What Is a Notice to Terminate Tenancy?

Terrie Brockmann
Terrie Brockmann
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In most areas, landlords or mortgage holders must go through legal channels to evict their tenants. The notice to terminate tenancy is one of the most common legal documents that landlords use to evict tenants. Generally, there are two types of notices: with cause and without cause. Local, regional, and national laws and regulations usually govern the use of these notices and determine what factors are necessary to obtain a notice to terminate tenancy.

Landlords typically legally seek to evict a tenant for one or more reasons. One of the most common reasons is failure to pay rent, but there are other reasons that the courts recognize as termination with cause. Sometimes tenants violate the terms of the lease or contract. This may be a violation such as having a pet when the lease states that no pets are allowed. Other violations may include serious violations like property damage.

Frequently, the notice to terminate tenancy allows for the tenant to correct the offense, such as pay the delinquent rent or remove the pets. Other legal actions do not offer any leniency. Landlords usually rely on these harsher notices to evict problem tenants. For example, if a tenant is using or dealing drugs on the premises, a landlord may seek to terminate the tenancy without any leniency. In some jurisdictions, the courts call this an "unconditional notice to terminate tenancy."

Although a landlord usually has a reason for terminating a tenancy, he or she may decide to terminate a tenancy without cause. There are many legal stipulations that factor into this type of eviction, and a tenant should investigate whether the eviction violates the conditions of the lease. Generally, the government law or regulations take precedence over a lease, so landlords and tenants need to be cognizant of the legal requirements.

In most jurisdictions, even though a landlord obtains a notice to terminate tenancy, he or she cannot physically remove the tenant's belongings. Typically, a landlord needs to have an officer of the law, such as a sheriff, escort the tenant from the property. Landlords and tenants should check with the local laws and regulations governing this aspect of the tenancy termination.

In the process of tenancy termination, generally, the notice of termination is the first step. A landlord frequently petitions the court for a summons, which an officer of the law serves to the tenant. At this time, the tenant may contact the landlord to determine if the problem can be resolved. If the tenant and the landlord cannot work out a settlement, then the case may proceed to the courts, including small claims court. Both the landlord and the tenant should take any relevant paperwork and other information, including their copy of the notice to terminate tenancy, to court to plead their case effectively.

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