How to write a letter to tell a tenant to move out

The infinite reasons for having to write an eviction letter to a tenant do not matter. Whether the tenant has broken the rules of the lease, has not paid rent or the landlord needs the property vacated, the landlord should write a letter that becomes a binding legal document. Each state has different eviction procedures, and landlords must research their local regulations before writing. In the event of a trial, the eviction letter will become evidence.

Write your return address in the page's centre. Your street address goes on the first line and under it, the city, state and Postcode and on the third line the date. Single-space the lines. This critical information enables the tenant to know how long he has before vacating the premises.

Skip four lines and at the left margin, write the tenant's name as it appears on the lease, the tenant's address, city, state and Postcode on three separate lines.

Describe the exact date and time by which the tenant must vacate the premises in the first sentence. Some locales require a month's delay after receipt of eviction letter while others permit immediate eviction. A few states require landlords to file the eviction letter with the court and the tenant simultaneously.

Explain, in the second sentence, why the tenant must leave the property, citing the specific instances of noncompliance with the lease. Also, explain what will happen if the tenant ignores the eviction letter. In certain states the eviction letter must give tenants the opportunity to comply with the lease. In other jurisdictions, landlords may evict "without cause," and often in month-to-month leases landlords reserve this right. A "no cause" eviction may become effective in 20 to 90 days.

Sign the letter with your full name and keep a copy for your records.

Since you need evidence that the tenant received the letter, either hand-deliver it with a witness or mail it as a certified letter in which you will receive a signed receipt.


Seek an attorney to guide the eviction process. Plan on what you'll say if the tenant calls or writes you. Plan to deal with an upset or angry tenant. Eviction can happen in 20 days if the landlord follows all rules perfectly and the tenant does not contest. However, if the tenant contests the eviction and has a valid defence, the eviction process may take several months before completion.


The eviction process varies, depending on locale so you must consult your local court for the specific language the eviction letter must contain. Your jurisdiction may have sample eviction letters online to print out. Do not turn off utilities or change locks to make tenants leave the property because the landlord may risk a countersuit for damages.

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About the Author

Patricia Hunt first found her voice as a fiction and nonfiction writer in 1974. An English teacher for over 27 years, Hunt's works have appeared in "The Alaska Quarterly Review," "The New Southern Literary Messenger" and "San Jose Studies." She has a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from American University and a doctorate in studies of America from the University of Maryland.

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