Landlord/Tenant Law

Do I Need a Lawyer if I'm Being Evicted?

Key Takeaways

  • Landlords must follow specific rules to evict tenants, and these rules can be complicated. If you’re not a lawyer, you might not know all the rules, and this could hurt your case.
  • If you go to court for an eviction, you have to follow the same procedures as a lawyer. This means you need to know how to present evidence and follow court rules, which can be hard without legal help.
  • Hiring an attorney can help you understand your rights, prepare your case, and negotiate with your landlord. This is especially important if you think you are being wrongfully evicted.

Eviction can be a very scary time. It can be a life-altering and devastating experience, especially if you have children. But do you need a lawyer if you are facing eviction? Technically, no. But should you? That depends.

While landlords must follow the rules and procedures to pursue an eviction against you, which vary from state to state, landlords file evictions in small claims court in many states. Small claims courts can be very user-friendly for non-lawyers. For this reason, it’s common for both landlords and tenants in these states to participate in eviction proceedings in small claims court without lawyers. In other states, however, landlord-tenant courts can be more challenging.

In addition to where you are, you must consider what is at stake. How much money is at stake? What happens to you if you do get evicted? What happens to your children if you do get evicted? Your job? Your life as you know it? An attorney can provide the advice, guidance, legal knowledge, negotiation skills, and general voice of authority you may need.

At the very least, tenants facing eviction should have a conversation with an experienced and local landlord-tenant lawyer. That conversation will help you assess your case and weigh the benefits of hiring an attorney or proceeding to court by yourself.

Eviction Lawyers for Tenants

If your landlord wants to evict you from your house or apartment, they must file a complaint against you in court and prove that you have done something to violate your rental agreement. In many states, however, eviction cases are filed in regular courts, governed by various rules and procedures under your state’s tenant laws. If you are appearing in court for eviction or any other lawsuit, you are held to the same standard as a lawyer. In other words, you are responsible for following all procedures like a lawyer.

For example, if you don’t know how to properly submit a document as evidence during the eviction proceedings, the judge might not allow you to present it at all, no matter how important it may be to your case. In these cases, hiring an eviction lawyer might be best.

Laws for Evicting Tenants

Landlords are required to follow specific rules for evicting tenants. For instance, the court shouldn’t evict you if your landlord doesn’t correctly serve you the eviction notice, usually with at least a 30-day notice of the court date for the eviction hearing. If you’re not a lawyer, you’re likely unaware of these rules, and your landlord may get away with wrongfully evicting you. A judge also can’t give you legal advice about handling an eviction, so you’re alone if you don’t know what to do in court.

Even in states where evictions occur in small claims courts designed for non-lawyers, landlord-tenant laws exist that you might not be aware of unless you are a landlord-tenant attorney.

For instance, if your landlord claims that you broke your rental agreement by having a pet in your apartment, you’ll need to show the court proof that you didn’t have a pet. You might need a witness to testify that you didn’t have a pet or pictures to show no pet-related damage to the apartment.

landlord-tenant lawyer can help you prepare your court case to avoid being wrongfully evicted using procedures and laws unfamiliar to a non-lawyer. They can also identify legal issues unique to your case, apply eviction laws, and help you assert your legal rights.

Hiring an Attorney for an Eviction

Perhaps most importantly, if you are being evicted, you and your family risk losing your home and having an eviction on your record, which can affect future housing options. You are not only facing the dilemma of finding another place to live, but you are likely facing extra costs for moving, disconnecting and reconnecting utilities, and paying a security deposit, among others.

Attorneys are also good negotiators. Working out a payment plan for unpaid rent or nonpayment of rent would be better for landlords than evicting a tenant and getting nothing. Similarly, modifying the lease agreement to better suit the circumstances of the rental property and your situation would be better than eviction.

Most importantly, the eviction process has to be fair and legal. While legal, one tenant against a powerful landlord and an attorney isn’t fair.  An attorney representing you will help even things. An attorney will also be especially beneficial if you don’t think you have violated your rental agreement or think your landlord is wrongfully evicting you. If you win, an attorney may be able to request damages, including your landlord paying for court costs and attorney’s fees.

The best way to prepare for eviction proceedings is to consult experienced legal counsel, especially when your home is at stake.

Was this helpful?

At LawInfo, we know legal issues can be stressful and confusing. We are committed to providing you with reliable legal information in a way that is easy to understand. Our pages are written by legal writers and reviewed by legal experts. We strive to present information in a neutral and unbiased way, so that you can make informed decisions based on your legal circumstances.