As a landlord, one of the most unpleasant parts of your job is evicting a tenant.
Unfortunately, more landlords are having to figure out how to evict a tenant, with up to 40 million Americans facing eviction in 2020.
Regardless of how open-and-shut your case may seem, you need to ensure it’s legally binding. That begins with your eviction notice. Here’s how to write one and what you can expect from the eviction process.
Types of Eviction Notice
While every state has different rules for eviction notices, there are three common terms that all landlords should be familiar with:
- Notice to quit
- Notice to cure or quit
- Notice to pay or quit
Each of these terms indicates three different notices.
Notice-to-quit letters are for issues that the tenant will not have the chance to remedy. These are usually used in the case of repeat or severe violations. Notice-to-cure-or-quit is more moderate, when the tenant is given the opportunity to fix the violation in a set number of days. Notice-to-pay-or-quit is used when the tenant owes you rent, and you can evict them if they do not pay within the given time period.
There are also some cases where the landlord can terminate the lease without cause. This is only possible if spelled out in your rental contract, though it typically does not apply to tenants in a fixed-term lease. This type of eviction is more commonly seen in month-to-month or similar short-term rental agreements. In those cases, the landlord can terminate the agreement without cause as long as they notify the tenant in the legally required number of days.
Most of the time, however, you need a valid legal reason for evicting a tenant.
How to Write an Eviction Notice
When writing an eviction notice, your safest bet is to work with an eviction lawyer to make sure the document is legally sound. Either way, here are a few things you need to include in the notice:
- A specific date for the tenant to remedy the issue or terminate the lease
- The exact terms tenants need to meet in order to remedy the issue
- The amount the tenant owes (if they are behind on rent)
The good news is that the document itself is fairly simple. You would need an eviction lawyer to help guide you through everything else, since the eviction notice is the first step in the eviction process.
How to File an Eviction Notice
As you might guess, each unique notice has a required number of days. If you don’t give sufficient notice, the tenant may mount a defense against their eviction.
As for delivering the notice, you don’t file it with a court. The tenant is the one who receives the notice. As a landlord, you have a few options to do this. One option is the use of a process server, a professional service that will handle serving an eviction notice.
However, the most effective option is certified mail with a return receipt. That way, the notice is conspicuously posted on the tenant’s front door or garage.
If the tenant does not resolve the issue, then you have to file your eviction notice with the local courts to enforce the eviction. You’ll need a number of documents to support your case once you go to court, including:
- Lease agreement
- Any bounced checks
- Records of all payments, on-time or late
- Records of communication between you and the tenant
- A copy of the eviction notice
- Proof of when the tenant received the notice (such as a USPS receipt)
Depending on your reason for eviction, you may need additional items. Again, your safest bet is to have an eviction lawyer assist you.
Get the Knowledge You Need Before Evicting a Tenant
While evicting a tenant may be unpleasant, there are times when it is necessary. And when those situations arise, you need to know how to write an eviction notice and navigate the eviction process successfully.
Looking for more legal guidance to manage your legal relationship with your tenants? Make sure to check out our blog for more great tips.