How To Serve an Eviction Notice

Last Updated: March 1, 2024 by Roberto Valenzuela

To serve an eviction notice, landlords must first determine if there are grounds for eviction. Once established, landlords must then draft an eviction notice, serve the notice, and get proof of the notice’s delivery.

Determine the Grounds for Eviction

The grounds for eviction determine the legally required amount of advance notice. These are the most common grounds for eviction:

  • Nonpayment of rent
  • Substantial damage to the rental property
  • Lease violations
  • Illegal activity on the rental property
  • Holdover tenancy (refusing to move out after valid termination of the lease)

Eviction for illegal activity usually allows the shortest amount of advance notice. This can be as few as 24 hours, as in Oregon. Lease violations often require between 14 and 30 days of advance notice. Other grounds, like nonpayment of rent, usually fall somewhere between.

Curable and Incurable Grounds for Eviction

Most grounds for eviction are “curable.” This means they lose legal force if the tenant takes the proper corrective actions. As such, many eviction notices might not lead to an actual eviction. “Incurable” grounds mean the tenant cannot take corrective action to avoid eviction.

In general, nonpayment of rent is always curable through payment of the full past due balance. Lease violations usually also are curable, especially for a first-time violation.

Illegal activity is an incurable grounds for eviction. So are holdover tenancy and severe damage to the rental property. In many states, repeating the same lease violation is incurable.


Whether a grounds for eviction is curable is usually the same across jurisdictions. Lease violations are the major exception. For example, in Louisiana, the landlord decides whether any particular violation is curable. Alabama, by contrast, always allows a chance to cure for certain lease violations.

Draft a Legally Compliant Eviction Notice

An eviction notice isn’t valid without the proper information for legal compliance. Notice must specify details about the landlord, tenant, grounds for eviction, and timeline.

The following steps help ensure the legal compliance of an eviction notice:

  1. Use the full name of the receiving tenant(s), and their address of record, if known
  2. Specify the termination date of the lease or tenancy
  3. Specify the grounds for eviction, and (if curable) the action(s) required to avoid eviction
  4. Fill in the full address of the rental premises
  5. Provide updated/current address and phone number for the landlord and/or manager
  6. Print name and sign the notice

Serve the Eviction Notice Using a Valid Method

An eviction notice isn’t valid unless served (delivered) using an acceptable method according to state law. All states consider personal service (hand delivery to the tenant in person) valid. This is the legal gold standard.

Personal service may be difficult, or impossible, if a tenant is trying to avoid eviction. Every state thus recognizes other valid methods for serving an eviction notice. Acceptable ways to serve a notice vary greatly from state to state. However, most states allow one or more of the following alternative methods:

  • Hand delivery to someone on the property of suitable age and discretion who can accept the notice on the tenant’s behalf (sometimes only a member of the tenant’s family)
  • Posting the notice to a conspicuous place on the premises, ideally the main entry door
  • Delivery through registered or certified mail, with the signed return receipt proving service
  • Electronic service (only valid in a few states, and usually only when agreed to in writing, by both parties)

Mailed service often requires extra advance notice to account for variable delivery times. In most cases, such as in Massachusetts, this is three calendar days.

Who Is Allowed To Serve an Eviction Notice?

In most cases, the question of who can serve an eviction notice isn’t a legal problem. Most states allow the landlord to serve an eviction notice personally. The landlord almost always has the option to delegate the task to anybody over age 18, as well.

While rarely a legal requirement, the landlord may hire a professional process server to deliver an eviction notice. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a private party. Sometimes the local police department will offer service of process for a fee. This is a good way to guarantee effective service in a sensitive situation.

Some places do require professional process service to deliver an eviction notice. Nevada is the most prominent jurisdiction with such a requirement.


A valid eviction cannot happen without proper notice, properly served. This can be done by the landlord, but only an attorney guarantees legal compliance.

Get Proof of Service

Valid grounds, a compliant notice, and proper service do not guarantee eviction. Courts will not evict a tenant without proof of valid service.

Fortunately, in most cases this is straightforward. These are the most common means to prove service, by method of service:

  • Hand Delivery: Dated certificate of service signed by the tenant or other responsible person
  • Delivery by Mail: Signed return receipt
  • Posting To the Premises: Signed and dated certificate of service completed by the landlord; dated photographs of the posted notice often are also preferred
  • Electronic Service: Dated read receipt or reply from the tenant

Once the landlord has proof of service, the eviction is in process and the tenant must move out by the specified date. If the tenant hasn’t moved out after the required notice period, the landlord can get a court order to have the tenant removed by force.