A notice to quit is not a forced eviction, but it is the first step in the eviction process. Evictions are legal proceedings, notices to quit merely state intentions to initiate legal proceedings. Depending on the state in which the notice is issued and the reason for the notice, tenants may have 30 days or longer to find another place to live. In many cases, such as the case of unpaid rent, a tenant has the opportunity to remedy the issue and remain on the property.
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When a landlord wishes for a tenant to vacate a property the tenant currently inhabits, he will issue a "notice to quit." The notice to quit can be hand delivered or mailed to the tenant. It must contain the reason for the eviction and the amount of time the tenant has to relocate. If a tenant receives a notice to quit on the grounds of unpaid rent, the tenant has 14 days to pay the balance owed and prevent eviction proceedings. Tenants can be served a notice to quit regardless of whether they currently have a lease allowing them to occupy the property.
The amount of time a leased tenant has to leave the property once receiving a notice to quit varies by state. In some states, landlords are required to give as much as 30 days' notice. In others, a three-day notice to quit is considered sufficient. A landlord cannot evict a leased tenant at will. Non-leased tenants, however, are subject to evictions without cause. For example, a leased tenant must break the terms of the lease or participate in illegal activity to be subject to a notice to quit. A non-leased tenant can be delivered a notice to quit for any reason, but must be given a minimum of 30 days in which to relocate--regardless of the tenant's state of residence. This stipulation is waived if the non-leased tenant is being evicted for non-payment of rent.
There are three types of notices to quit: a notice to quit for non-payment of rent, a notice to quit for health hazard or injury, and a notice to quit for termination of tenancy. A non-payment of rent notice is issued when a tenant does not pay the agreed upon amount to the landlord. A health hazard or injury notice is issued when a tenant pays rent, yet damages or creates a health hazard on the property. With both of these notices, the tenant must be given an opportunity to remedy the problem. A termination of tenancy notice, however, is not issued on the grounds of any breach and therefore is not easily remediable. This type of notice is given when a tenant is on a month-to-month lease, or no lease at all, and the landlord wants to reclaim the property.
One commonly held misconception is that a notice to quit is an eviction. It is merely a statement of the landlord's intention to initiate eviction proceedings if a tenant remains on the premises beyond a certain date. Only a judge's decree constitutes an actual legal and binding eviction. Another common belief is that only a landlord can issue a notice to quit. This is not the case. When a tenant chooses to end his tenancy, the written notice he delivers to his landlord is also considered a notice to quit.
If a notice to quit is disregarded by a tenant, the landlord is then forced to take legal action to have the tenant removed from the property. Once the time frame in the notice to quit has expired, the landlord will have a summons and complaint delivered to the tenant via state marshal. If the tenant ignores the summons, he may be physically removed from the premises by law enforcement officials in as little as 10 days. The tenant also has the option to fight the eviction in court.
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