Make a Free Eviction Notice

An eviction notice is a legally binding document that notifies a tenant that they need to evacuate the premises by a certain date.

Common Questions

Eviction Notice Document Information

What is an Eviction Notice?

Definition

An eviction notice, or Notice of Eviction, is a formal written statement from a landlord to a tenant that informs the tenant of one of two things:

  1. The Tenant must vacate their rental property by a certain date; or
  2. The Tenant must resolve an issue (or issues) by a certain date or vacate.

An eviction notice is used by landlords and property management companies for rental real estate purposes. It is a legal document written to conform to state law that notifies a tenant that they must vacate the premises by a certain date. This document is the first step in evicting a tenant who may be violating the rules of their rental agreement, or whose lease has expired and they refuse to vacate the premises. Whether you are evicting a tenant for non-payment of rent, drug trafficking or other illegal activity, or failure to abide by other terms of the lease, you cannot legally evict them without first delivering an official eviction notice. Other forms of eviction, such as "constructive" eviction, are not legal. Constructive eviction involves changing the locks, turning off the utilities, or physical eviction by removing the tenant's belongings.

Most states require an eviction notice to be given at least 30 days before the tenant must leave the property. Other state-specific real estate laws may exist that govern the eviction process. If someone must be evicted, it is best to work with a knowledgeable lawyer to review your state and local laws because even cities within a state may differ on the process of eviction. Not only can a landlord-tenant lawyer in your area advise you on your state and local laws, they can also review your eviction notice to ensure it has all the necessary elements.

An eviction notice must inform the tenant which provisions of the lease were violated and the amount of time they have to rectify the problem. The notice period depends on the laws of your state and the reason why the eviction is occurring. For example, non-payment of rent may require a notice of 3 days, 5 days, or even between 30 and 60 days.

There are some rare instances that you may be legally allowed to evict someone immediately. This is known as an Eviction Without Consideration, however, you must file a particular request for this type of eviction.

Finally, a Notice of Eviction informs the tenant that both parties (the landlord and the tenant) may need to go to court to complete or resolve the eviction process.

How does an eviction notice become legally enforceable?

Strictly speaking, the eviction notice itself is not legally enforceable. For it to be used in an eviction court case, there must be a way to verify that the tenant read and understood the eviction notice. For this reason, the eviction notice should contain a statement like the following, followed by a space for the tenant’s printed name, date, and signature:

I have read and understood the information contained in this eviction notice to the best of my ability.

Once the eviction notice is legally served following the proper procedures for your state (not all states allow you as the landlord or property manager to affect proper and legal service) this does not mean you can now evict the tenant. An eviction notice includes the reason why the tenant is being evicted and the time period they have to correct the deficiency. For example, if someone neglected to pay their rent, the notice would explain that rent was not received and when rent must be paid by (including any listed late fee) to prevent the eviction from proceeding in court. If the tenant refuses to comply with or acknowledge the terms of the notice, you have the right to take them to court. However, keep in mind that under no circumstances may you attempt to physically remove the tenant. That is the job of an authorized officer of the court.

Purpose of an eviction notice

An eviction notice accomplishes two things:

  1. It begins (but does not complete) the eviction process*; and
  2. It creates a written record of the notification of the eviction and of the tenant’s opportunity to resolve the outlined issue(s) to avoid eviction.

*As mentioned above, an eviction notice only begins the eviction process. The procedures and timing to complete an eviction vary by state. You can find much of the state-specific information on eviction completion here.

What are the Components of an Eviction Notice?

Be sure to take a look at our sample eviction notice form, but remember that all eviction notices should include the basics of who, what, where, when, and why. It must also be in compliance with state and, possibly, city laws.

  1. Who is involved in this process?
    • Tenant
    • Landlord
  2. Why is the tenant being evicted?
    • Failure to pay rent
    • Lease violation (list the specific clause or clauses violated by the tenant)
    • Other
  3. Where is the property involved?
    • Full address of the property
  4. What should/can be done to resolve this matter?
    • How can the tenant avoid eviction? By what date must the matter be resolved?
  5. When must the tenant vacate?
    • When does the resolution period begin (i.e. “notice date”)?
    • When must the tenant resolve or leave the property (i.e. deadline”)?

What are the Legal Considerations of an Eviction Notice?

An eviction notice is always the first step in legally terminating a tenant. If you are a landlord, you are not allowed to kick out tenants without first delivering an official eviction notice. The legal details of an eviction notice vary from state to state (and sometimes even from city to city within a state); however, there are a few legal considerations every landlord should take into account.

