How To Write an Eviction Notice in 7 Essential Steps
The truth of the matter is, nobody WANTS to have to evict a tenant. It’s emotionally taxing on all parties involved, it’s expensive for all parties involved, and it should absolutely be the last resort after all other options have been exhausted.
But the unfortunate reality is – if you manage rental properties, eventually you are going to have to write an eviction notice.
So, it’s important to learn how to write an eviction notice.
WHEN AN EVICTION NOTICE MAY BE NECESSARY
There are quite a few circumstances in which you may find it necessary to serve a tenant with an eviction notice. Though it’s certainly not an exhaustive list, here are some reasons why you may need to serve your tenant with a written notice:
Tenant’s lease expired but they have not moved out on time
Tenant’s have conducted illegal activity in the rental property
Unpaid rent on the tenant’s ledger
It’s important to note that not “all” lease violations will ultimately result in an eviction. The vast majority of lease violation notices (or eviction notices) are typically for things that the tenant is given an opportunity to remedy.
For example, the lease may indicate that residents cannot leave trash out on the balcony. The property manager would issue a lease violation (or eviction notice) that if the issue is not remedied by “x” date, then further action may be taken.
Generally the tenant will remedy the issue by removing the trash and no further action is required.
However, there are some scenarios in which the tenant does not remedy the issue, and it’s necessary to proceed with a formal eviction notice and an eviction filing in court.
THE WRONG WAY TO EVICT
Before we can understand the proper way to write an eviction notice, it is helpful to first understand what a “wrongful eviction” might look like.
The wrong way to evict someone might something look like this:
Changing the locks, and refusing to change them back.
Removing the door (or windows) from the rental.
Moving all tenant’s personal belongings outside without a court order.
Intentionally make the rental unlivable by disconnecting the utilities.
Generally speaking, an eviction would be considered “wrongful” when you attempt to force a tenant out of the rental without a court order.
THE RIGHT WAY TO EVICT
If you have a court order where you have won an eviction petition, then you have the law on your side. That generally means that you’ve gone through the steps (we’ll cover those steps in this article), as required by law, to have been awarded the eviction order from the judge.
And when you do have a court order, there are set-in-stone guidelines on how to proceed with removing the tenant from the property if they do not do so willingly by the date on the order.
The correct way to enforce an eviction judgement typically involves a writ of possession filing that’s enforced by the constable.
There may be rare circumstances in various states that allow for alternative methods, but those are few and far between. And as time goes on, those states are instituting tighter restrictions on eviction proceedings as well.
HOW TO WRITE AN EVICTION NOTICE
In order to know how to write an eviction notice, you have to identify what part of the lease the tenant has violated. After identifying the lease violation, you can proceed with writing an eviction notice that addresses the lease violation.
Here are some of the details that an eviction notice typically has to have on it:
The tenant’s name and address of the rental property as detailed on the lease agreement.
The date of the notice.
The initial date the lease became a legal contract.
It must state the reason for the eviction notice (when applicable)
It typically cites what part of the lease agreement that reason violates.
The date that the tenant must vacate the rental by.
The signature of the party(s) responsible for managing the rental and/or the owner.
Retain multiple copies of the signed eviction notice for your records. You’ll generally be required to provide it to the court if you ultimately have to file an eviction lawsuit.
Once you have learned how to write an eviction notice and it has been written up, it’s time to deliver it to the tenant.
EVICTION NOTICE TEMPLATE
Sometimes it helps to have a visual, so I’ve included an eviction notice sample template.
This eviction notice template is simply intended to be used as a visual to understand some of the content discussed in this article, and learn the core concepts of how to write an eviction notice.
This form is NOT intended to be used as-is.
You should always review your state laws to make sure that the form that you send to your tenants includes all the of the required information that your state requires to be included on the eviction notice form.
