Eviction Begins with an Eviction Notice

Eviction Notice FormsWhen you need to evict a tenant, the first step in the process is to issue an Eviction Notice. Also referred to as a Notice to Vacate Letter, Notice to Quit, Eviction Notice Letter, Rental Eviction Notice, or Notice to Vacate Premises, it advices the tenant that they must vacate the property.

The eviction notice must be a written notice, with contents and deadlines given as specified by your state’s termination statutes. Using an Eviction Notice provides a record of your attempt to evict the tenant before you pursue any needed legal action. If your tenant does not vacate the property, the court will determine the validity of the eviction notice and give a deadline by which the tenant must vacate the property. The length of time varies by state, but generally is five or more days after a judge makes a ruling.

Although eviction notices are not very long, they are subject to a long list of strict legal requirements. The US Landlord and Tenant Act sets forth laws that universally apply to all landlords and tenants. In addition, each state has detailed rules that must be followed for eviction of a tenant. Before you begin the eviction process, check out the article on this site pertaining to your particular state’s eviction process.

There are a number of reasons for all these rules and laws, the two most important of which are:

  1. Eviction cases are very fast legal procedures, so strict adherence to the rules is a necessity.
  2. The tenant’s home is threatened, so the courts want to make sure there is adequate notice and time to respond.

Reasons for an Eviction Notice

State laws set out very detailed requirements for the type of termination notice required, how they must be written and served, and even the reasons a tenant may be issued an eviction notice. Although the laws vary by state, most require a valid reason to evict a tenant, such as:

  • Failure to pay rent.
  • Excessive lateness paying rent
  • Damage to property
  • Violating the lease agreement

The two most common reasons for issuing an eviction notice are non-payment of rent and violation of lease provisions. If a tenant does not pay their rent on time, the landlord can “serve” or deliver to the tenant an eviction notice commonly called a Notice to Pay Rent or a Notice to Pay Rent or Quit. If the tenant is being evicted for a reason other than failure to pay rent, such as a lease violation, the landlord serves the tenant with an Eviction Notice giving a certain amount of time to correct the violation or vacate.

Some states allow Unconditional Quit Notices, ordering the tenant to vacate the premises without an opportunity to pay the rent, or correct a rental agreement or lease violation if a tenant:

  • Engaged in illegal activity on the premises, such as drug dealing
  • Has been late with the rent more than one time
  • Repeatedly violates a significant lease or rental agreement clause
  • Seriously damaged the rental unit

Eviction Notice for Failure to Pay Rent

Although terminology and requirements vary somewhat from state to state, this type of eviction notice, generally referred to as a Pay Rent or Quit Notice, gives the tenant a specified number of days or weeks to pay the rent or move out. The quickest of the many eviction procedures, state laws have specific time periods that must be observed when dealing with nonpayment of rent. The tenant must pay the amount owed plus any associated late fees, as listed in the signed rental or lease agreement, or move out. If the tenant pays the full amount in the given time, usually 3-5 days there is no eviction. For example, the Texas Notice to Vacate gives the tenant 3 days to pay the rent or move out, and if they fail to do either the landlord can file the eviction lawsuit asking the court for possession, back rent and damages.

Eviction Notice for Failure to Pay Rent on Time

Tenancy agreements include specific policies for paying rent, including due date. If a tenant does not pay rent on time, state laws require landlords to give tenants early notice prior to an eviction, usually more than 10 days. Some states have varying times for the notice period dependent upon the time of year. For example, in Pennsylvania, the past due rent notice period is 15 days between April 1 and September 1, and 30 days between September 1 and April 1.

Eviction Notice for a Lease Violation

Often referred to as Cure or Quit Notices, this type of eviction notice is used when a tenant violates a term or condition of the lease or rental agreement. The tenant is given a set amount of time to correct (or cure) the violation and if they fail to do so, must move out. Some examples of situations where a lease violation eviction notice is served are:

  • Getting a pet
  • Allowing extra people stay in the rental property
  • Creating a disturbance or making loud noises that disturb others
  • Being a “nuisance”; threatening the safety or health of other tenants or the property

State laws give varying times for correcting the lease violation, often five or ten days. If the tenant corrects the violation in the time specified, there is no eviction.

Eviction Notice for Damage to Property

A landlord may file for an eviction if the tenant damages the property in excess of normal wear and tear. Normal wear and tear consists of such things as a few carpet stains or worn carpet at points of entrance. However, if a tenant puts a hole in the wall or destroys mounted light fixtures, the landlord may evict for these excessive damages to the property. Michigan is one state that has a 7-Day Notice for this particular situation. Damages must be caused by the tenant intentionally. If the tenant volunteers or agrees to have the damages fixed or to pay for them, it is up to the landlord to accept, or proceed with an eviction and serve a Notice to Quit and initiate eviction proceedings.

Eviction Notice for Holdovers

Many leases automatically switch to month- to-month after the initial lease term has ended. It is quite common that after a lease ends the landlord and tenant are happy with the continuing month-to-month arrangement.  When the landlord is ready to end the ongoing arrangement, he needs to serve an eviction notice (usually a 30-Day Notice).  However this is more of a “friendly eviction notice” as opposed to an adversarial notice, since it is just ending a month-to-month as opposed to demanding rent or complaining of a lease violation. For example, South Carolina is one of many states where a 30-Day Notice is used in this situation.

