The Basic Rules of Sending a Tenant a Notice to Quit

Why, When and How to Send One

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By signing a lease agreement, a tenant has agreed to follow the terms of the lease. If the tenant breaks a clause of this contract, a landlord must often first send the tenant a Notice to Quit the behavior. If the tenant does not fix the lease violation, the landlord then has the right to file for an eviction. Learn the basic rules of sending a Notice to Quit, including why to send it, when to send it and how to send it.

What Is a Notice to Quit?

A Notice to Quit is a formal legal document a landlord sends a tenant in an attempt to fix a lease violation. In most cases, before a landlord can formally file to evict a tenant, the landlord must first serve the tenant with a Notice to Quit. This Notice gives the tenant a chance to fix the issue. It informs them that they have “X” number of days to fix the violation or the landlord will begin eviction proceedings against them.

Reasons to Send a Tenant a Notice to Quit?

There are a number of reasons you can send a tenant a Notice to Quit. A Notice to Quit can be given because a tenant has violated a clause in the lease agreement or because of external factors unrelated to the tenant, such as the property being taken off the rental market. Examples of reasons to send a Notice to Quit include:

  • Tenant has been creating too much noise.
  • Tenant has a dog and you have a no pets policy.
  • Tenant has not been keeping their unit in a clean and habitable condition.
  • Individuals living in the apartment who are not named as tenants on the lease agreement.

Whatever the reason is that you are filing the Notice to Quit, this reason must be clearly spelled out in the Notice. Failure to present a tenant with a Notice to Quit is a common eviction mistake landlords make.

Who Should Be Named on the Notice to Quit?

When serving a tenant a Notice to Quit, you must make sure to include the proper tenants on the Notice. All adult members who live in the unit should be named on the Notice.

In addition to naming the tenants, you must also include:

  • The address of the property.
  • The floor on which the apartment is located.
  • The exact unit number in which the tenants reside.
  • The landlord, or a representative of the landlord, must sign and date this Notice.

How Do You Send a Notice to Quit?

Every state has different rules for how you must deliver a Notice to Quit, so you must check your state’s eviction laws. Some states require the landlord or a representative of the landlord to serve the Notice to Quit in person. Others allow you to send the tenant the Notice to Quit by first-class certified mail instead of serving it in person. Certain states require this Notice to be formally delivered to the tenant by a state marshal.

When Must You Send a Notice to Quit?

The reason you are evicting a tenant will determine when you must send the tenant the Notice to Quit. In almost all cases, this Notice must be served a minimum of three days before you are able to file for an eviction. Some reasons could require as much as a year’s notice.

Often, you must first serve a tenant with a Notice to Cease before you can even serve them with a Notice to Quit. For example, you may serve a tenant with a Notice to Cease if they are disrupting other tenants in the building. If they continue this behavior after receiving this Notice to Cease, you can then serve them with a Notice to Quit.

Wait for Tenant Response

After serving a tenant Notice to Quit, you will have to wait for one of two results:

  • Tenant Obeys Notice- The tenant may receive the Notice and realize that you intend to file for an eviction if the lease violation is not fixed. If they were behind on their rent, they may become current on their rent in the hope that you will accept the rent and allow them to remain in the property. If they are unable to fix the behavior that is breaching the lease, the tenant will voluntarily move out of the rental property before having to go to court. Many tenants do not want an eviction on their record, so will leave before being formally evicted in court.
  • Tenant Disregards Notice- Sometimes you will serve a tenant a Notice to Quit and the tenant will disregard it. They understand that it can take more than a month to go before the court and get formally evicted. The tenant is trying to buy time because they have nowhere else to go or because they are willing to fight it out in court as they do not believe they have done anything wrong.