Eviction Notice

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An eviction notice is a letter sent by a landlord to a tenant to inform them that they must fix a certain problem or vacate the property within a certain number of days.  Eviction notices are usually sent if the tenant has failed to pay rent, but are also used if the tenant has violated the terms of the lease agreement.

In some cases, the landlord may believe the problem is not fixable and send what’s known as an incurable eviction notice. In this case, the tenant has no choice but to vacate the property within a certain number of days.

It’s also important to note that each state has it’s own laws and requirements for eviction notices, so you may need a notice specific to your state, which you can find below.

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1. What is an Eviction Notice?

An eviction notice is a formal letter from the Landlord to the Tenant and officially explains:

1. The Tenant must fix or “cure” the problem;


2. The Tenant must MOVE OUT by a certain date;


3. The Tenant and Landlord may need to go to court to continue the eviction process.

The notice serves as a written record that the Landlord properly notified the Tenant of a problem and gave them a chance to solve the problem.

The notice BEGINS the eviction process, which varies widely state by state.

What are other names for an eviction notice?

As a reference, there are three kinds of notices:

1. Pay Rent or Quit Notices (“Failure to Pay Rent”) 

The Tenant has 3 to 5 days (but check your local housing laws) to pay rent or leave.

notice requirement for failure to pay rent
State Distribution: # of Days Notice Required for Pay Rent or Quit

Most state eviction laws agree that Tenants should pay their rent on time. More than a third of the states require Landlords to give a minimum 3-day eviction notice when rent is late or overdue, while almost a quarter of the states require a minimum of 5-days, and only six states require 7-days.

Three states require a 10-day notice for late rent (Indiana, North Carolina, Pennsylvania), while another three states require a minimum of 14-days (Massachusetts, Tennessee, Vermont).

The District of Columbia (D.C.) provides the most generous amount of time to Tenants and requires a minimum of 30-days notice.

Of note, six states empower Landlords and Tenants to decide on the notice requirements and refer Landlords back to the original lease or rental agreement.

2. Cure or Quit Notices (“Lease Violation”)

The Tenant has a certain amount of time to correct or “cure” a problem like violating a no smoking or no pet policy. Otherwise, they must leave or “quit” the Premises.

notice requirement for lease violations
State Distribution: # of Days Notice Required for Lease Violations

States vary widely on the minimum number of days a Landlord should give Tenants to cure the default (i.e., no longer violate a provision of the lease).

If a Tenant has broken one of their promises in the lease agreement, nine states require that Landlords give Tenants a minimum 3-day eviction notice. Interestingly, eight states do not require a minimum notice since the lease already spells out the obligations, and the Tenant is perhaps assumed to break the lease knowingly.

Some states require different notice periods depending on whether the Tenant materially breached the lease agreement. For example, a Tenant engaging in illegal activity like selling drugs would definitely be considered a “material” breach.

For instance, if you live in Maine, Landlords may give a 7-day notice if the Tenant materially breaches the lease or rental agreement. Otherwise, Landlords in Maine must give a 30-day notice for lease violations.

In Pennsylvania, if the tenant has rented the premises for more than one year and violates the lease agreement, landlords must provide a 30-day eviction notice. Otherwise, the tenant has rented the premises for less than one year; the landlord is only required to provide a 15-day notice.

Montana may win the award for the most unique notice requirements. In Montana, landlords must give a 14-day notice to cure or quit, but a shorter 3-day notice is allowed if the tenant violated a pet or guest policy.

3. Unconditional Quit Notices (End “Month-to-Month”)

The Tenant cannot pay rent or correct the problem because, on multiple occasions, they have:

  • failed to pay rent on time
  • violated the lease agreement
  • seriously damaged (or is currently damaging) the Premises
  • committed a crime on the premises (like selling drugs or running a prostitution business)
notice requirements for ending a mont-to-month lease
State Distribution: # of Days Notice Required to End a Month-to-Month

Most states (more than ⅔) require only a 30-day eviction notice to end a month-to-month or holdover tenancy, but some states like Delaware and Georgia provide a more Tenant friendly 60-day notice.

