Can a landlord evict a tenant with little to no notice? What circumstances support a legal eviction if the tenant hasn’t done anything wrong? These are questions that arise for tenants who find themselves evicted with a short period of time to move out.
Although many landlords provide a 30-day notice, some tenants need more time to find a new home. That’s what several tenants had to deal with in early 2019 when an entire apartment building was evicted so the new building owner could perform renovations. Lawyers say the landlord acted legally by providing 30-day notices, but tenants didn’t feel they were given enough time to find a new place to live.
Move-out timeframes differ depending on circumstances
Although state laws govern the general amount of notice a landlord must provide a tenant for an eviction, the exact time frame for each tenant will vary. Factors that determine the required amount of notice include:
In Pennsylvania, for example, if a tenant is late with the rent even by one day, the landlord can begin the eviction process for nonpayment of rent under the Pennsylvania Landlord-Tenant Act of 1951. The first notice given to the tenant must be a “Notice to Quit,” which gives the tenant ten days to pay the rent or vacate the property. If the tenant pays the rent within ten days, the eviction is void.
Ten days isn’t much time to find a new place to live, but when a tenant violates their lease agreement, they’re given a short time frame to move out. However, when a tenant hasn’t violated the lease and the landlord wants to terminate the lease early, they usually need to give more notice.
Generally speaking, in the absence of a lease violation, landlords are required to provide the same amount of notice as the tenant’s cycle of rent. For example, if a tenant pays rent on a monthly basis, the landlord must give the tenant a month’s notice (unless otherwise agreed to in the lease).
Most leases specify contingencies for early termination
For a landlord to break the lease early without repercussions, the lease should specify a contingency matching the reason the landlord wants to break the lease. For example, many leases explicitly allow for early termination due to selling the property, renovations, or If the tenant wants to move into the unit.
Why landlords don’t give more notice than what’s legally required
Naturally, tenants would like as much advance notice as possible before being evicted – especially when the eviction is not their fault – but that’s not always practical for the landlord. Landlords need to protect their investment property first and giving more notice than legally required can backfire.
If a tenant is being evicted for a lease violation, excess notice gives the tenant more time to potentially destroy the property. Regardless of why a tenant is being evicted, giving extra notice postpones the landlord’s ability to re-rent the unit and start collecting rent. Every extra day of notice a landlord gives to a tenant is one more day of lost income.
Landlords might give extra notice in rare situations
There are some situations where a landlord might give a tenant extra time to move out. In the case of the entire apartment building that was evicted to perform renovations, the new building owners could have provided an extra two weeks to a month as a courtesy. Extra notice is a morally decent thing for a landlord to do in a situation with reliable tenants who pay on time and haven’t done anything wrong.
Although it’s the courteous thing to do in some situations, landlords aren’t likely to give tenants more notice than the law requires. Landlords became property investors to generate income and see their properties as assets, not charities.
If you’re being evicted, talk to a lawyer
Regardless of what your lease agreement says, if you’re being evicted, consult with a lawyer before presuming your landlord is violating your rights. In some cases, an eviction might not seem legal, but only a lawyer can tell you if your rights have been violated or if your eviction is perfectly legal.