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Eviction 101: Definition, Reasons, and What Happens if You Get an Eviction Notice

Recently, evictions have become a larger problem for tenants and landlords alike as the economy and many individuals were hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. This article aims to answer all the questions you might have about why you could get evicted and how the eviction process looks like. 

We believe that every tenant has to be familiar with evictions even if they believe (and hope) this will never happen to them. 

What Is an Eviction?

Eviction is a legal process of removing the tenant from the rental property. Mostly, it happens if the tenant violates the terms of the lease agreement, for example, fails to pay the rent or damages the property.

You should remember that it is illegal for a landlord to lock tenants out or perform any actions to force a tenant to leave. Even if the renter breaches a rental agreement, the landlord must follow specific rules and procedures that we will discuss below.

What Are the Reasons for an Eviction?

There are many different reasons why a landlord can decide to start an eviction process, but mostly they can be grouped into three categories. 

  • Unpaid rent 

if you haven’t paid the rent and the grace period has passed, your landlord can hand you the pay or quit notice. You can either pay your rent in full or move out in the given period in this situation. The time depends on the state, as it varies significantly across the country and has to be specified in the notice.

More like this: Illegal Actions Your Landlord Might be Taking

  • Violation of lease terms

Here you can find anything from subletting prohibited in the agreement, getting a pet without the landlord’s knowledge or permission, and smoking in a non-smoking property. If this is a case, the tenant receives a cure or quit notice. Similarly, there is a certain timeframe to fix the problem or leave the property.

  • Repeated non-payment or serious breach of the lease agreement

Landlords can also give an unconditional quit notice, which is the most severe of all. In this scenario, there is no option to avoid vacating the rental. Some reasons can include repetitive non-payment of rent, denying access to the property, illegal activity in the unit, or serious damages to the rental. 

How Does an Eviction Process Look? 

Different states have different nuances when it comes to landlord-tenant laws in general as well as evictions. However, the overall approach is fairly similar — these are the steps the landlord must follow to handle the process correctly. 

1. Notice to Vacate

Before filing a lawsuit and approaching the court, the landlord must terminate a tenancy and serve an eviction notice, also called a notice to vacate. Above, we talked about three types of notice the tenant could receive. If it’s a pay or quit or cure or quit notice, you can still try to resolve an issue and settle the dispute with your landlord. If you cannot fix the problem, you might want to move out at this point to avoid the lawsuit. The tenant might have from three days to a month, depending on the eviction’s reason and the state where it takes place.

Note: Remember that if the reason for eviction is failure to pay rent, you still have to pay to avoid a civil lawsuit. 

2. Filing an Eviction

If a tenant did not fix the issue in the given time and refuses to vacate the property, the landlord can proceed with the eviction. They have to head to the courthouse and deliver confirmation of providing the notice to vacate to the tenant by certified mail. In return, the court will schedule a hearing date. 

After the landlord files an eviction lawsuit, the tenant will be served the summons. That’s how they will know that they have to attend the court hearing.

3. Court Hearing

During the hearing, the judge will take a look at both sides of the story and rule in favor of one of the parties. Make sure to thoroughly prepare and collect all the evidence. Also, we recommend attending the court hearing — it might lower your chances to win if you decide not to show up.

If the landlord wins the case, the judge will sign an eviction order and inform the tenant how much time they have to leave the rental.

Finally, if a tenant still refuses to vacate the premises on the given day, the landlord may contact the local authorities and ask them for help. 

What to Do if You’ve Got an Eviction Notice

You should know that eviction is a lengthy procedure involving court hearings, so it’s in your and your landlord’s best interest to solve the problem without actually going through all the steps. Basically, an eviction notice is a warning for a tenant to change their behavior and respect the lease agreement, which does not necessarily have to be followed by an eviction. 

If you believe that you’re being unlawfully evicted or your landlord failed to perform an eviction procedure correctly, you can go to court. Make sure to find a lawyer experienced in landlord-tenant law, as your landlord will most probably have a lawyer as well. 


Hopefully, you will never have to put to practice the knowledge from this article. However, evictions happen frequently enough, so we believe every tenant should know what happens when they get evicted, how to act in this situation, and what options they have.

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