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A New Mexico eviction notice is a written notice given to the tenant to inform them that they violated the lease agreement. It explains how the agreement was violated and how long the tenant has to correct the violation or vacate the property. All New Mexico eviction notices must be written to comply with the landlord-tenant laws of the state. Better known as a notice to quit, a New Mexico eviction notice must be served on the tenant before the landlord may file a lawsuit to regain possession of the property.
Since a New Mexico eviction notice is required for any situation where the landlord needs to evict the tenant (because they cannot file a lawsuit against the tenant without first serving the tenant with this document), it’s important for landlords or their agent to properly draft the notice. Here are the necessary components that should be included:
Service is an important part of the eviction process. An eviction notice must be legally served before a lawsuit may be filed against the tenant. In New Mexico, service occurs by personally serving the tenant, another resident who is at least 15 years old, leaving a copy of the notice on the premises, or by certified mail.
3-Day Notice to Quit for Non-Payment of Rent
A 3-day notice to quit for non-payment of rent is an eviction notice that alerts the tenant to the fact that they did not pay their rent. The tenant is given three days to pay their rent or leave the property. The notice should explain why it was issued (past due rent), the total amount of money owed as rent, how that money should be paid (such as a certified check or money order), and where it should be paid. It must also give the tenant the date by which the tenant must pay or vacate. This eviction notice is governed by § 47-8-33(D).
3-Day Notice to Quit for Substantial Lease Violation
A 3-day notice to quit for a substantial lease violation is used if the tenant has been involved in criminal activity, has hurt someone, or they’ve caused at least $1,000 in damage to the property. This notice gives the tenant three days to vacate the property. They are not given the opportunity to correct the reason that the eviction notice was issued. This is notice to quit should explain the reason it is being issued and include the deadline by which the tenant must vacate the property. This notice is supported by § 47-8-33(I).
7-Day Notice to Quit for Non-Compliance
A 7-day notice to quit for non-compliance is the eviction notice used when the tenant violates the lease in some way that isn’t extreme enough to warrant the use of a 3-day notice to quit for a substantial lease violation or for non-payment of rent. It gives the tenant seven days to correct the violation or vacate the property. This notice should clearly explain how the lease was violated. If the tenant breaks the lease again in the same way within six months, this notice becomes one used for incurable eviction, meaning the tenant does not get the chance to correct the problem a second time. This notice is supported by § 47-8-33.
30-Day Termination of a Month-to-Month Tenancy
A 30-day termination of a month-to-month tenancy isn’t quite the same thing as an eviction notice because the tenant doesn’t have to violate the lease to receive this notice. Either the tenant or the landlord may use this form to inform the other party that they will end the month-to-month tenancy in 30 days. This notice should list the date (30 days) by which the property should be vacated (§ 47-8-37).
In New Mexico, an eviction notice must be legally served on the tenant before the landlord may sue the tenant. Legal service methods a landlord may choose from include personal service on the tenant, serving another resident of the rental unit who is at least 15 years old, attaching the notice to the front door, or using certified mail.
With that being said, a landlord may not remove the belongings of the tenant(s), replace the locks, or shut off the utilities to the property in an attempt to force the tenant to leave. The only way those methods, known as self-help methods, may be used by a landlord is if the landlord first has a court order. Without the court order, those actions are illegal.
It is also illegal for the landlord to evict the tenant for their actual or perceived race, skin color, religious beliefs, country of origin, disability, gender, or family status. Family status includes pregnancy and minor children whether born to the tenants or adopted by the tenants.
Landlords may not evict the tenant because the tenant reports uninhabitable conditions or code violations to the proper housing authorities. Tenants have the legal right (and landlords have the legal obligation) to safe and habitable housing.
If a tenant is the victim of an illegal eviction, they may have the legal right to file a lawsuit against the landlord. They could be entitled to financial damages and to remain on the property. The landlord may also be fined by the court for breaking the law.
Tenants have rights even during the eviction process. Some of your rights may depend on the county where the rental property is located. The New Mexico Department of Health provides a Renter’s Guide in PDF format that you may find helpful.
The landlord may not replace the locks, turn off the utilities, or remove your belongings without first getting a court order. The landlord may not file an eviction lawsuit against you without first serving you with an eviction notice.
When you are served, you should read the notice carefully so that you understand why it was served on you and what your options are. If you receive a 3-day notice to quit for a substantial lease violation, you don’t get the option to correct the violation. You must vacate the property. However, for non-payment of rent or for non-compliance (first offense), you have a certain amount of time to take care of the matter and remain on the property. You can call the landlord or their agent if you have questions about what’s happening.
If you think that you may be the victim of illegal eviction or if you want to talk to a legal professional about your rights and obligations as a renter, you have some options to choose from. The first option is to schedule a consultation with a landlord-tenant lawyer. They can answer your questions and if you do have a legitimate claim for illegal eviction, they can help you take the appropriate next steps.
Your next option is to contact the University of New Mexico School of Law and ask if they have an active legal clinic. Legal clinics allow third-year law students who are almost finished with law school the opportunity to provide legal services to the public while they are supervised by licensed attorneys. These clinics provide low-cost or free help if you meet their intake guidelines.
Your third option is to contact a legal aid office. Legal aid provides low-cost or free legal help to individuals who meet intake guidelines. They also have many helpful resources for renters that you can access regardless of whether you qualify for their help.
Under New Mexico’s landlord-tenant laws, landlords have rights and obligations related to the rental property and the eviction process. Landlords do have the right to evict tenants under certain conditions. However, an eviction notice is a must. It must also be legally served. Landlords may not use self-help methods, such as changing out the locks on the property, unless they’ve been given an order to do so by a judge. Landlords may not evict a tenant for reporting code violations. This is known as retaliatory eviction. Landlords may be sued if they do that. Landlords also may not evict the tenant because of their race, skin color, religion, home country, gender, disability, or because of how their family is or isn’t structured.
If you’re a landlord and you’d like to learn more about the eviction process, make an appointment with a landlord-tenant attorney. They can provide you with valuable insight and help you understand what you can and cannot do.