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Making an Eviction Notice
While state laws vary, most legal eviction processes begin with an Eviction Notice. If your tenant has violated their Lease Agreement by not paying rent or otherwise not upholding the lease terms, you can use an Eviction Notice to warn the tenant that you will take legal action to remove them if they fail to comply with the terms of the lease. It is important to note that this document by itself cannot force renters to move. You still need a court order to evict a tenant legally. An Eviction Notice form may also be called an Eviction Letter, Notice to Vacate Letter, or Notice to Quit.
If this is your first time initiating an eviction, you may want to talk to a lawyer about the best course of action for your situation. Generally speaking, by keeping good records and filing paperwork properly, your experience removing a tenant can be much less stressful. Learn more about how to use our free Eviction Notice template, what to include, and how to protect your rights as a landlord or property manager.
No matter how frustrated you may be, you should not try to remove a tenant without the proper legal action and paperwork. It is important to carefully document your communications and operate fully within the law. If you go rogue and take illegal actions such as turning off utilities, changing locks without a court order, or entering a unit without proper notice, you might end up on the losing side of a court battle. You will also want to refrain from excessive phone calls, text messages, or notes because it could be considered harassment. It is best that you work with a lawyer and follow the formal eviction process.
When properly drafted, an Eviction Notice letter can help protect you as a landlord or property manager by:
Even if you do not have a written lease in place, it is still critical to follow the formal legal process starting with an Eviction Notice.
Normally, yes, and you may draft an Eviction Notice to initiate the process. However, due to the pandemic, there are a few special protections in place for tenants who cannot pay rent. Although the federal ban on eviction was struck down by the Supreme Court, state and municipal governments across the country have the authority to maintain their own regulations for evictions. Keep up with the most recent developments for each state or ask a local lawyer for more specific input.
Please note that in many states, it is within a tenant's rights to withhold or deduct rent if the landlord is not fulfilling their contractual obligation to keep the property habitable and safe. If you find yourself in this situation, it is recommended that you speak with a lawyer.
Some common reasons to evict a tenant include:
It is important to note that state or local laws may limit a landlord’s ability to evict a tenant in many circumstances. For example, in areas with rent control, or strong renter protections, tenants may only be evicted for certain reasons, such as not paying rent, violating the law, or causing a nuisance. You can learn more here.
The amount of notice that landlords are required to give varies based on state law. There can also be different notice periods for nonpayment of rent compared to other lease violations. In a few states, no notice may be required for certain types of evictions, however, using the legal court process is still required. Typically, the eviction notice period can range between 3 and 30 days depending on the state, with the most common times being 3, 5, or 7 days. When you make an Eviction Notice with Rocket Lawyer, your document will automatically be populated with the legal notice period required in your state.
Depending on the state and on the terms of the Lease Agreement, there may be additional rules regarding how long the rent must be overdue before an Eviction Notice can be delivered. As housing laws can vary by locality, it is important to talk to a lawyer to understand what laws apply to your specific situation.
Generally, yes. When making an Eviction Notice, a landlord may provide tenants with more time than required by law. The time required by each state is typically a minimum, meaning that a landlord may provide more time if they so choose.
Landlords may also delay filing an eviction lawsuit in court to provide the tenant more time to move out or fix whatever issue prompted the Eviction Notice. This can often be the result of negotiating with a tenant after providing an Eviction Notice. Long delays or failed negotiations, however, may require restarting the process and sending a new Eviction Notice.
In most cases, you can evict month-to-month without cause. You'll need to verify the local requirements, but in most areas, you can serve a 30- or 60-day notice of termination. Before you deliver the notice, verify that the original lease did not automatically roll over into a new rental contract. If an active Lease Agreement still exists, you will need to comply with the terms of that lease.
If the rental is located in a rent-controlled area, you may not be able to evict without cause. This can include nonpayment of rent, causing a nuisance, and other significant problems. If your rental is located in an area with strong renter protections, you may want to speak with a lawyer before starting the eviction process.
When a tenant does not leave after a Lease Agreement expires or after a Notice of Non-Renewal, they are called a holdover tenant. If you do not plan on renewing a lease, you need to provide your tenant with a Notice of Non-Renewal within a certain amount of time. The amount of time depends on the location of the property and often how long the tenant has lived in the unit. If the tenant does not vacate before the end of that time, then a landlord can start the eviction process. Depending on your state or local law, before filing in court, you may be required to send an Eviction Notice after a Notice of Non-Renewal does not prompt a tenant to vacate.
In most states, if a tenant does not leave after a lease ends, and the landlord does nothing, the lease will either automatically become a month-to-month lease, or it may renew for the same amount of time as the original Lease Agreement, under the same terms.
Generally speaking, no. A landlord cannot be awarded a court order for possession of a property if any tenants will continue to reside there. It is important to name all of the tenants in your Eviction Notice so that the court can grant you full possession of the property. Failure to name all of the tenants could result in a dismissal of your case.
If an individual tenant is causing problems for other tenants, there may be other legal options to remove that tenant. These situations can be legally complex, so it may be best to work with a lawyer.
