In New Mexico, evictions are regulated by state statutes. To evict a tenant, a landlord must first terminate the tenancy with a notice, and then eviction lawsuit against the tenant and win the lawsuit. Because evictions are a legal matter, the landlord must carefully follow all the rules and procedures set forth in the state statutes, or the eviction might not be valid.
This article will explain the basic rules and procedures landlords and property managers must follow when evicting a tenant in New Mexico.
A landlord who wants to evict a tenant before the tenancy has expired must have legal cause (a good reason). New Mexico law defines legal cause as the tenant's failure to pay rent or the tenant's violation of the lease or rental agreement. To evict the tenant for one of these reasons, the landlord must first terminate the rental agreement. The landlord does this by giving the tenant written notice. Different notices are needed depending on the reason for the eviction.
A landlord who wants to evict a tenant but does not have legal cause to do so must wait until the tenant's tenancy has expired before expecting the tenant to move. In some cases, the landlord might still need to give the tenant written notice to move.
A landlord who wants to end a month-to-month tenancy but does not have legal cause to evict the tenant, must give the tenant a written 30-day notice. This notice will inform the tenant of the landlord's desire to end the month-to-month tenancy and that that tenant must move out of the rental unit by the end of the 30 days. If the tenant does not move out of the rental unit by that time, then the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit against the tenant. (N.M. Stat. Ann. § 47-8-37 (2021).)
A landlord who wishes to end a fixed-term lease (such as a lease for one year) but does not have legal cause to evict the tenant, must wait until the lease has expired before expecting the tenant to move. Unless the terms of the lease specifically require it, the landlord is not required to give the tenant written notice to move. If the tenant does not move out of the rental unit by the end of the lease term, then the landlord should not accept further rent from the tenant and can file an eviction lawsuit against the tenant.
Even though a landlord might have good legal cause to evict a tenant, the tenant might still decide to fight the eviction. The tenant could have a good legal defense against the eviction, such as the landlord discriminating against the tenant or the landlord failing to maintain the rental unit premises. By fighting the eviction, the costs of the lawsuit could increase and the tenant could remain living in the rental unit for a longer period of time. Tenant Defenses to Evictions in New Mexico has more information.
A landlord must never try to force a tenant to move out of a rental unit. The only way the tenant can be removed from the rental unit is if the landlord wins an eviction lawsuit against the tenant. Even then, the only person authorized to remove the tenant is a law enforcement officer with a valid court order. New Mexico law has made it illegal for the landlord to try to remove the tenant in any other way, and the tenant can sue the landlord for an illegal eviction.
After the tenant has been evicted, the landlord might find that the tenant has left behind personal property. The landlord must hold on to the property for at least three days after the eviction has occurred, allowing the tenant time to claim the property. If the tenant does not claim the property by the end of three days, then the landlord can dispose of the property, through sale or otherwise. (N.M. Stat. Ann. § 47-8-34.1(C) (2021).)
Landlords must carefully follow all the rules and procedures required by New Mexico law when evicting a tenant; otherwise, the eviction might not be valid. Although these rules and procedures can seem burdensome to the landlord, they are there for a reason. Evictions often occur very quickly, and the end result is serious: the tenant has lost a place to live. The rules help ensure the eviction is justified and that the tenant has enough time to find a new home.