What’s the Difference Between an Eviction Notice, Violation Notice and Non-Renewal Notice?

Published by Kevin Kiene on

Landlords are bound to face difficult situations and tenants periodically, no matter how well they screen rental applications.  Perhaps a tenant didn’t pay their rent this month, or maybe they just brought a pair of pit bulls into your building that doesn’t allow pets.  Now you need to take action and deal with the problem.

It’s never easy to confront tenants and try to shape their behavior, and you need to keep a paper trail.  So what is the right paperwork to use?  Do you need to use an eviction notice?  Should a lease non-renewal notice be used instead?  What about just giving a tenant a warning?

With so many terms and legal implications, it’s easy to get lost in the lingo.  To help you keep them straight, let’s see the difference between an eviction notice, a lease violation notice and a non-renewal notice.

Eviction Notice

An eviction notice is an official document that must contain certain legal language, in accordance with state laws.  It is required by law when informing your tenants of an impending eviction.  Legal requirements vary from one state to another, so it’s important to check what your obligations are.  Most eviction notices must include the tenant’s name, address, reason for eviction and timeline for corrective action if applicable.  The landlord must also sign and date the eviction notice and serve it according to strict state regulations, to make it official.

In most situations, the landlord must give the tenant the opportunity to remedy the situation.  For example, the tenant may be given a specific number of days to pay their rent in full or vacate the unit.  Those details must be included in the notice.

Landlords must have a lawful reason to send their tenants an eviction notice.  Depending on your state, they might include not paying the rent, violations to other terms in the lease agreement, illegal activity or damaging the property.

Serving an eviction notice is the first step in the eviction process.  If the tenant fails to correct the violation within the specified time frame, the next step is filing in court for an eviction hearing.  Following the eviction procedure carefully is the best way for landlords to protect their rights as well as their investment.

Violation Notice

A lease violation notice is different from an eviction notice as it’s not considered a legal document.  It can’t be used to remove a tenant from a property.  It can be used as a warning however, to let a tenant know they are violating the terms of their lease agreement.

Common reasons for sending this type of letter include noisy tenants, loud music, unauthorized pets, unauthorized occupants, even landscape violations.  If a tenant is supposed to mow their lawn and isn’t doing it, a violation notice might be a wise move.

Why use a violation notice?  For lesser violations, it may be worth sending a “warning” violation notice as a first step in addressing the problem with their tenant.  Landlords can describe the issue and ask the tenant nicely to remedy the situation.  Secondly, sending a letter creates a paper trail.  If the tenant won’t fix the problem, the landlord may decide to move forward with the more formal eviction process.

Non-Renewal Notice

Sometimes, things just don’t work out.  Maybe the landlord needs the unit to be vacant, wants to renovate or simply wishes to find a better tenant.  When a landlord decides to end a lease, they may send a lease non-renewal notice to their tenant.

Non-renewals shouldn’t be used for situations that require eviction notices.  They also shouldn’t be used to change the terms of a lease or increase the rent.  The purpose of this notice is simply to inform the tenants that they need to move out at the end of their current lease term as it is not being renewed.

A non-renewal notice is sent towards the end of a lease’s term (how much notice is required varies by state).  Each state has very specific requirements for issuing a non-renewal notice and ending a lease; there are strict laws for the number of days’ notice landlords must give their tenants.  While non-renewal notices must be given in writing, the landlord does not have to provide a reason for not renewing the lease.

Following the guidelines carefully is essential if you don’t want to end up in court.  If a tenant isn’t given enough notice or feels the lease is being ended illegally, they can file a complaint.  No landlord wants to be sued because they miscalculated or missed a deadline!

Final Thoughts

Although somewhat time consuming, it’s better to send a written notice when dealing with a serious issue.  Tenants get a clear explanation of the problem and how to fix it.  They also tend to take a written notice more seriously.

Regardless of the type of notice, it’s a good idea to send all notices by certified mail.  This gives the landlord a receipt, which can later be used as proof of having sent the letter.

Related Reading:

Eviction Notice Has Been Served… Now What?

Can Tenants Be Evicted For Being Too Loud? Landlord-Tenant Attorneys Weigh In

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