 14-day notice to remedy the violation or move out. 

14-Day Notice To Quit With No Right To Remedy

If the tenant has committed the same lease violation (that’s not rent-related) a second time in six months, and the landlord sent a 14-day notice to remedy or quit the first time, the landlord can then send an unconditional 14-day notice to quit. With this type of notice, the tenant no longer has the option to remedy the violation. 

30-Day Notice for Month-to-Month Tenants 

If the landlord wants to end a month-to-month tenancy, they must provide the tenant with an eviction notice at least 30 days in advance.

If the tenant hasn’t complied with the notice by the end of the notice period, or if the notice is a 14-day unconditional notice, the landlord can file their eviction case in a Justice Court where the rental property is located after the notice period has passed.

What happens once the eviction action is filed with the court? 

After the landlord files an eviction action with the court, the eviction will proceed as follows.

1. The complaint and summons are served on the tenant.

Once the landlord files an eviction action, they need to serve the tenant with a summons and complaint. Service is the formal process of notifying a party that a lawsuit has been filed against them. In Mississippi, the landlord can complete service in one of the following ways: 

  • Personal service: The landlord can complete service by having a sheriff or other private party personally give the court documents to the tenant. 

  • Service upon a family member: If the tenant can’t be found, the servicer can give the documents to a family member residing at the tenant's home who is older than 16. They must also mail a second copy within three days. 

  • Service by posting: If neither personal service nor service on a family member is available, the landlord can complete service by posting a copy in a place where it can be easily found on the property where the tenant usually resides. 

2.The tenant answers the complaint.

Once the tenant has the summons, the tenant can answer the complaint. Answering a complaint means providing a written response explaining why the tenant believes they shouldn’t be evicted. If the tenant has any counterclaims (discussed below), they should include them in the answer. 

It’s generally a good idea to file a written answer. Once written, answers need to be filed with the court before the hearing date listed on the summons. To properly answer an eviction complaint, the tenant needs to make sure it’s in writing. Then they must sign it before a licensed notary public before they file it with the court clerk. 

3. There’s an eviction hearing. 

The summons will contain a hearing date, which usually serves as the eviction trial. At this hearing, the landlord will need to show why they are evicting the tenant. And, the tenant will have an opportunity to present their defenses. 

It’s extremely important to appear at the hearing. If you don’t, the court will likely issue a default judgment against you. When a default judgment is issued, it means you’ve lost the lawsuit and the landlord can move forward with the eviction.

Telling Your Side of the Story: Affirmative Defenses and Counterclaims

If you’re facing eviction in Mississippi, you can present defenses, affirmative defenses, and counterclaims in your answer and at the eviction hearing. 

Defenses 

A normal defense is when you deny the landlord’s allegations in the complaint. For example, if the landlord alleges that you failed to pay rent on time. A normal defense would be that you did pay on time. 

Affirmative Defenses 

An affirmative defense is different from a normal defense. An affirmative defense is when you argue that the landlord can’t evict you even if the allegations in the complaint are true. A common affirmative defense is that the landlord filed the eviction action in retaliation for exercising your right to make necessary repairs to the property.

Counterclaims

A counterclaim is when you allege that the landlord violated the law and caused damages. For example, if you made necessary repairs to the property and the landlord never reimbursed you for the repairs, you could file a counterclaim in the eviction action.

What Happens After an Eviction Trial?

After the eviction hearing, the court will issue a judgment. If it’s in favor of the landlord, it’s called a judgment for possession. This judgment is usually issued the same day as the hearing. 

The judge will also issue an eviction order called a removal warrant. The removal warrant allows a law enforcement officer, like the sheriff or a marshall, to remove the tenant from the rental property. In some cases, the judge will give the tenant a few days to move.

If the tenant doesn’t move by the date they are required to leave the property, the landlord will execute the eviction using the removal warrant. Execution is the process of physically removing the tenant from the property. 

Tenants will have the right to appeal the judge’s decision within 30 days. Appeals are often complicated and difficult to complete. Tenants who would like to appeal should inform the court of their intention to appeal and contact an attorney as soon as possible. 

Practical Tips for Tenants Facing Eviction in Mississippi

If you’re facing eviction or you believe your landlord isn’t being fair or isn’t following the lease agreement, you can take steps to protect yourself. Below are tips to help you assert your tenant rights.

Gather any and all evidence.

If your landlord has given you an eviction notice or you think your landlord will try to evict you, be sure to gather evidence that can help you defend yourself in court. Gather any and all documents, photos, videos, and any other evidence supporting any claims you plan to make in court. 

If you’re alleging that the home was not safe or liveable, it’s often a good idea to have a municipal building inspector visit the property. The inspector can complete an inspection and issue a report about the conditions of the property, which you can then submit to the court.

If you absolutely can’t attend the hearing, call the court to reschedule. 

It’s extremely important that you attend the hearing. If you absolutely can’t, call the court and ask for a continuance. Through a continuance, the court will give you a new court date. If you can’t attend the hearing and you don’t get a continuance, the court will likely issue a default judgment against you.

Keep detailed records.

Keep detailed records of any interactions or communications you have with the landlord or any payments you make to them. Keeping records will prevent your landlord from lying in court. This is especially important if you decide to pay your landlord any past-due rent to stop the eviction. If you decide to do this, be careful about who you pay and when.

Settlement agreements are also common. Through a settlement agreement, you can agree to either move out of the property or pay missing rent by a certain time. In exchange, the landlord will dismiss the eviction action. If you’re able to negotiate a settlement, make sure the agreement is in writing and signed by both you and the landlord.

Communicate proactively.

Communicate early on if you’re having a disagreement with your landlord, especially if you think it might lead to an eviction notice. If you reach out early, you may be able to negotiate an agreement before an eviction suit is filed. Generally, it’s best to avoid an eviction lawsuit. The mere filing of an eviction can negatively impact your rental history and prevent you from getting rental housing in the future. If the landlord does file an eviction, consider offering to negotiate a settlement.

Tenant Resources in Mississippi



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