Time allowances

When you issue an eviction notice, you must provide the tenant with a time by which they need to vacate the premises or cure the defect that caused the issuance of the notice. Normally, this ranges between 3 days and 60 days, depending on the reason for the eviction. You should consult your state law for this information or talk with a landlord-tenant lawyer in the state where the property is located.

Confirmation

To ensure that the tenant could in no way argue that they were unaware of the impending eviction, be sure to include a clause and a signature line mentioned above. Also, follow state law for proper and effective service. You may not be legally allowed to serve the tenant. You may need to pay for a private process server, or you can also call the county sheriff’s office to find out if they will affect service on your behalf. Another very effective way to serve an official notice is to serve the eviction letter via certified mail with a return receipt. This provides you with signed proof that the tenant received the notice. After the receipt, you may place the official notice of eviction on a conspicuous place, such as the front door or garage (however, it is imperative that you check with your local laws to see if this method is permissible in your area).

What is the eviction process

The eviction process is the legal process in the state where the property is located that allows a landlord or property management company to force the tenant to vacate the property. The path from a signed lease agreement to an eviction notice varies and consists of various disputes between landlord and tenant.

After an eviction notice is issued and if the tenant doesn’t meet the requests in it, the eviction process proceeds as follows:

  • A complaint is filed in court. The landlord files the complaint and the court sets a date for the hearing. Depending on where the property is located, you may be required to file the complaint in housing court or you may use the district court. Next, the tenant is served a summons along with a copy of the complaint filed with the court. The tenant can either respond to the summons, agree to vacate, or contest the eviction and appear in court.
  • Court appearance. If the tenant decides to contest the eviction, both the landlord and tenant appear in court and argue their case in front of a judge.
  • Judge rules on eviction. The presiding judge can either rule in favor of the landlord and confirm the eviction or in favor of the tenant.
    • If the judge rules in favor of the landlord, the tenant must vacate by the assigned date. Failure to do so means the sheriff will escort them from the property and the locks may be changed by the landlord to prevent the tenant from re-entering the premises.
    • If the judge rules in favor of the tenant, the tenant stays in the residence.

Are all evictions lawful?

Absolutely not. In fact, tenants have resources in many states that allow them to determine if they are being lawfully evicted. They have legal remedies they may pursue if they are the victim of an illegal eviction.

Here are some common forms of unlawful evictions:

  1. Retaliatory eviction. It is illegal for landlords to evict a tenant for reporting code violations to the building inspector or looking for other rentals.
  2. No-Fault eviction. Again, this varies by city, but many cities require “cause” to evict a tenant before the end of their lease. If a tenant is being evicted without cause with time remaining on their lease, they may talk with a landlord-tenant attorney or research no-fault eviction laws to determine if they have a legal remedy they may pursue.
  3. Excessive rent. A landlord cannot require a tenant to pay more than the amount of rent contractually owed.
  4. Domestic violence. Again, this varies by state and sometimes by city, but a landlord generally may not evict victims of domestic violence solely on the basis that such incidents disrupt neighbors, cause excessive noise, etc.
  5. Discrimination. It is unlawful for landlords to evict a tenant because of their race, gender, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual identity, family status, disability, marital status, veteran status, etc.
  6. Implied warranty of habitability. Landlords must provide tenants with a hospitable place to live that includes running water, heat (in cold areas) or air conditioning (in desert areas), etc. Much like a retaliatory eviction, tenants may not be evicted from the premises of the property becomes uninhabitable and they report it as such.

The Tenant and Landlord’s Guide to Evictions

Introduction

This is a guide designed to provide all of the requisite information to landlords AND tenants regarding eviction notices. What follows is a detailed overview that explains what an eviction notice is, what purpose it serves, the different types of eviction, the types of eviction, laws related to the eviction process, as well as specific information for landlords AND tenants issuing or facing eviction notices. Our goal is that any person--tenant or landlord--dealing with an eviction notice (i.e. either issuing or receiving one) can turn to this guide to both educate themselves about the laws pertaining to eviction and find resources to help them navigate the process. [editorial intro]

Eviction Information for Tenants

Types of eviction

In this section, we’re going to look at the most common reasons why evictions occur.

Pay Rent or Quit/Vacate: Sometimes referred to as a Notice to Vacate or Notice to Quit. This is used when a tenant doesn’t pay their rent. The "pay or vacate" eviction notice gives the tenant a set amount of time* to pay their outstanding rent or vacate the property.