If a tenant occupies leased property without the landlord’s permission after the lease expires, that tenant is called a “holdover.” The length of time for the notice is dependent upon how frequently the tenant pays rent. For example, if the tenant pays monthly rent, the landlord must provide at least a thirty day notice.

Unconditional Quit Notice

Some states allow landlords to issue an eviction notice where the tenant cannot do anything to correct the error. This notice is used when the tenant faces eviction for extreme violations like destroying property or not paying rent for months (even if the tenant pays the rent or attempts to correct the situation). There is generally a much longer deadline to respond and these notices frequently apply to month-to-month tenancy.

If you wish to evict the tenant for your own reasons, your state’s laws may allow you to do so. Additionally, in some states a landlord can evict a tenant with a 30 to 60 day notice for reasons unrelated to the tenant’s behavior, for example:

  • If the building is sold
  • If the landlord wants to live in the unit or use it for a different purpose
  • If the landlord want to do major repairs or renovations

This type of notice is also referred to as Notice for Termination without Cause, since the eviction is not based on a certain grievance. However, many states have just cause eviction controls, making it difficult or illegal to evict without cause.

Preparing an Eviction Notice

To be valid, an eviction notice must provide all the information a tenant needs to understand the reason for eviction plus all the information needed to respond within required time frames. Legal eviction processes begins only if and when the tenant does not use the information in the notice and respond before the deadline. States and the courts determine what kind of information is necessary and how it must be presented.

Generally speaking, your notice should include:

  • The reason for the eviction
  • If the tenant can remedy the offense.
  • The time limit

If the contents of the notice or its method of delivery is invalid or defective in any way, the landlord must start the entire process over again and serve a new eviction notice.

Delivering the Eviction Notice

Again, it is important to check the procedures required by your state. Generally speaking, the best method of delivery is to tape the notice to the front door and send a copy by certified mail. In some states you hand it to the tenant, although you should avoid that if there is risk of a violent confrontation.  Proper notification is essential so that your tenant cannot tell the judge in an eviction case that they did not receive proper notification.  A landlord should try to have proof the notice was served, such as a photograph of the tenant being served, or a signature from the tenant or the person who served the notice.

Some Tips Related to Eviction Notices

  • Remember that if you appear flexible, the courts may look more kindly on your claim during the eviction process.
  • Never threaten the tenant or attempt to evict the tenant on your own.
  • Remember that rules and laws related to eviction notices vary from state to state. Follow all the procedures dictated by your state laws. For example, states may require different time periods if the tenant is disabled or a senior citizen, or has lived in the unit for a long time.
  • Keep dated, written records of all communication and complaints regarding the tenant and the property, as well as any steps that you took to resolve the problem.

Tenant Response to an Eviction Notice

When a tenant receives an eviction notice, they must leave the property within the time stated on the notice. At this point, the tenant may wish to negotiate with the landlord, as it is to their benefit to do so because:

  • They can prevent a trial, as it is inconvenient and time-consuming.
  • The tenant knows it will be difficult to be approved for a new lease on another place to live with a previous eviction.
  • Eviction can affect a tenant’s credit rating.

If the tenant pays back rent, corrects the lease violation, or makes any other required changes that initiated the eviction notice, eviction proceedings stop.

Prepare for the Eviction Hearing

If your tenant does not respond or correct the violation within the allotted time, you will need to take the tenant to court by filing an eviction lawsuit in the proper court in the jurisdiction where the property is located. Before the court hearing, gather proof that you have just cause to evict the tenant. You will need to be able to show without a doubt that the tenant did not pay rent, was repeatedly late with rent, or violated the lease in some other way by presenting one or more of the following documents:

  • Lease or rental agreement
  • Correspondence, emails, and voicemails related to the eviction
  • Bounced checks
  • Photos of damage to the property
  • Any proof that the lease was violated
  • Copy of the eviction notice and proof that it was received (such as a receipt from the post office, etc.)

Additionally, you will want to identify any witnesses you want to appear in court and request that the court issue them a subpoena.

Eviction, the process whereby a landlord removes the tenant from the rented property, is called by various terms, among them ejectment, forcible detainer, repossession, summary dispossess, summary possession, or unlawful detainer. Eviction laws vary greatly among states and it is important you know what is required to evict a tenant in order to avoid problems and delays. As a landlord, you must meet the legal requirements quickly and competently, in order to prevent your tenant from delaying the process or preventing the eviction from happening altogether.

How and Where to Get an Eviction Notice

You can get an Eviction Notice (Notice to Quit, Notice to Vacate, etc.) for your home state by clicking your state’s link to the right or below.

If you are on this page because you need to evict a tenant, do not just download a free eviction notice from any boilerplate looking site. Doing it cheap can cost you.

You want to make sure that the eviction notice you download is “state-specific,” meaning it is tailored based on the laws for your state. A basic eviction notice template that is the same for every state is going to cause you a problem.

Do You Need an Effective Eviction Notice? Find your state to the right or below. There you can learn about the eviction process for your state and find a link to purchase an eviction notice kit containing everything you need to do an eviction in your state.

What are the components of a good eviction notice?

  • It must be specifically tailored for the state you are in (state-specific)
  • It must contain specific language addressing the tenant’s non-compliance
  • It must contain strict wording to let the tenant know you are serious

All the eviction forms we sell on this site meet these criteria.

Solve your problem today.

If you need to evict a tenant, don’t waste any more time. Do it now and do it right.

Click on your state to the right or below to learn your state’s eviction process and download an eviction notice form specifically tailored for your state and situation.