As a landlord in New Mexico, you don’t ever want to evict a tenant. The process can be stressful, and time-consuming. Also, having to re-rent your property is usually difficult and costly. That said, sometimes evicting a tenant is necessary.
If landlords must evict their tenants, they need to follow the specific eviction process. In New Mexico, the eviction laws are contained in the Uniform Owner-Resident Relations Act.
In this post, we are providing an overview of the New Mexico eviction process.
1. New Mexico Eviction Notice
To begin the New Mexico eviction process, landlords must first terminate the tenancy. As the landlord, you can only do that by serving the tenant with an eviction notice. The type of eviction notice you serve depends on the reason for the eviction.
In New Mexico, legal reasons for tenant eviction include:
- Failure by a tenant to pay rent
- Violation of the lease agreement
- Failure by a tenant to move out after the lease agreement expires
- Violation of the health, safety and housing codes
- Illegal activity
Once landlords have a legal reason for the eviction, they must then serve them with the appropriate notice.
The notice depends on the reason for the eviction:
Nonpayment of Rent
For nonpayment of rent, landlords must serve a tenant with a 3-Day Notice to Pay to begin the eviction. The notice will give the tenant the option to either pay the due rent or to move out. If the notice expires without the tenant taking either option, as the landlord, you can move to court and file a summons and complaint.
Curable Lease Violations
For a curable lease violation, you must serve the tenant with a 7-Day Notice to Comply. This will give a tenant exactly seven days to either correct the issue or move out. Lease violations that fall under this category include having an unauthorized pet and exceeding the rental property limit.
It is important to note that if the tenant commits the same violation within 6 months after the first one, you won’t be required to give the tenant an opportunity to fix the violation. You can move directly to court and file for a summons and complaint.
For illegal activities, a landlord must serve the tenant a 3-Day notice to Quit. In New Mexico, illegal activity includes sexual assault, theft, unlawful use of a deadly weapon, and intentional rental property damage exceeding $1,000.
For habitability violations, a landlord must serve the tenant with a 7-Day Notice to Comply. This will give your tenant 7 days to correct the issue impacting a health, building, safety or housing code. Examples of material health and safety violations include damage to the electrical wiring, providing harbor for bugs or rodents, or letting trash pile up inside the unit.
If the tenant commits the same violation within a 6-month period, as the landlord, you should serve the tenant with a 7-Day Notice to Quit. If the tenant remains in the unit after the notice period expires, you can proceed with the eviction.
For tenants that ‘hold over’, you must still provide them notice prior to beginning the New Mexico eviction action. The amount of notice period depends on the type of tenancy in operation.
If your tenants are on a weekly agreement, you will have to serve them a 7-Day Notice to Quit prior to moving to court.
If your tenants are on a monthly lease agreement, you’ll have to serve them a 30-Day Notice to Quit.
If your tenants are on a yearly lease or rental agreement, you must provide them with a 6-month Notice to Quit.
2. Summons & Petition
The next step is to file a petition for restitution in the appropriate District or Magistrate Court. This costs $132 to file in Bernalillo County.
The District Court can serve the renter by using any of the following methods:
- Give a copy to the tenant in person.
- Leave a copy where the tenant is currently found.
- Mail a copy to the tenant’s last known address.
- Leave a copy with someone of at least 15 years who shares residency with the tenant.
- Leave a copy with the tenant’s employer if all the aforementioned methods fail.
The summons and petition must be served to the tenant anywhere between 7 and 10 days prior to the eviction.
3. Court Hearing & Judgment
In New Mexico, tenants aren’t required to file a formal answer with the court as a condition to appear at the hearing, but they can choose to do so anyway.
If the tenant doesn’t show up for the eviction hearing, the judge will issue a default judgment in your favor.
However, if the tenant chooses to answer, then they may state any of the following in their defense:
- You tried to evict them through ‘self-help’ means, such as by shutting down utilities, removing their belongings, or locking the tenant out.
- The eviction was retaliatory after they reported you to the relevant government agency for habitability issues.
- The eviction was discriminatory. Protected classes in New Mexico include sex, ancestry, color, national origin, age, race, childbirth, disability, and gender identity.
- The eviction wasn’t procedural. For an eviction to be successful, landlords must follow the proper eviction procedure as outlined in the law. Serving an improper written notice, for example, would deem the eviction process in New Mexico unlawful and you may need to do it all over again.
If the ruling is in your favor, the court will issue you with a writ of restitution. But whichever way the ruling goes, either party may file an appeal.
4. Writ of Restitution
This is the tenant’s final notice to leave. It gives them an opportunity to move out before being forcefully evicted by the sheriff.
After the writ of restitution is issued, the sheriff will have anywhere between 3 and 7 days to evict the tenant.
If the tenant leaves some of their belongings behind, you’ll be responsible for storing them for 30 days. If the tenant doesn’t claim their belongings within this timeframe after notifying them, you can go ahead and dispose it of.
Bottom Line: New Mexico Eviction Process
In order for an eviction to be successful in New Mexico, landlords must follow the New Mexico eviction laws and the New Mexico eviction process carefully.
This means following these 4 steps:
- Eviction notice
- Summons & Petitions
- Court Hearing & Judgement
- Writ of Restitution
Disclaimer: This blog isn’t a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney. Laws change and this information may not be updated at the time you read it. For specific questions regarding this content or for help regarding any aspect of your property management needs, Blue Door Realty can help.