  1. *State laws prohibit a landlord from evicting tenants immediately in this situation. State laws require landlords to give a minimum amount of time (Some states allow as little as a 3-day notice, while others require a 30-day notice, however, this varies from state-to-state) for the tenant to pay their overdue rent before facing eviction.
  2. Cure or Quit Notice, or “Lease Violation”: Cure or Quit notices are common among tenants who violate the terms of their lease. Examples of violations include, but are not limited to, having unapproved tenants or pets living in the residence, damage to the property, making unapproved changes to the property (paint, flooring, etc.), or conducting illegal activity in the property (e.g. selling drugs). Cure or Quit notices require tenants to resolve, or “cure” the issue(s) at hand or face eviction.
    • State law dictates the minimum amount of time tenants have to cure or resolve their violations. Be sure to consult with a landlord-tenant attorney to learn the proper amount of time needed for this eviction notice.
  3. Unconditional Quit Notices: Common among tenants who repeatedly violate the terms of their lease agreement or have fallen behind on rent on multiple occasions. This eviction notice is also typically used when tenants commit a gross violation of the terms of their lease. Such violations may include, but are not limited to:
  4. Serious damage to the property;
  5. Tenant commits a serious criminal act on the property.
    • State law dictates the minimum amount of time tenants have to vacate their property after the issuance of an Unconditional Quit. Be sure to talk with an attorney so that you don’t violate the law in your state.

Most common reasons for an eviction

Here are the five most common reasons a tenant receives an eviction notice:

  1. Unpaid rent
  2. Lease violation (i.e. damage to property, repeated noise complaints, unapproved tenants, unapproved pets, etc.)
  3. End a month-to-month lease: Landlords want to end a monthly agreement in search of a long-term lease.
  4. Lease expires
  5. Unwanted roommate: Most common when a landlord lives in the property, rents rooms to roommates, and decides they no longer want roommates or a particular roommate.

What do I do if I receive an eviction notice?

First, please understand that this is in no way legal advice. This guide is meant solely as an educational resource. For legal advice related to your eviction, contact the housing agency or a landlord-tenant lawyer in your state. While a notice of eviction only begins the eviction process, it is important not to ignore it. Remember, your landlord must secure a court order in order to actually evict you. If you receive a notice of eviction you should proceed as follows:

1. Speak with your landlord ASAP: If a dispute between your landlord and yourself is the cause of the eviction, perhaps there is a way to mediate the problem and convince your landlord to allow you to stay.

  • If, for example, your eviction notice is the result of a late rent payment, explain why you were delinquent and how you are confident you will be able to pay your rent on time in the future.
  • If, on the other hand, the eviction is the result of damage to the property, perhaps you can offer a solution to repair or replace the damaged property. Perhaps you can repay your landlord in installments.

Remember, resolving the situation without the assistance of lawyers and courts is the cheapest option available to you and your landlord; this avoids court costs as well as stressful eviction proceedings.

2. Hire an attorney. If you cannot reach a resolution with your landlord, hire a lawyer. It is important you have a legal expert to guide you through the eviction process. This will help you protect your legal rights and exercise the legal options that you may have available.

  • What if I can’t afford a lawyer? Many lawyers have creative or incentive-laden payment plans to offer. There are even times in court when a landlord may be ordered to pay your legal fees. Other attorneys may offer installment plans. Either way, it is important to have an expert on your side.
  • Be sure, however, to have a detailed conversation with any lawyer about payment before hiring them. This way, you will know exactly what the process will cost you.

3. Consult the appropriate government agencies. Many state and local governments offer free services and resources for tenants facing evictions. For example, the Legal Services Corporation is “an independent nonprofit established by Congress in 1974 to provide financial support for civil legal aid to low-income Americans.” LSC funds over 100 legal aid non-profits in every state, Washington DC, and US territory. In early 2018, New York City became the first city to guarantee access to legal counsel for all low-income residents facing eviction. Some places to look for such resources are (the provided links are for the city of Los Angeles and the state of California):

4. Research nonprofits. There are many nonprofit organizations that offer services for tenants facing eviction. Depending on your situation, you may even qualify for free or reduced fees. Some places to find such organizations include:

  • Legal aid organizations
  • Local housing clinics
  • Tenant’s rights organizations
  • Local law schools

5. Represent yourself in court. If you do so, be sure to collect all documents, photos, and information that may help explain or support your case to the judge. You must prepare before you appear in court. You should also practice giving a short and clear explanation of your side of the story. Judges typically have large caseloads and are looking to move through cases as fast as they can while providing both sides with their opportunity to speak. Being prepared and able to clearly and concisely explain your side of the story gives you the best chance at winning your case. Be sure to also remember to:

  • Always address the judge as “Your Honor”
  • Enunciate and speak clearly and confidently
  • Dress professionally. Always be courteous to your landlord and their reputation. Yelling or taking an argumentative tone, no matter how upset you are, will not help your case.

