Eviction Proceedings

While landlord-tenant laws vary from state to state, all states have statutes regarding tenant eviction. The legal requirements for tenant eviction may differ depending upon the circumstances, such as if there is a written lease agreement or if the tenancy is a month-to-month or week-to-week rental. Additionally, there generally are different laws governing the eviction of a residential tenant versus a commercial tenant.

Causes for Eviction

Some of the most common reasons for tenant eviction include:

  • Failure to pay rent;
  • Violating the terms in lease agreement (such as a no-pets clause);
  • Damaging the property;
  • Harassment of other tenants;
  • Noise violations;
  • Engaging in illegal activity on the premises.

Types of Eviction Notices

Before filing a formal eviction complaint in court, a landlord intending to evict a tenant is usually required to provide the tenant with a particular type of notice. State law determines the causes for eviction and the type of notice required.

Local law also mandates the information that needs to be included in a notice, how many days notice is required, and the requisite method of delivery of the notice upon the tenant. If the notice or its method of delivery is invalid or defective, it must be filed again by the landlord.

While state statutes use varying terminology and have different notice requirements, the following are the most common types of eviction notices.

Notices of Eviction for Cause 

  • Notice to Cease/Cure or Quit

A Notice to Cease/Cure or Quit functions as a written warning to a tenant, advising them to to stop certain conduct that is not permitted under the terms of the lease or leave the premises by a specific date.

The notice must clearly state in detail the conduct that the landlord wishes the tenant to cease, as well as the amount of time the tenant has to stop the offending conduct. Usually, state law determines the amount of time the tenant has to correct, or “cure,” the violation before the landlord can proceed with the eviction process.

Some states may also require the notice to state that the tenant will not be evicted if they stop engaging in the conduct, and a landlord cannot legally evict the tenant if the tenant stops the conduct described in the notice.

Some, but not all, causes for eviction may require a Notice to Cease/Cure or Quit before a landlord can proceed with the eviction process.

  • Notice to Pay Rent or Quit

A Notice to Pay Rent or Quit advises a tenant that the landlord is terminating the tenancy due to non-payment of rent. The notice should also advise the tenant to pay rent by specified date or move out.

The time given for the tenant to move out is dependent upon local law. If the tenant does not pay the past due rent or move out by the stated deadline, the landlord can then file a formal eviction proceeding in court.

  • Unconditional Quit Notice

In some states a landlord may provide a notice that advises a tenant to vacate the premises by a certain date set by state law, without giving the tenant any opportunity  to cure the violation by paying the back rent due or taking any other corrective action.

In states that permit them, Unconditional Quit Notices are only allowed when the tenant has:

  • repeatedly violated a significant clause in the lease agreement;
  • been late paying rent on more than one occasion;
  • seriously damaged the premises; or
  • engaged in serious illegal activity on the premises.

Notices for Eviction Without Cause

In most states, a landlord can provide a notice ordering a tenant to move without giving any reason. Unless there is a fixed-term lease, a landlord can provide an eviction notice even if a tenant has paid rent and did not violate the lease agreement as long as the landlord gives proper notice.

  • 30-Day or 60-Day Notice to Vacate

The time permitted under state laws for such a notice is usually 30 or 60 days, but it could be anywhere from 20 to 90 days. Time periods may vary depending upon:

  • how long the tenant has been a resident;
  • whether the tenant is a senior citizen or is disabled;
  • if the tenant is receiving federal housing assistance; or
  • if the reason for the eviction is a condo conversion.

In some jurisdictions, landlords may be required to pay relocation expenses to senior citizens or disabled tenants, or for rental units that are being converted to condos.

Notices for Eviction Without Cause are not permitted when a tenant has a fixed-term lease until the lease period is completed. Additionally, landlords cannot evict a tenant without cause for reasons of discrimination or as retaliation against a tenant for reporting violations or insisting on legal repairs. This type of notice may also not be permitted in rent controlled buildings or buildings protected by rent stabilization laws.

Landlords and tenants can find the evictions laws in their state by clicking here.

The information on this website is intended as general legal information only and should not form the basis of legal advice of any kind. Individuals seeking specific legal advice should consult a lawyer.




Written by 

New Jersey lawyer turned blogger, podcaster and legal changemaker.