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Received a 3-Day Eviction Notice? Here's What To Do

George Simons | July 21, 2022

Getting evicted? You can fight it.

Summary: Is your landlord trying to evict you? Find out if the eviction notice is legal and what you can do to fight it.

Yikes. You've just been served a 3-day eviction notice, and you're already sweating bullets. Should you ignore it? Hide in the closet and hope they don't see you there? Secretly swap apartments with the neighbor in the night?

Unfortunately, this problem won't go away if you close your eyes and pretend you didn't see it. There's no time to waste. Instead, face your 3-day eviction notice head-on.

What is a 3-day eviction notice?

To better understand what a 3-day eviction notice is, you need to understand what it isn't. This isn't a threatening letter personally whipped up by your landlord, or a passive-aggressive Post-It note like the kind your roommates leave around. This isn't a non-compliance notice or a 30-day move-out request, either.

You may have received a lot of different letters from your landlord over time, and it's understandable if you're confused about what they all mean.

In order for the letter in question to be classified as an official 3-day eviction notice, it must be:

  • Ordered by a judge
  • Legally classified as a “Forcible Entry and Detainer” action

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Is a 3-day eviction notice legal?

All right, so that piece of paper on your door really is an eviction notice. But wait — before you start packing your bags and bracing yourself for a life of couch surfing, you have to know if your 3-day eviction notice is even legal.

Yes. A 3-day eviction notice is completely legal, as long as it has been ordered by a judge. A landlord can't simply decide they want you out and serve up a hasty demand. But they can file for an eviction if they have already:

  • Legally ended the tenancy
  • Given the tenant three days to move out with a Notice to Quit (except if the landlord has been endangered by the tenant, or if they've already provided a Notice of Nonpayment)
  • Informed the tenant that the eviction process is starting with an Original Notice

4 ways a landlord can end tenancy

A landlord can end a tenancy for a variety of reasons, like if a tenant hasn't paid rent for several months or has broken the terms of the rental agreement.

Here are four types of end-of-tenancy notices you may have received before the 3-day eviction notice:

1. 3-day notice of unpaid rent

Whoops, you're late on your rent payment...again!

This type of letter informs you of how much rent you owe and gives you three days to pay it in full. If you pay the amount within three days, you're golden. It's back to binge-watching Netflix and munching on popcorn in your home, sweet home. But if you don't pay rent, your tenancy ends.

2. 7-day notice of non-compliance

Snuck a dog into your apartment? Or remodeled without asking the landlord?

If you've broken the terms of your lease, you could be served a 7-day notice of non-compliance, meaning you have seven days to fix whatever the issue is. Find a new home for Fido or un-remodel that bedroom (Is that possible? Hope so!), and you're in the clear. But if you don't address the problem, your landlord can end tenancy.

3. No-reason notice

Huh? A no-reason notice? Yes, this is really a thing. If you're on a month-to-month housing contract, your landlord has the right to end tenancy for any reason — as long as they deliver the notice in a specified amount of time. In most states, that timeframe is at least 30 days before your next rent payment is due, but there are several exceptions. Verify the law in your state before taking action.

4. 3-day notice of clear and present danger

If the landlord feels threatened by a tenant in any way, they can end tenancy with a 3-day notice of clear and present danger. This type of notice is certainly vague. In fact, you might receive this type of notice if you've been the victim of an attack, or if you were in a fight.

In this case, you can file a domestic abuse protection order or tell the abuser that they will be reported for trespassing if they come back to your house. You'll need to provide a copy of this letter to your landlord to be in the clear.

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What is the 3-day eviction process?

So, how did you end up in this situation, anyway? Here's what had to happen before an eviction notice landed on your doorstep:

  1. Your landlord sends you a notice to end tenancy.
  2. Your landlord sends you a 3-Day Notice to Quit.
  3. The landlord files an eviction in court and sends you an Original Notice informing you that they have done so.
  4. The courts schedule a hearing and send you notice of the date of the trial.
  5. If you want to challenge the eviction, you have five days from the time of receiving the court date to send a written response to the court.
  6. You must attend the trial and present your case before the judge.
  7. The judge determines whether or not you should be evicted. (If you are evicted, a sheriff's deputy will come to your home to oversee the process of moving you out)

Keep in mind — the landlord cannot move you out of the house without a sheriff's deputy present, and you always have the right to share your experience in court before you get the boot.

What you can do about your eviction notice

Legalese got you down? If you've received a 3-day eviction notice, it's important to know that you have options.

Here's what you can do if you're being evicted:

  • Pay the full amount of rent that is overdue (if this is why you're being evicted)
  • Move out voluntarily
  • Make a rent payment plan or moving plan in agreement with the landlord
  • Temporarily stop the eviction by filing for bankruptcy
  • Wait for the sheriff's deputy to show up to your doorstep (“Oh! Why, hello! Wasn't expecting you so soon!”)
  • Try to fight the eviction in court

Don't ignore your 3-day eviction notice

Whatever you do, don't throw your 3-day eviction notice in the trash and hope everybody forgets about it. At this point, you've likely been served several other notices, and soon the sheriff's deputy will come a-knockin' if you don't take action — quickly.

But it's not a lost cause just yet. Contact the courts immediately if you believe you're being wrongfully evicted. And if not? Move out peacefully and avoid having an eviction on your record for the long haul.

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