Eviction Notices and the Eviction Process
Landlords and property managers cannot use self-help to remove a renter from a rental unit. They can't do anything to force a tenant out of a rental unit. They must use the eviction process.
Individual state laws govern tenant evictions and offer tenant protections during the eviction process. Landlords who don't follow these rules risk legal consequences like paying their former tenant damages.
One critical aspect of the eviction process is the eviction notice. The eviction notice starts the process. The notice should contain basic information on the reason for the notice and a deadline to cure the reason for the eviction.
This Findlaw article covers eviction notices, including cure or quit.
Evictions for Cause
Landlords and property managers can evict tenants for cause. Evictions for cause almost always arise from lease violations. Lease and rental agreements are binding contracts, and landlords have options for tenants who don't abide by the terms of the lease.
Examples of lease violations include the following:
- Nonpayment of rent
- Engaging in illegal activity on the rental property
- Ignoring the occupancy clause
- Illegal sublet/sublease
- Behavior that jeopardizes the health and safety of other tenants
If a landlord has a valid reason to evict a tenant, they must issue an eviction notice to start the process.
There are three main types of eviction notices, and they include:
- Pay rent or quit
- Cure or quit
- Unconditional quit notices
Timing of Eviction Notices
State laws usually determine the amount of time a tenant has to vacate a rental unit after receiving an eviction notice. One option is a 3-day notice, often used for egregious lease violations. A second option is a 30-day notice, often used for nonpayment of rent or month-to-month tenancies. A final option is a 60-day notice for tenants on long-term leases (over one year).
Pay Rent or Quit Notices
Landlords often use pay rent or quit notices for nonpayment of rent. These written notices give a tenant a set number of days to pay rent or face an eviction lawsuit. If the tenant pays the rent due and any late fees before the notice expires, they do not have to vacate the rental unit. The landlord can proceed with the eviction if they do not make the past-due rent payment.
Cure or Quit Notices
Landlords use cure or quit notices when a renter violates a term of the lease agreement. For example, they have a pet in a pet-free building or sublease the unit without permission. Like the pay rent or quit notice, this type of eviction notice gives the tenant a set number of days to cure the defect or vacate the rental unit. So, in the earlier examples, the tenant would stop subleasing or get rid of the pet to cure the lease violation.
Unconditional Quit Notices
Unconditional quit notices are often a last resort for tenants and used in specific, often extreme, circumstances.
A few examples of these circumstances include the following:
- The tenant shows a pattern of paying late rent or not paying rent
- The tenant seriously damaged the rental property
- The tenant engaged in dangerous or illegal activity on the property
The type of notice a landlord uses depends on state laws and local ordinances. Any landlord considering eviction proceedings should seek legal advice from a qualified real estate or landlord-tenant attorney first.
Evictions Without Cause
Evictions without cause occur when a landlord evicts a tenant before the expiration of the lease term without a valid reason. A landlord who evicts a tenant without cause breaks the lease agreement and is also vulnerable to a tenant lawsuit. If the tenant prevails, a court can assess damages against the landlord.
Landlords often cannot end a lease without cause in some states and localities with rent-control apartments.
Removing the Tenant
Often, landlords have to get a court order to physically remove a tenant from the rental property through an unlawful detainer suit. If the landlord prevails in this suit, the court will order a writ of possession that allows local law enforcement to remove the tenant from the premises.
Evictions are often costly and time-consuming. Whether you are a landlord or a tenant, a qualified landlord-tenant attorney is an expert in landlord-tenant law and can offer sound legal advice. Speak to an experienced, local landlord-tenant attorney today.
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