Some states like Colorado and Connecticut are more landlord-friendly and require only a 3-day notice, while landlords in Wyoming are not required to give any advanced notice.

Other states have unique requirements. For example, a Landlord in New Jersey must have a reason or “cause” to evict a month-to-month Tenant.

Unconditional quit notices are also used to end an unwanted landlord-tenant relationship with someone who has overstayed their lease (i.e., a Tenant at Sufferance).

notice requirements for holdover tenant
State Distribution: # of Days Notice Required for Holdover Tenant

Most states allow Landlords to begin eviction proceedings in court immediately. More than ⅔ of housing laws in the U.S. do not have a minimum notice requirement for eviction notices when Tenants continue to stay even after their lease has expired.

Landlords in Pennsylvania, however, must provide a 30-day notice to evict a holdover Tenant if the premises were rented for more than one year. Otherwise, only a 15-day notice is required.

Of note, if you live in California or Kentucky, be sure to check your local housing and landlord-tenant eviction laws for the latest requirements since minimum notice requirements for an eviction notice vary widely in each municipality.

Further, each state has a different name for an eviction notice. See the chart below for a few variations.

Reason for Eviction and Corresponding Notice Titles

Issue: Failure to Pay Rent

Issue: Lease Violation or Lease Expired

Demand Notice for Nonpayment of Rent Demand for Compliance
Demand for Possession Notice of Termination
Demand for Payment of Rent Notice of Intention to Vacate
Demand for Past Due Rent Notice to Cease
Notice to Cure Notice to Cure Default
Notice to Demand Payment for Failure to Pay Rent Notice to Cure Violation
Notice to Terminate Lease for Failure to Pay Rent Notice to Demand for Possession
Notice of Intention to Evict Notice to Leave the Premises
Notice of Intent to Terminate Lease for Nonpayment of Rent Notice to Quit
Notice of Termination for Nonpayment of Rent Notice to Quit Possession
Notice to Leave Premises Notice to Vacate
Notice to Pay Rent
Notice to Quit Possession
Notice to Quit Premises
Notice to Vacate
Right to Possession Notice
Termination for Failure to Pay Rent


What is the difference between a “Tenant at Will” and a “Tenant at Sufferance”?

Most states give more protection to a “Tenant at Will” than a “Tenant at Sufferance.”

A Tenant at Will is usually staying on the premises with the Landlord’s permission, so states often give such Tenants more advanced notice (i.e., 30-day notice). In contrast, a Tenant at Sufferance (i.e., a Holdover Tenant) stays on the Premises without the Landlord’s permission and gets less time for when a Landlord can begin an eviction (i.e., usually no advanced notice is required).

Here’s an easy to understand chart describing the differences:

Tenant at Will vs. Tenant at Sufferance

Tenant at Will

Tenant at Sufferance

Landlord permission given Landlord does NOT give permission
Month-to-month lease (written or verbal) Landlord ends month-to-month lease
Invalid lease (i.e. no rent amount) Landlord sends a Notice to Quit
Written lease ended or expired BUT
1. Landlord accepts your rent
2. No new lease has been signed
Written lease ended or expired and
1. Landlord wants Tenant out
2. Landlord does not accept rent or
accept rent under protest (AKA “Holdover Tenant”)
No expiration date or last day of rent


What is the eviction process?

Generally, the rules and regulations governing the process provide both Tenants and Landlords different due process protections. Neither the Tenant nor the Landlord can be deprived of “property” in the form of either housing for the Tenant or rent money for the Landlord following appropriate legal procedures and safeguards.

family being evicted unfairly
The eviction process is highly regulated.

The process is akin to an expedited lawsuit by the Landlord (i.e., Plaintiff) against the Tenant (i.e., Defendant). The process makes sure that both the Tenant and the Landlord receive fair treatment. Only the judge has the final say in whether the Tenant must leave.

