An eviction notice has different meaning depending upon where you live. In some states, this is the same as an eviction complaint. Often, though this is a non-binding early warning of lease violations or putting the tenant on “notice” that they are doing something that violates the lease. This would include, but is not limited to, late or missed rent payments. An eviction notice in similar to a notice to quit (which primarily applies to month to month leases).
This document is typically served by a process server, who is a neutral third party, not involved in the property. That insures that proper notice was given to the tenant and eliminates either party from coming back and claiming they were not notified of the problem. The notice should spell out the lease conditions that have been violated and the amount of time that the tenant has to fix the situation. State laws typically govern how long the tenant will have to make the corrections. For missed rent payments , it is typically 5-10 days. In the absence of any state laws over this particular issue, I would give the tenant 10 days to fix the problem.
If the tenant still refuses to comply with the eviction notice details or does not rectify the situation to the landlord’s satisfaction, the next step is filing an eviction against the tenant. This initial process of serving the tenant with an eviction notice will be extremely important once you are in court. Often a tenant will try to claim that they did not know they were violating the lease. A landlord can then produce the notice of eviction that was served earlier showing that the landlord notified the tenant of the problem and the tenant did nothing. This clear example of “I told you what you were doing wrong and you did not fix the problem” can show the eviction judge that you tried to work through this problem prior to filing the unlawful detainer.
Another effective way to use the notice to evict as leverage is to have your eviction attorney write and send the letter. Although this will cost some fees, it will look much more professional, menacing, and serious when it comes from a reputable eviction attorney.
Remember that an eviction notice must be very specific in what you want the tenant to correct. It is also, generally, not a legal document that alone will allow you to physically remove the tenant from the premises. Used properly, though, it can be a useful tool.