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What should be included in an eviction notice?

Eviction notices contain basic information about the tenant, the rental unit, and the reasons for eviction

There are several types of eviction notices that you may receive as a tenant. Some evictions are based on violations of the rental agreement or lease, and some are based on the needs of the landlord and have nothing to do with you.

Most eviction notices don’t have the word "eviction" in the title, but use more obscure legal language. If you have difficulty understanding your eviction notice or your rights as a tenant, you can contact a local tenant’s rights organization or a lawyer with experience in landlord-tenant law.

Types of notices

An eviction notice is often called a "notice to quit." Different states allow for variations on this notice; some allow you to remedy the issue causing the eviction before you go to court, and some don’t.

A "notice to pay rent or quit" asks you to pay overdue rent promptly, or move out ("quit"). A "notice to cure or quit" notice asks you to fix ("cure") a problem, or move out. You may receive this notice if you have an unapproved pet or extra roommate, or are violating noise rules.

An "unconditional notice to quit" cannot be cured—you are being asked to move out regardless of what action you take. The landlord can choose to rescind the notice, but otherwise you must leave the premises during the time period given, or face eviction proceedings.

Receiving an eviction notice

Typically, the landlord (or the landlord’s representative) must either hand you or another tenant of "suitable age and discretion" the eviction notice in person. If the landlord cannot find you, they may be allowed to post the notice on the door and send it to you by mail.

If your landlord or landlord’s representative does not serve the eviction notice according to local laws, you may be able to contest your eviction.

Requirements of an eviction notice

Eviction notices must correctly state the names of the tenants on the rental agreement or lease, the address of the unit in question, and the deadline for responding or moving out, as applicable. Other requirements for eviction notices, such as restating specific local laws, vary by state.

Your landlord may be required by state law to describe the reason for eviction in the notice, including specific ways you’re accused of violating the rental agreement or lease. If the eviction goes to court, you can challenge false statements or errors in the landlord’s case against you.

Responding to the eviction notice

The eviction notice does not mean that eviction is imminent. If you do not move out within the period specified on the eviction notice, the landlord can file a summons and complaint for an eviction lawsuit, which can take a couple of weeks or longer to resolve, especially if you contest it.

You can contact the landlord and attempt to compromise, avoiding court proceedings. If you want to move out, you might be able to negotiate extra time to pack up. Or you may be able to arrange a payment plan to catch up on rent and stay in the unit.

If you don’t respond or move out

Once the landlord serves you the summons and complaint, you have 3-7 days to respond. Information on how to respond will be on the summons.

It is in your best interest, even if you intend to leave the property, to file this response or answer, as it allows you to maintain your right to stay in the home until legal proceedings are done.

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