The eviction process is also known by the following terms:

  • Ejectment
  • Eviction lawsuit
  • Forcible detainer
  • Repossession
  • Summary process
  • Summary possession
  • Unlawful detainer action (UDA or UD)

Generally, the eviction process is a “summary” court procedure.  This means that the court will move forward with the case very quickly, and the Tenant has a short time to respond to the lawsuit. Instead of waiting months for a judge to hear the case, the Landlord and Tenant can appear before the local court relatively soon after the Landlord files a complaint.

Here is an infographic roadmap describing the process from start to finish, and the various ways it can be resolved:

eviction process infographic shows how the eviction process works

Eviction Notice PDF Sample

The sample eviction notice below is a record of a notification given by the landlord, ‘Sarah R Cooper’, to the tenant, ‘Margaret A Burgess.’ Sarah R Cooper wishes to let Margaret A Burgess know that the lease has been terminated, and she needs to leave the premises.


Page 1 / 3


Zoom 100%

2. When an Eviction Letter is Needed

A notice is not needed if the Landlord and Tenant are able to resolve the problem by themselves. It is desirable in most cases to avoid serving an eviction notice to save both parties time, energy, and expense. If the tenant is late paying rent, there are some procedures a landlord can follow.

Perhaps there was a misunderstanding about the terms of the Lease? Did the Tenant have a death in the family, suffer a work injury, or lose their job?  Maybe the Landlord is willing to work out a payment plan for missed rent payments? Would the Tenant be willing to pay for the cost of repair to fix the damage caused to the premises?

workplace injury
There could be some reasons for a Tenant to fail to pay rent.

Sometimes a sincere apology, candid communication, and an honest willingness to cooperate can save both the Landlord and Tenant time and money in the long term.

However, an eviction notice is needed if the disagreement cannot be solved, and the Landlord wants to end the lease agreement and properly ask the Tenant to leave by a certain date.

Even though the Tenant is being asked to leave by a certain date, the Tenant has the right to stay in the Premises until a judge has heard from both the Landlord and the Tenant.

tenant running from police
Eventually, the courts will evict deadbeat Tenants and forcibly remove their belongings.

In the hurry of voluntarily moving out asap, the Tenant may also leave their furniture and personal belongings. Before a Landlord is tempted to sell off these abandoned personal items, it is wise to check local and state laws. Some states require Landlords to store these abandoned belongings for a certain time, while others allow Landlords to sell these items, but only after they have contacted the Tenant, posted a notice in the newspaper, or followed other strict procedures.

It’s my house! Can’t I just kick out a bad renter or tenant?

Even if a Tenant may be actively damaging the Premises, a Landlord may NOT resort to self-help measures. Instead, the court will require the Tenant to move out sooner if the Landlord is right. In most states, self-help measures are ILLEGAL.

A Landlord may NOT:

  • Change the locks
  • Put padlocks on the door
  • Remove outside doors or windows
  • Shut off the lights, gas, or water
  • Move out the Tenant’s furniture
  • Intimidate or harass the Tenant to move out
  • Physically remove the Tenant (i.e., Uncle Vinny can NOT help you)

The Landlord MUST use the court-administered eviction process to remove the Tenant from the Premises.

Ultimately, only the courts have the power and authority to decide whether an eviction can legally take place.

3. The Consequences of Not Sending an Eviction Notice

As a general rule, laws exist to create a safe and orderly world. No one wants the insecurity of finding themselves homeless without any warning. Similarly, everyone wants to get paid for the housing services they offer. Society as a whole benefit from Landlords getting paid on time and Tenants having access to a home. The complicated and detailed statutory procedures for an eviction process tries to protect the rights of BOTH Landlords and Tenants.

What happens if I do not send a notice?

If you do not send an eviction notice form, you may not begin the process of kicking out the Tenant.

