An eviction notice essentially informs the renter of a property that the owner or property manager needs the tenant out of the rental property by a certain date, due to specific violations, or the renter will be sued. Eviction notices come in a few different formats, and the legality of each is governed very closely by state law.
It is important to note that state laws vary widely regarding eviction notices, so you should read your state law in detail before completing an eviction notice form.
Eviction notices do not require the tenant to move out immediately, but normally provide a notice of a specific amount of time in which the tenant must resolve issues with the landlord, or move out. The “or” is very important in that statement – tenants’ rights in most states provide that the tenant must contact the landlord to begin to resolve any dispute, but the dispute does not need to be resolved in the amount of time provided. In some states, a “no cause” notice can be sent to force the tenant to leave the property, but these are generally issued in extreme cases, such as the tenant’s refusal to pay rent for several months, or serious damage to the property. “No cause” also requires a longer time period for the tenant to vacate the premises.
Types of Eviction Notices:
- Notice to pay rent or quit. If the tenant does not pay rent when it is due or through a late period (often 5 days, depending on the state), then the landlord may serve an eviction notice to force the tenant to pay rent. The allotted period is usually 3 to 5 days. If the tenant resolves the issue, they may stay on the property.
- Notice to correction a lease violation or quit. In some states, but not all states, a landlord may serve an eviction notice if a tenant clearly violates terms of the lease agreement, including hoarding junk in the front yard, allowing more people to live on the property than allowed for in the lease, or having a pet that is not allowed on the lease agreement. Again, depending greatly on the state, this eviction notice can range between 3 to 10 days.
- Notice to quit. This type of eviction notice is not legal in all states, so check your local laws carefully before issuing it. Landlords usually apply this type of eviction notice to tenants who repeatedly violate terms of the lease, including repeated failure to pay rent. Reasons for eviction should be clear, but there is also no possibility of resolving issues with the landlord except in court.
- 30 to 60 Day Eviction Notices. These are standard “no cause” eviction notices, although again, timeline can vary greatly by state. In some states, a landlord can require a tenant to move in as little as 20 days, while other states require landlords to allow more than 60 days for the tenant to resolve issues or move. Typically, the landlord may not issue this type of eviction notice until the original lease is over, and may not use it as retaliation or discrimination against the tenant.
How is an Eviction Notice Used?
Generally, eviction notices are issued for serious violations of the lease. These violations can include unpaid rent, damage to the property, violation of pet clauses in the lease, or repeated noise violations. Specific violations listed in an eviction notice in most states allow the landlord to force the tenant out if the tenant does not respond to the eviction notice within 3-5 days of receiving it. Unspecified grievances require the landlord to give the tenant between 20 and 60 days to respond after receiving the eviction notice, depending largely on the state.
Eviction notices should be used to force the tenant into resolution talks. They are not used to allow higher-paying tenants to rent the property, or to force renovations on the property to make it more appealing. Eviction notices should only be used when a landlord has grievances with the tenant. Be aware that your tenant will likely speak to an attorney regarding their rights, so you should contact an attorney yourself to help resolution discussions proceed. If no resolution is reached, you as the landlord can sue for back rent or the cost of damages on the property.
In some cases, eviction notices are a notification to the tenant that the landlord will sue them. Tenants still have rights in these cases, but you can take them to court if you have a valid case for eviction.
When is an Eviction Notice Invalid?
Although laws vary greatly by state, eviction notices in general must be served in person by the landlord to the tenant, or a legal adult who also lives on the premises if that person is not on the lease agreement. Eviction notices may not be served to children, or adults who are present but do not live on the property.
If the landlord cannot reach the tenant in person, and there is no one present who is legally able to accept the eviction notice, the notice must be both posted on the door of the property, and mailed via certified mail to the tenant, to ensure that they receive it. The timeline for the eviction begins when the tenant receives the letter, not before. If the notice says 3-5 days, the landlord must wait until the tenant has received the letter – if the letter takes 3 days to deliver, the landlord may not legally evict the tenant in that time period. Weekends are included in the notice days.
Eviction notices must provide all information regarding reasons for eviction, or, in some states, offer a long enough timeline for the tenant to attempt to resolve unspecified grievances and/or move out.