Understanding an Eviction Letter

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Understanding an eviction letter is important, especially if you feel you’ve been wrongfully evicted. Laws for eviction differ from state to state; yet, eviction letters, in all states, are the written documents that are required to begin the eviction process.

Legal Grounds to Execute an Eviction Letter

For an eviction letter to be served, the landlord must have legal grounds for serving the letter on the tenant. The main reasons that an eviction letter—also known as a Notice to Quit or Notice to Vacate—is sent is for non-payment of rent. It can also be served on tenants who break a provision in the lease agreement, such as keeping pets in an apartment where none are allowed. Usually, the eviction letter must be delivered before the landlord can pursue any legal proceedings within the court system.

The Eviction Letter Is Basic to the Eviction Process

It’s illegal for a landlord to evict a tenant without written notification. Therefore, the eviction letter is basic to the eviction process. As a result, the landlord can’t take it on himself to evict a tenant without this form of written authorization. Landlords, then, can’t remove a tenant on their own accord or by other methods, such as changing a tenant’s locks or turning off an apartment dweller’s utilities. The landlord must follow the proper eviction rules and procedures in his jurisdiction – he must first issue an eviction letter with the reason for eviction or he can be sued.

The Contents of the Eviction Letter

For the eviction letter to be valid, it must contain certain information. If the reason for the letter is non-payment of rent, then the letter must include the amount due and any other fees or charges. Also, the paragraph in the rental agreement that points to the reason for eviction should be included as well. The letter must specify the cure date too. The cure date is the deadline or the date set by the landlord for remedying the problem. Usually tenants are given only a few days (5 to 10 days) to correct any breach in their rental contract.

Responding to the Eviction Letter—A Time-Sensitive Document

If a tenant fails to respond to the eviction letter in the time set forth, then the landlord will serve the tenant with a complaint in which the tenant is required to appear in court. If the tenant ignores the complaint, then the landlord can win by a default judgment and evict the tenant. Should a tenant feel the basis for the eviction letter is unfair, he can reply to the landlord by answering the complaint and give the reasons why, for instance, he hasn’t paid his rent.

An Eviction Letter Is Synonymous with Proper Notice

It’s imperative that you reply immediately to an eviction letter or Notice to Vacate if you want to stay in your apartment. Reading your lease and understanding your state’s eviction laws will help you in your response. In most cases, it’s best to see if you can avoid conflict and come to some type of equitable resolution.

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