Here are some of the costs incurred if the Landlord illegally takes the law into their own hands instead of sending a proper notice:

Landlord’s 4 Areas of Preventable Costs

1. Pay for damages incurred by the Tenant

  • Cost of finding temporary housing
  • Cost of replacing damaged furniture or belongings
  • Attorney fees to defend an unlawful eviction

2. Pay penalties

  • Some states require Landlords to pay up to $100 per day for each day of unlawful self-help (i.e., check your local landlord-tenant housing laws)

3. Pay for damages incurred by the Landlord

  • Attorney fees to defend the Landlord from an unlawful eviction

4. Personal and work time to attend court

5. Mental anguish and torture of Tenant delaying the eviction process

What happens if I do not send a notice properly?

If a Landlord does not strictly follow the proper procedures, the Tenant can challenge the eviction process on a technicality and force the Landlord to re-start the whole process.

judge makes a ruling
Handle eviction procedures to the letter of the law, or face negative consequences.

For example, if the Landlord was required to give a 10-day notice but only gives a 3-day notice, the Tenant may be able to claim that you violated their right to due process. A Landlord should consult their local housing laws and carefully follow the strict steps needed to evict a tenant properly.

What happens if I receive an eviction notice?

While the notice is NOT a court order to leave, do NOT ignore it.

An eviction notice allows the Landlord to START the eviction process in court if the Tenant cannot resolve the problem and comply with the lease agreement.

The Landlord MUST receive a court order or judgment from the court to make you leave.

If you receive an eviction notice, try the following immediately:

talk-it-out1. Talk with your Landlord and come to a mutual understanding

Perhaps there was a misunderstanding about the terms of the Lease? Did the Tenant have a death in the family, suffer a work injury, or lose their job?  Maybe the Landlord is willing to work out a payment plan for missed rent payments? Would the Tenant be willing to pay for the cost of repair to fix the damage caused to the premises?

Having a simple conversation may be the cheapest way to resolve the problem.

If the Lease is ambiguous or does not cover the situation at hand, you might also consider local mediation or arbitration resources available in your town or city. Alternative dispute resolution services can sometimes serve as a faster and cheaper alternative to the traditional court process.


2. Hire a private attorney

If you have the means and the stakes are high, it may pay off, in the long run, to hire an attorney to guide you through the detailed eviction process.

Even if you do not have the means to pay, some attorneys may also accept clients on a contingency basis, so you only pay if the attorney is successful. For example, your attorney would agree beforehand that if you win, the attorney will subtract court costs like filing fees and a fixed percentage (usually one-third) from the amount won.

Other attorneys who are very familiar with the local housing process may only charge a flat fee.




3. Contact government agencies and offices

With a little bit of research, you may also discover that your local or state government offers helpful landlord-tenant services. An increase in homelessness would further burden municipal services, so some local governments invest resources in providing housing assistance to prevent such problems.  For example, try finding the following:

City Resources

  • Human Rights and Human Services Department
  • Consumer Protection Agency
  • Housing Agency
  • District Attorney’s Office
  • City or County Rent Control Board

State Resources

  • Health and Human Services Department
  • Housing Authority


4. Find a helpful nonprofit

Because housing affects everyone, there are many 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations that specialize in offering assistance to landlord-tenant disputes. Depending on your economic situation, you may qualify for subsidized or free legal services. Here are a few possible sources of additional help:

  • Legal Aid Organization
  • Housing Clinic
  • Local Law School Public Interest Clinic
  • Tenant Organization
  • Tenant-Landlord Programs


5. Represent yourself in court

Another option is to simply appear before the judge without legal counsel, also known as appearing pro se or “for yourself.”

In some states like Massachusetts, the housing court may offer something akin to a Lawyer for a Day program, which provides limited legal advice on a pro bono (free) basis to tenants and landlords on a first-come, first-served basis.