Every state is going to have a slightly different set of rules regarding how an eviction notice must be delivered to the tenant. The easiest, simplest way, is generally to hand-deliver the notice to the tenant. However, that’s not always possible, nor is it necessarily the safest method to use in some situations.
There are often other ways the notice can be delivered. One of those methods may be via certified mail with a tracking number, and signature of receipt.
Another option may be to post on the inside of the rental door.
It’s important that you identify the legal methods of delivery that your specific state allows for.
When it comes to eviction notices, it’s important to pay attention to and adhere to state laws.
Failure to properly deliver an eviction notice can result in your eviction filing getting thrown out in court and you’ll have to start the process all over again.
THE EVICTION PROCESS
Generally speaking, the process that’s applicable in most states that leads to an eviction is very similar across the board.
Tenant does not remedy the issue within the timeframe allowed for on the violation(s)
Property Manager proceeds with an eviction filing, furnishing the court with all of the associated documentation and proof of the violation(s) of the lease
The court sets an eviction hearing date and serves the tenant (re: defendant) with a summons
The court hears the arguments, weighs the evidence, and rules on the eviction filing either in favor, or against, the property manager.
The decision, regardless of who it is for or against, can be appealed in most states, though, this appeal can be expensive and does not happen in the vast majority of eviction cases when the tenant is the one who was ruled against (if they didn’t have money to pay rent, chances are, they can’t afford the cost of an appeal).
Eventually (appeal or not), the property manager generally gets awarded possession of the rental, and the tenant is given a deadline for when they must be out of the rental property.
The Property Manager then files a Write of Possession and the constable sets a date/time for when they will come out to the property to make sure the tenant has removed all of their belongings and have surrendered possession of the rental property.
The Property Manager changes the locks, and takes possession of the rental.
In order to go through this process, you must first learn how to write an eviction notice – which is what gets it all started.
So make sure you have a firm understanding of how to write an eviction notice in your specific state. That way you can avoid getting your case thrown out in court over failing to meet your states criteria for eviction notices.
HANDLING A SECURITY DEPOSIT AFTER EVICTION
As a landlord, it’s essential that you understand how to handle the security deposit after you have taken legal action against your tenant.
Generally speaking, you would handle the security deposit the same way you would as if the tenant had given you proper notice by giving you a lease termination letter, and surrendered possession of the rental at the end of the lease term.
An eviction letter, eviction case, and court papers don’t necessarily change how you handle a security deposit unless the court papers specifically state something otherwise.
Here are some examples of what the security deposit is typically going to be applied towards:
1. Past due rent
2. Late Fees
3. Legal Filing Fees (some states allow for this)
4. Tenant Damages
FINAL TENANT STATEMENT FOLLOWING AN EVICTION
Anytime you have a rental unit where the tenant signed a rental agreement, you will typically be required by state law to furnish the tenant with a final account statement after they have move out.
In most cases, the final account statement must be sent to the tenant within 30 days from the date that they gave up possession of the rental. Though, that may vary from state to state.
The laws regarding final tenant statements are generally applicable even if you went through eviction court.
The final tenant statement should detail whether or not the security deposit was applied to any of the outstanding balances owed, and what the remaining balance is – if any.
Sometimes the judge may specify exactly what the tenant is responsible for paying after the eviction suit has been argued in court, and a court decision has been handed down.
If that is the case with your eviction filing, then it’s important that you update the tenants final account statement to reflect the courts ruling.
MOVING FORWARD AFTER AN EVICTION
After an eviction has been filed, and the eviction court makes a decision, that typically means that you have a vacant rental on your hands shortly after.
Chances are, you’ll have to complete a turn on the rental unit to get it back into move-in ready condition.
Meanwhile, you should start marketing the vacant rental as soon as possible so that you can find a tenant quickly. It’s also best to make sure you’re using the best tenant finder service so as to not waste time.
Evictions and turning over rental units can be very expensive and time consuming, so the quicker you have cash flow on the rental property – the better.