What is a Writ of Eviction?

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

A writ of eviction is a written notification of eviction proceedings given from a landlord to a tenant. In many regions, posting or mailing a writ of eviction is a mandatory part of the eviction process. Delivering a writ of eviction to the tenant is usually the first step in eviction.

A 30 day notice of eviction posted on an apartment door.
A 30 day notice of eviction posted on an apartment door.

In most jurisdictions, a writ of eviction must include certain information about the issue. The names of any tenants must be specified, the property address must be included, and the name of the landlord is usually also required. The writ will also need to list the date of delivery as well as the period of time before eviction proceedings commence. The notice period may last anywhere from 24 hours to more than 30 days, depending on regional laws and the manner of the violation. Most writs will also include a list of the violations that have prompted the writ.

In many cases, a writ can be dismissed if the tenant and landlord can work out an agreement that is equitable and legal for both. Issues such as late rent, a tenant additional to the lease, or violating minor terms of the lease through behavior or actions can often be resolved. Generally, a writ serves as a warning to startle tenants into keeping their part of the rental agreement, and many landlords are happy to work out a solution if one is possible. Major violations, such as a crime committed on the property, destruction of the property, or use of the property for illegal activities, may not be remediable.

Some legal experts suggest that a landlord, or a legal representative, hand the actual writ of eviction to the tenant in person. Mailing a writ of eviction, or posting it on the door, is often permitted, but can be tricky if the case goes to court. In many regions, a landlord must prove that the tenant received the document, which can be easily done by bringing it in person and having the tenant sign a receipt for the paperwork. A case runs the risk of being thrown out if a landlord can't refute a claim by the tenant that he or she did not receive the writ.

For tenants that have received a writ of eviction without cause, fast legal action may be necessary. Tenants who are not late on their rent and have not violated their lease in any way may still be victims of eviction proceedings by bad landlords. Experts recommend contacting an eviction lawyer, or legal aid society, immediately, and bringing copies of the lease and the writ to any meetings. For tenants who have violated their lease in some manner, the situation may still be resolved by working with the landlord to resolve the issue.

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica is passionate about drama and film. She has many other interests, and enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics in her role as a wiseGEEK writer.

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Discussion Comments


@Vincenzo -- If a landlord wants to make sure, then he or she should pony up a little cash and make sure the writ of eviction is served on the tenant by a process server or a sheriff's deputy.

That step usually won't be necessary, but at least you will know that the job was done and a tenant can't claim in court that the notice was never received.


That is called a notice to quit in some states, but the message is the same (i.e., get out). As the article points out, there are real problems if the tenant never receives the notice. That happens rarely, of course, but what can landlords do to make sure an eviction notice is actually served on the tenant?

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