How to Serve an Eviction Notice: Step-by-Step Guide

When faced with a tenant who is failing to pay rent or otherwise breaching the terms of their tenancy, a landlord has the legal right to issue an eviction notice, formally known as a Notice to Quit. With that being said, evicting a tenant isn’t always a straightforward process, and there are a few steps and protocols landlords must follow to make sure the eviction is completed correctly, and in compliance with the law. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help landlords navigate serving an eviction notice.

1. Read the Laws & Regulations in Your Area

Familiarizing yourself with the regulations in your area is the first critical step when it comes to evicting a tenant. Before taking any other action, it’s important to have an understanding of the local laws and guidelines surrounding evictions. Each state has different laws regarding the eviction process, including; the reasons allowed for eviction, the procedures for serving notice, and the legal action necessary to process an eviction.

2. File the Necessary Documents & File an Eviction With the Court

Once you’ve reviewed the laws in your area, prepare to file the necessary documents with the court in your county. You will need to fill out and submit a complaint and a summons, both of which are available for free with the help of an attorney. Once the court issues the summons, you’ll be responsible for serving the document to the tenant, so make sure to include the tenant’s full name and address, as well as a clear explanation of the complaint.

3. Prepare the Eviction Notice

Next, you’ll need to prepare a written eviction notice which outlines the violations or offenses of the tenant. The exact contents of the notice can vary by state, so be sure to check the regional requirements before preparing the document. Generally, the notice should include date of service, amount of rent due, and when the tenant has to vacate the property.

4. Obtain a Written Record of Service

When it comes to serving the eviction notice, you must provide proof that the tenant has actually received the document. The best way to do so is to obtain a written record of service, such as a notarized affidavit of service or proof of service document.

5. Serve the Eviction Notice

Once you’ve taken all the necessary preparations and paperwork, you’re ready to officially serve the tenant with the eviction notice. This process can vary depending on local regulations, so be sure to read up on your state’s rules and regulations before proceeding. In most cases, the tenant must be served the notice in-person via an authorized process server or law enforcement officer.

6. Monitor the Timeline of the Eviction Process

It’s important to monitor and stay up-to-date on the timeline of the eviction process as you move forward. As such, there are a few key dates landlords should be aware of when striving to complete a successful eviction.

  • The date the eviction notice was served to the tenant.
  • The date the tenant’s answer is due.
  • The date of the court hearing.
  • The date the tenant’s rights to appeal.
  • The date of written order for removal.

7. Attend the Hearing & Prepare a Written Order for Removal

Once the tenant has decided whether or not to contest the eviction, the court will set a date for an eviction hearing. As the landlord, you have the opportunity to present your case before a judge, and the tenant also has a chance to plead their defense. Once the judge has made their final ruling, you can legally have the tenant removed from the property by having the court issue a written order to remove the tenant.

8. Have the Tenant Removed From the Property

Once the court issues the written order for removal, you’ll need to enlist the help of a county sheriff or a process server to physically remove the tenant from the property. To do this, they’ll need a copy of the written order of removal for the tenant, so be sure to obtain a copy from the court prior to enlisting the help of a sheriff or process server.

9. Change the Locks or Uninstall Security Systems

Once the tenant has been formally and lawfully removed from the property, it’s important to separate them from all of their belongings. Depending on your state’s regulations, you may have the right to take possession of the tenant’s possessions and store them elsewhere until the tenant can reclaim their property. If there is a security system installed on the property, you’ll need to have it uninstalled and the locks changed to avoid the tenant from entering the property as well.

10. File for a Money Judgment & An Attorney to Help

In addition to handling the filing of the paperwork and serving the tenant, landlords may also be responsible for collecting any back rent or damages beyond the recovery of possession of the property. If the tenant has not paid any rent or fees, or if they have caused any damages, you may apply for a money judgment to receive reimbursement for those expenses. If you have any questions about the process, consider hiring an attorney to help you navigate the eviction process and ensure it’s done correctly and in compliance with the law.


The eviction process can be a lengthy, time-consuming process, but it’s important to follow all the steps carefully in order to legally remove a tenant from your property. As a landlord, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the local laws and regulations, make sure you file the right paperwork, and maintain written records of service to ensure the entire process is completed correctly and in compliance with the law. The most important takeaway is that it’s critical to consult an experienced attorney to help you through the eviction process, and to make sure that it is done properly, quickly, and legally.

Armed with this step-by-step guide to evicting a tenant, you should now have a better understanding of the procedures and protocols that come along with evicting a tenant. So if you need to serve an eviction notice to a tenant, you’ll be prepared and ready to take the necessary action.

What happens if a tenant ignores an eviction notice?

If a tenant ignores an eviction notice, the landlord may take legal action to force the tenant out of the property. Depending on the jurisdiction, this may involve filing an eviction lawsuit with the court or a request for a court order which forces the tenant to leave the premises. The landlord may also be able to evict the tenant without a court order in some areas. The specific steps vary by jurisdiction, so it’s important to contact an experienced attorney before beginning the eviction process.

What can a landlord do if a tenant refuses to leave after an eviction notice?

If a tenant refuses to leave after an eviction notice has been issued, a landlord can file an unlawful detainer (or eviction) lawsuit. In the lawsuit, the landlord will request that the court intervene in the eviction process and order the tenant to vacate the property. If the landlord prevails in court, the court will issue a writ of possession (or eviction order), which will allow the landlord to physically remove the tenant (with the assistance of a sheriff or constable) if the tenant still refuses to leave.

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