The eviction notice is a document a landlord gives a tenant that says they must either pay the rent, fix a situation, or move out. Under some circumstances, it can just be a notice for the tenant to move out without the landlord giving any reason. Landlords can say a lot in eviction notices, but the main thing is giving a deadline, usually to pay the rent, and sometimes to fix other situations, such as getting rid of pets or unauthorized roommates.
If the tenant moves out no lawsuit is necessary. But if the tenant refuses to move out, they may face a court hearing in which the landlord tries to evict the tenant under the law. The landlord must not try to force a tenant out by changing locks or cutting utilities. Only sheriff’s deputies, with valid court orders, may force a tenant of the property.
These “self-help” evictions (changing locks, etc.) are illegal, and the tenant can turn the tables and sue the landlord if they try it.
Eviction may be total or partial
Total eviction may take place if the landlord is deprived of all of his rights in the premises. For example, the tenant did bad damage to the landlord’s property. Partial eviction takes place once the landlord is deprived of only some of his rights, and they could be restored. For example, the tenant could pay back rent he owes or kicks out a roommate if he has too many.
A partial eviction is also actual or constructive
Actual eviction is where the tenant and their possessions are physically moved out or barred from the property.
Constructive eviction is “wrongful interference” that seriously impairs the tenant’s enjoyment of the premises. For instance, in one Massachusetts case, when a landlord built a permanent structure that rendered two rooms within the rented house unfit for use, this was held to be a constructive eviction. It was illegal.
However, keep in mind that the only time a legal eviction happens is when a landlord uses a courtroom legal eviction process and has obtained a court judgment against the tenant. It is a lawful eviction — and this type of legal judgment can show up in a public records search with various kinds of background checks.
It usually happens that the landlord has a valid reason to remove the tenant. Most of the reasons for eviction involve breaking key terms of the lease, late or non-payment of rent, etc. and this could lead the landlord to pursue a judicial writ for the eviction.
Landlords need to follow a particular process before they legally force a tenant’s physical removal from the premises. Sheriff’s deputies or police carry out the physical eviction.
States determine the eviction process
State laws lay out the necessities to end a residency. Different types of termination notices are needed for different kinds of things. Every state has its procedures on how termination notices and eviction papers should be written and served on (legally delivered to) the tenant.
A landlord cannot start an eviction suit without first serving notice he wants to evict the tenant. The tenant eviction notice is written as specified by state statute. If the tenant does not move or reform — for instance, by paying the rent or finding a replacement home for the dog, the landlord could file a suit to evict. This lawsuit is known as an unlawful detainer, or UD, lawsuit.
The eviction letter, or eviction notice
Although Eviction notices (see the various types of California eviction notices at the link) vary from state to state, there are three basic types for reasons of tenant misbehaviour:
- Pay Rent or Quit Notices are generally used once the tenant has not paid the rent. They provide the tenant some days (three to five in most states) to pay the rent or move out.
- Cure or Quit Notices are generally given when a tenant violates a term or condition of the lease or rental agreement, like a no-pets clause or the need to refrain from creating excessive noise. Usually, the tenant has a set length of time within which to correct or “cure” the violation. A tenant who fails to do so, therefore, should move out (quit) or face the possibility of an eviction suit.
- Unconditional Quit Notices are the harshest of all. They order the tenant to vacate the premises with no possibility to pay the rent or fix a lease or rental agreement violation. In most states, unconditional quit notices are allowed only if the tenant has:
- Continually violated a significant clause of the lease or rental agreement
- Been late rent with more than one time
- Done major damage the premises, or
- Has engaged in serious criminal activity, like dealing drugs on the premises.
However, in some states, landlords could use Unconditional Quit Notices for transgressions that would need Pay or Quit in many tenant-friendly states. In these strict states, landlords could extend second possibilities if they wish, but no law requires them to do so.