Before going to court, be sure to collect any documents, photos, and information that may help explain or support your side of the story. Remember to prepare beforehand and practice giving a short and clear explanation of what happened. The judge often has a large caseload and is often under a lot of pressure to get through many cases quickly.

Here are some other tips:

  • Prepare your explanation beforehand
  • Address the judge as “Your Honor”
  • Speak loudly and clearly
  • Dress modestly and appear professional (i.e., wear your Sunday best)
  • Be courteous to the other party (i.e., no yelling or name-calling)

What if this eviction notice is not fair?

Perhaps the Tenant withheld rent and did not pay because the Landlord did not fix the air conditioner? Maybe the Landlord is unlawfully retaliating against the Tenant for reporting a housing code violation (i.e., retaliatory eviction)? Perhaps the Landlord started treating the Tenant differently once they met their same-sex partner or started dating a person of a different race or nationality?

As a Tenant, you may have good reasons for not being evicted.

Here are some possible unlawful eviction explanations you might explore:

Top 6 Ways to be Unlawfully Evicted

1. Retaliatory Eviction

It is illegal for a Landlord to evict a Tenant for reporting a housing code violation to the building inspector.

2. Implied Warranty of Habitability

The Landlord must provide livable premises. For example, housing must be fit for human habitation and have necessities like heat and running water.

3. Excessive Rent

A Landlord may not ask for more rent than is actually due.illegal

4. Lease Has Not Ended

If the Tenant has not violated the lease, a Landlord may not ask the Tenant to leave prematurely before the Terms of the Lease have expired.

5. Domestic Violence (DV)

Neighbors may be troubled by the excessive fighting, noise, or police presence caused by fighting at home, but a Landlord may not be able to evict victims of domestic violence (“DV victims”) depending on state and local laws.

6. Unfair Discrimination

Federal law protects Tenants from discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, family status (children v. no children), and disability. Some states expand these protections and prevent Landlords from discriminating based on marital status (single v. married), sexual orientation (LGBTQ v. straight), and military or veteran status.


What happens if I am evicted?

In addition to not having a place to live, your credit may also suffer. A judgment against the Tenant will be reported on your credit score for seven years.

hand holding breaking piggy bank
Getting evicted will seriously impact your credit score.

Additionally, past evictions show up on background checks. Having been evicted, you may find it is harder to find housing in the future since a rental application usually requires a background check.

4. The Most Common Reasons for Receiving an Eviction Notice

The 5 Most Common Reasons for Evicting a Tenant

thumbs-down-ltBear in mind that as a Landlord, you should avoid having to evict a Tenant at all costs, as it is expensive and time-consuming.

However, if you must, Tenants commonly receive an eviction notice for these reasons (i.e., “Landlord’s grievances”).

  1. Unpaid Rent: failure to pay rent on time for a certain number of days
  2. Lease Violation: damaged property (“waste,” “mold buildup“), constantly noisy (“nuisance”)
  3. End a Month-to-Month Lease: Landlord wants to end a month-to-month or at will rental
  4. Lease Expired: staying after the Lease expires, is canceled, or is terminated (Holdover)
  5. Unwanted Roommate: Landlord no longer wants to live with a friend or family member

6 Ways to Avoid Eviction Costs & Headaches

thumbs-up-ltIf you don’t enjoy unexpected and unnecessary costs, you can take the following steps to avoid these problems and save yourself a big headache.

Each of these steps requires using specific forms to notify the Tenant (all of which you should save copies of):

  1. Use a Rental Application to find a hassle-free Tenant and confirm their:
    • work status
    • credit check
    • background check
    • current financial ability to pay

Where are eviction notices commonly used?

Here is a table of the top ten states where eviction notices may be needed. The first column explains how the notice should be delivered. The second column details what kind of notice should be delivered if the Tenant has failed to pay rent, while the second column shows the minimum number of days a Landlord must give a Tenant to fix or “cure” the problem or else “vacate” and leave the premises.

Specificaties: Eviction Notice


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