What Does the Bible Say About Eviction?

Eviction is an unfortunate situation where tenants are removed from a rental property for failing to uphold their end of the rental agreement. As Christians seeking to faithfully follow Jesus, we must carefully examine what Scripture teaches about eviction.


Eviction occurs when a landlord removes a tenant who has violated their lease contract. Common lease violations include nonpayment of rent, property damage, illegal activities, or refusing to leave after adequate notice.

While evictions can feel scary and overwhelming for tenants, Christians must evaluate this issue through a biblical lens. Does Scripture condone tenants failing to pay what they owe in rent? Or does God’s Word clearly prohibit such actions?

As we will explore, the Bible strongly denounces theft in any form. When tenants willfully withhold rent owed to a landlord, it is a form of theft and prohibited by Scripture. While circumstances may sometimes be beyond one’s control, this never justifies theft of rental services.

What Does the Bible Say About Eviction?

Theft of Any Kind is Condemned in Scripture

The Bible consistently categorizes the taking of anything that rightfully belongs to another as theft. Scripture leaves no room for justifying such actions:

  • “You shall not steal” (Exodus 20:15)
  • “Nor thieves…will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:10)
  • “Let him who stole steal no longer” (Ephesians 4:28)
  • “Do not steal” (Mark 10:19)

When people move into a rental property, they formally agree to pay the landlord a set rent to occupy that space. Refusing to pay the agreed upon rent therefore takes something not rightly theirs. This violates biblical commands against theft.

Tenants failing to pay rent essentially steal from property owners relying on that income. It wrongly withholds earnings they are entitled to per the mutually agreed upon lease terms.

Tenants Have a Biblical Obligation to Fulfill Rental Commitments

Scripture emphasizes keeping one’s word and fulfilling what you agree to do. The Bible warns against making commitments that later go unfulfilled:

  • “When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; For He has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you have vowed—Better not to vow than to vow and not pay.” (Ecclesiastes 5:4-5)
  • “But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your “Yes” be “Yes,” and your “No,” “No,” lest you fall into judgment.” (James 5:12)
  • “Each of you should keep your word and be a person of honesty, so that people will believe what you say.” (Matthew 5:33-37)

Renting a property involves formal agreements with clear contractual obligations. Tenants vow in leases to pay rent in exchange for occupancy. Failing to pay what was pledge dishonors one’s word.

Unless due to extreme extenuating circumstances tenants could not control, they have a biblical duty to uphold rental vows and pay what is owed. Otherwise they show disregard for biblical principles of integrity and oath-keeping.

Landlords Have Rights Requiring Protection from Theft

Scripture recognizes the legitimacy of private property rights which people are entitled to have protected:

  • “You shall not steal…You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife…nor anything that is your neighbor’s.” (Exodus 20:15-17)
  • “Let no one cheat or defraud his neighbor. For God is witness against theft and violence.” (Leviticus 25:14,17)

Landlords lawfully own rental properties. While stewardship requires mercifulness, their rights still require protection from theft. Tenants taking residency without paying undermines the property rights of landlords.

As followers of Jesus, we are called to advocate for justice when the vulnerable suffer oppression and mistreatment (Isaiah 1:17). In the context of housing, landlords relying on rental income to survive can be harmed by tenants who unlawfully withhold rent. We must defend the wronged party.

Mercy Must be Coupled with Accountability

Scripture balances compassion for the needy with calls to personal responsibility:

  • “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10)
  • “He who works his land will have abundant food, but he who chases fantasies lacks judgment.” (Proverbs 12:11)
  • “Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” (James 1:19)

Certainly landlords as Christians are obligated to show heartfelt mercy to tenants facing genuine and unintended hardship. However, they are justified in holding tenants accountable who breach commitments without legitimate excuse.

Grace should not be exploited as a pretext for excusing financial irresponsibility or lack of effort that harms others. Compassion and accountability together best reflect God’s heart for justice and mercy.

In conclusion, Scripture condemns theft and failing to keep one’s word. While landlords should relate to tenants with compassion, unbiblical actions like refusing to pay owed rent cannot be justified. As Christians guided by God’s Word, we must take care to uphold righteousness in this complex issue.

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