Luckily, you do not need to start from scratch when making an Eviction Notice. With Rocket Lawyer, you can make an Eviction Notice online with ease. Your document will be built step by step as you enter information. This route is often notably less time-consuming than hiring a private lawyer. As a Rocket Lawyer Premium member, you can easily get your notice reviewed by a lawyer, ask questions about the process, edit and make duplicate copies of your letter. You can also download it in PDF or Word format and print it anytime.
When ready, you can click the "Make document" button to check out our Eviction Notice sample and preview the questions that you will need to answer to make your document. You usually should organize these critical details for an Eviction Notice:
Addresses - Addresses of the rental property and landlord or property management company.
Tenant names - Every tenant listed on the Lease Agreement, pays rent, or lives there must be included in the notice.
Status and date of lease - Whether the lease is still active or not, or if there is a lease at all.
The reason that the notice is being served - Landlords should always refer to state laws regarding evictions to make sure they have a legally valid reason to evict a tenant. The reason for the eviction will determine the type of notice being delivered.
Notice period - The Eviction Notice should clearly spell out how much time the tenant has to resolve the situation before further legal action is taken.
Proof of service - The landlord may decide to include a proof of service to officially document when and how the Eviction Notice was delivered to the tenant.
Remember, you will need to confirm that any policies and terms referred to in the Eviction Notice are actually present in the fully executed rental contract.
It depends. While you may prefer to draft a Notice of Eviction by yourself, the majority of property owners who end up going to court have a lawyer present. When you sign up for a Premium Membership, you can ask any specific legal questions or have an attorney review your Eviction Notice before you sign it.
There are several scenarios, where you might prefer to work with a lawyer. If this is your first eviction or if you expect that your tenant will have legal representation, it is strongly recommended that you hire an attorney. If the tenant is filing for bankruptcy, if they are an employee of yours (like an on-site property manager), or if the unit is rent-controlled, it may also be in your best interest to seek legal guidance.
Making an Eviction Notice with Rocket Lawyer is free, however, there may be other fees associated with the rest of the eviction process, such as court costs. The cost associated with hiring a traditional legal provider to evict a tenant could total anywhere between hundreds of dollars and thousands. With Rocket Lawyer, any landlord or property manager with a Premium Membership can take advantage of up to a 40% discount when hiring an On Call attorney.
When considering the cost of eviction, you will also need to account for court fees and process server or certified mail fees (if applicable), as well as the cost of a locksmith, movers, or storage. Outside of immediate monetary costs, eviction can also be stressful and time-consuming, so it is often ideal that you invest in better tenant screening upfront to avoid potential problems with renters in the future.
Legal fees for eviction are a tax-deductible business expense for landlords, so be sure to keep your invoices and talk to an accountant or CPA, if you have questions.
Each completed Eviction Notice form comes with a Make It Legal™ checklist of the actions you need to take to finalize your document. Your checklist will be specific to the state that your property is located in. Here are a few general next steps:
Ask a lawyer - Since eviction is a complex process with strict rules that vary by state, it is highly recommended that you work with a lawyer to review your approach. With Rocket Lawyer, you can ask a question about your Eviction Notice, and an On Call attorney will reply with a personal response. Most questions are answered within 4 business hours. As a Premium member, you also have access to document review and a free 30 minute consultation on each new legal matter. Premium members who need more help can save up to 40% on legal fees when hiring a lawyer from our network.
Make It Legal™ - You will need to sign the Eviction Notice before it is served on the tenant(s).
Serve the Eviction Notice - Your local housing laws will dictate how you need to serve the notice. It is critical to understand exactly what delivery methods are legal in your state, since failure to follow the law can lead to the dismissal of your case. If you are unsure, ask a lawyer.
It is important to remember that "do-it-yourself" or "self-help" evictions are not legal. Property owners must use the legal eviction process to remove tenants from a rental property. Even after a court orders an eviction, landlords should not turn off utilities and services, padlock entrances, move property, or attempt to force or intimidate tenants in any way in an effort to make them move out. After winning an eviction case in court, landlords may request law enforcement do the physical act of removing tenants. Acting lawfully leading up to and throughout the eviction proceedings will give you the best chance of removing tenants successfully with an official judgment from the court.
As you prepare to file for an eviction, it is always a good idea to work with a lawyer. An attorney with experience in evictions can help make sure you follow local laws and processes. In order to assemble all of your records for your lawyer, you may want to fill out an Eviction Process Worksheet. This document provides basic information about your tenant and their violation(s) of your rental agreement. You can also attach documentation, including a copy of the lease, photographs of the damage, repair estimates, written statements of witnesses, police reports, and other documents to support your case. Outside of reviewing your Eviction Notice letter, your lawyer can help you prepare and defend your case once it goes in front of a judge.
If you need to move forward with legal action after delivering the Eviction Notice, you will need to file your lawsuit properly with the local courts. The local government website or a local lawyer can tell you which documents you will need to file and what the fees might be. A local lawyer with experience in evictions can help you navigate the process efficiently.
Yes. Simply select your state from the menu above, or choose a specific state from the list below:
Last reviewed or updated 01/15/2022