Over the course of an eviction procedure, the tenant must receive specific notices and warnings so the landlord can avoid a case dismissal. Most states have specific guidelines on the types of letters and notices, as well as the proper method of service, in their landlord and tenant acts.
A landlord can send warning letters to inform tenants when they are breaking a lease clause, are behind on rent or are causing a problem. A landlord sends warning letters to try to get a tenant to modify his behavior or fix a problem before going to court. A warning letter may be followed up by a notice of termination of the lease if the tenant does not correct the problem. Warning letters are not legally required before a landlord sends the tenant a termination notice.
An eviction notice can be one of two types. A notice of termination or notice to quit is sometimes called an eviction notice, as it dissolves the rental agreement between the landlord and the tenant. This notice is served before the landlord goes to court to file for an eviction. An actual eviction notice is served by a sheriff after an eviction case goes to court. This notice has several different names, depending on the court case, such as writ of possession or writ of restitution. The eviction notice that the sheriff delivers informs the tenant he will be physically evicted from the property if he does not leave.
Warning letters are an informal means of resolving a situation before the landlord takes a tenant to court, so the laws have no specific information requirements on these types of notices. The termination notice is not a legal form, but it does need several pieces of information to be legally valid in eviction court, if the process goes that far. A typical termination notice includes the landlord's name and address, the rental unit's address and the tenant's name, the reason for termination, the date the notice was served, the date the lease terminates, a solution to the problem and the landlord's signature.
The formal eviction writ is granted through the court if a tenant does not leave after an eviction judgment is granted. The writ is sent to the sheriff or constable, who is granted temporary authority to evict the tenant from the rental unit.
Each state has its own landlord and tenant laws, so the eviction causes vary from state to state. The three eviction causes that most states allow are eviction for nonpayment of rent, eviction for illegal activity and eviction for breaking a lease clause. Breaking the lease includes bringing in unauthorized tenants, allowing pets in a no-pets property or failing to abide by the rental rules established in the lease agreement. With the exception of short-term leases, such as month-to-month or week-to-week leases, most states require a cause to end a fixed-length tenancy before the end of the term.
The termination notice gives a tenant anywhere from three to 90 days to remedy the situation or move out. The specific amount of time given depends on the reason for termination, with termination for nonpayment or illegal activity running much shorter than eviction for ignoring a lease term. The court decides on the notice length for a physical eviction notice, as the tenant may have extenuating circumstances that warrants a longer than normal time to move out.
Warning letters save the landlord the cost of bringing a tenant to court and paying legal fees and marketing fees involved in finding another tenant. A termination notice also allows the landlord to avoid going to court for eviction as long as the tenant leaves the home. A writ benefits the landlord because he doesn't have to wait for the tenant to leave on her own after an eviction judgment. Reducing the wait time allows the landlord to prepare the rental unit for the next tenant.