The Landlord's Complete Guide to Eviction Notices

No one enjoys the eviction process, but it’s an unfortunate necessity once you’ve exhausted all other options to resolve important issues with your renter. For example, if they’ve failed to pay rent or violated the terms of their written lease agreement, you may consider evicting them to cease their occupancy.

An eviction notice is the first step in this process. If the tenant does not comply with your eviction notice, you can file an eviction lawsuit and have a hearing before a judge – though a court hearing isn’t the ideal way to spend your day. Between the expensive court costs and the amount of time the eviction process consumes, you might feel disheartened and discouraged if things don’t go your way.

To boost your chances for success, we’ll walk you through the eviction notice process, from what happens and when to the highlights of related laws and legislation.

What Is an Eviction Notice?

An eviction notice is the document landlords must fill out to initiate an eviction of a tenant. It’s a formal letter that lists the reasons that the landlord believes they can legally evict the tenant. Eviction notices are required by law in all states. Each state has its own requirements for eviction documentation, so it’s important to read the rules carefully before choosing which type of notice to use.

There are three kinds of eviction notices, including:

  1. Pay or quit: Requires the tenant to either pay their rent in full or vacate within a certain amount of time.
  2. Unconditional quit: Requires the tenant to vacate within a certain period of time without any opportunity for discussion.
  3. Notice to comply or quit: Gives the tenant a certain amount of time to fix the issue at hand (such as excessive noise), and if they don’t comply within that time frame, they will be given an unconditional quit notice.

Note that keeping good documentation, like a copy of the notice, will help you to protect yourself should you need to evict a tenant. Eviction notices should be used carefully and as a last resort.

Common Reasons Why Tenants Are Evicted

When you’re a landlord, you want to ensure that your rental units are kept up, your tenants are paying the rent on time, and they’re not causing any problems. It’s nice to maintain tenancy, but you have to be ready to evict renters if they’re not abiding by your lease and causing issues.

There are many reasons why landlords evict tenants. The following are some of the most common reasons why tenants get evicted:

  • Payment issues/nonpayment of rent: If you have a problem with your tenant not paying rent on time or at all, this could lead to an eviction.
  • Property damage: If your tenant damages your property, it’s often grounds for eviction.
  • Keeping pets: If your lease does not allow pets and your tenant has one anyway, this can lead to an eviction notice if it becomes a problem for other tenants or neighbors.
  • Illegal activity: Committing a crime on the property (e.g., drug dealing) violates most if not all lease agreements.
  • Anti-social behavior: Disorderly conduct causing disruption/nuisance in the building or neighborhood, such as fighting or excessive noise.

Depending on your state’s laws, this may not be a good cause for eviction unless it directly affects other residents living in your building.

You can also evict the tenant for any other reason stated by law or even the breach of terms of the lease (i.e., a lease violation).

Landlord-Tenant Laws Regarding Eviction

The best landlords stay up to date on their local landlord-tenant laws, and that goes double when your tenant violates their rental agreement.

Landlord-tenant laws differ from state to state and even city to city. In some states, landlords must give tenants written notice before they can evict them; others require only oral notice. Some states have strict rules about what kinds of evictions are allowed, while others have lax ones. And this is just the tip of the iceberg!

We recommend visiting our state-by-state guide for more specific information about your area. This free resource provides detailed information on landlord-tenant laws in every state so you can make informed decisions when it comes to handling tough situations with your renter.

How Long Does the Eviction Process Take?

The eviction process is complicated, and it’s not always easy to know how long it will take. There are many factors at play here. For instance, if the renter has been paying rent on time and is otherwise a good tenant, you may want to avoid court eviction proceedings altogether. In that case, explore other options, such as a cash-for-keys solution, asking the tenant to pay late fees (only if late fees are outlined in your lease), or working out a payment plan for the money owed.

After all, the eviction process can take anywhere from one week to six months (or more), depending on how long it takes for the tenant to respond to the notices.

Each state has its own provisions on how much notice tenants must receive. Some have 3-day notices, while others demand 7-day notices, 30-day notices, or more. It’s also important to note that defaulting one month’s rent payment doesn’t warrant an eviction in many states. However, failing to pay regularly or delay of normally two months or more warrants eviction action in most states.

If the tenant does not respond to the eviction notice, you can file a complaint with the court and request that they schedule a hearing for a court order to kick off eviction procedures. Be sure to liaise with your lawyer for legal advice before taking any action against your tenant – they can advise whether or not it’s worth serving or filing for an eviction case, particularly since there will be a filing fee, detainer, and other legal services charges that quickly add up.

How Do I Write an Eviction Notice?

While eviction notice forms may be available from the court in some states, it’s still worth knowing how to write one since it can save you time and costs of having an attorney write it for you. A proper notice should include the following information:

  • The date of the notice sent through certified mail
  • The name of the tenant, their phone number, and the address of the rental property (including the unit number as applicable)
  • An explanation outlining why you are serving them with an eviction notice (e.g., failure to pay rent)
  • The amount of rent due along with any other charges
  • The date on which the notice will expire, also known as the notice period (e.g., two weeks after being served)
  • How and where the tenant should pay the amount owed
  • An explanation of what will happen if they do not move out within the specified days (e.g., legal action will begin, in which case you’ll need to provide the court date)
  • Your signature or the signature of your process server (a professional who serves legal documents to defendants named in a court proceeding)

If you want to keep your tenants happy and avoid headaches, make sure you have the right tools in place before they get into trouble with their rent. Sign up for TurboTenant Premium to get access to your legal documents, professional state-specific lease agreement templates, and more!

Learn More About State-Specific Eviction Laws

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