Are there other consequences related to an eviction?

Unfortunately, yes. Evictions may show up on your credit report and remain for a period of seven years. Additionally, evictions may also appear on background checks, which can make it harder for you to find a place to lease in the future.

Additional Resources for Tenants

To find a tenant association or similar organization in your area, perform an Internet search with your state (or city and state) along with the words “tenant association.” Below you’ll find more information and a couple of links to get you started.

You can find housing information, including what you need to know as a tenant, in each state by visiting HUD’s website and choosing your state: https://www.hud.gov/states

Eviction Information for Landlords

Why do I need to send an eviction notice?

First, eviction notices are legally required. Additionally, the eviction process begins with a Notice of Eviction. It is designed to protect the legal rights of both landlord and tenant.

How do I write an eviction notice?

This is discussed in the text above. However, your eviction notice should conform with the state, and possibly city laws where the property is located.

How do I deliver the eviction notice?

Ideally, an eviction notice should be delivered by the landlord or someone authorized to act on the landlord’s behalf. However, some states do not allow the landlord to serve the notice. They must use a professional. Preferably, the notice is handed directly to the tenant; however, if they do not answer the door, it should be placed in a highly visible place. The traditional spot is on the front door, though be sure you use good thumbtacks or adhesive!

What if I don’t send a notice to my tenants?

You can get in serious legal trouble if you don’t send the notice to your tenant. Without an eviction notice, you cannot legally begin the process of removing a tenant from your property. Pursuing an eviction without a proper notice is illegal. It will likely put you, the landlord, on the hook for thousands of extra dollars in eviction-related costs, which include:

  1. Damages incurred by the tenant:
    • Costs of temporary housing;
    • Moving costs;
    • Replacing damaged furniture and other belongings in the moving process;
    • Your tenant’s attorney fees to contest the unlawful eviction.
  2. Fines/penalties.
    • Many states fine landlords for each day from the unlawful eviction until the legal resolution is determined.
    • Landlord legal fees.
      1. In addition to covering the legal fees of your tenant, you’ll also have to pay for your own attorney.
    • Additional costs.
      1. A court may require you to compensate your tenant for time missed from work to attend court.
      2. You may also be held accountable for any damages caused by emotional and psychological pain/ or other damages associated with the eviction of your tenant.

It is imperative, that you always follow the law when it comes to evictions. A notice of eviction is the first, and, in many ways, the most important step in this process. Be sure that you not only issue an eviction notice, but you do so properly. Even the smallest technical error on a landlord’s part can provide a judge with legal grounds to dismiss the eviction complaint and force the landlord to restart the entire process.

Ensuring proper documentation

Ensuring that you have the proper documentation related to the reason you’re issuing the eviction notice is the best way to avoid costly penalties. Make sure that you have the following information to support your position in court:

  1. Completed rental applications
  2. Late rent notices for each instance of overdue rent or late payment
  3. Notice of lease violation to document each instance in which a tenant must “cure” an issue
  4. Notice of termination if you decide not to renew a tenant’s lease
  5. Notice of rent increase if you plan to raise the rent
  6. Notice of landlord entry if you need access to the property for any reason

Properly documenting your relationship and interactions with your tenants will ensure that you do not put yourself in legal jeopardy should you end up in a court dispute with your tenant.

Additional Resources for Landlords

To learn more about apartment associations for landlords, you can look for both national and state-specific resources. For state-specific resources, perform an Internet search with your state along with the phrases “apartment association” or “landlord association.” Here are some links to help you get started:

As a landlord, it’s imperative that you know state and federal laws related to rental property. The key is to understand the law for the state in which the property is located. You can find links to appropriate housing law by visiting the HUD website and choosing the state: https://www.hud.gov/states

Conclusion

Whether you are facing an eviction notice or considering issuing one, we encourage you to use this guide throughout the process. It’s designed to inform BOTH tenants and landlords about the legal procedures that guide the eviction process in order to ensure that both parties are able to pursue any and all options to either avoid or execute an eviction in a manner that not only (and most importantly) lawful, but also respectful and in a manner that limits financial costs.

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