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How To Deal With Being Evicted

Key Takeaways:

  • Your landlord can evict you if you violate the terms of your rental agreement. Not paying your rent or doing something illegal in your apartment are common reasons for being evicted.
  • Your landlord must follow state and local laws when they evict you. 
  • An eviction is illegal when your landlord doesn't follow the law or evicts you for a retaliatory or discriminatory reason.

An eviction notice sparks concern, fear, and even anger for many people. There is no doubt that an eviction is a stressful event. But as a tenant, you should know that you have certain rights. Landlords must follow the specific procedures required by state law. This process may give renters more time to find a new home or prevent an eviction.

Landlord-tenant laws differ from state to state and even city to city. If you are facing an eviction, your first move should be to contact an experienced landlord-tenant attorney. A lawyer can safeguard your rights and ensure you receive fair treatment.

When Can My Landlord Evict Me?

You likely signed a rental agreement when you moved into your rental property. That agreement will spell out when your landlord can evict you. Common lease violations that can lead to your eviction include the following:

  • Non-payment of rent
  • Illegal activity
  • Assaulting or threatening other tenants or property employees
  • Having a pet when not allowed
  • Subletting without permission

It’s essential to understand your lease terms before you move in.

Know Your Rights

Even if you violate your lease for one of the reasons above, you must understand that you have rights. These rights apply even if your landlord is evicting you because of late rent payments or damage to the rental unit. Each state has laws landlords must follow to evict someone.

Landlords must give a tenant a written eviction notice. The amount of notice differs based on the state and the reason for the eviction. For example, let’s say you are being evicted because of non-payment of rent or violating your lease agreement. Typically, you have only a few days to pay your back rent or vacate the rental unit. But in eviction without cause, the landlord must usually give you 30 to 60 days’ notice.

What Happens if I Refuse To Leave?

The landlord can file an eviction lawsuit to get a court order for you to leave the property. If the landlord files a lawsuit, you can present a defense at the court hearing. Possible defenses in an eviction case include:

  • The landlord failed to maintain the property
  • The landlord is retaliating against you for complaining about issues
  • The landlord is discriminating against you

Can I Negotiate?

Remember, an eviction costs your landlord money. The landlord must pay legal fees if you contest the eviction. Plus, they must secure a new tenant to begin collecting rent money again. So your landlord may be open to negotiating with you in some situations.

For example, you could offer to pay part of the outstanding rent immediately as a show of good faith. You could also work out a payment plan. Or, you could ask for extra time to vacate the rental unit in exchange for continued rent payments.

Can I Fight an Eviction in Court?

You may be able to sue your landlord for an illegal eviction. Your landlord must follow your state eviction laws when they evict you. For instance, they can only change your locks with notice. They also can’t evict you for retaliatory or discriminatory reasons. You may win in court if your landlord doesn’t follow these laws.

Where Can I Get Help?

There’s help available if you need help paying your rent. Many areas have rental assistance programs that can help you avoid eviction. Local tenant rights groups and legal aid societies can provide low-income people with legal assistance. Many of these legal services groups can also help people who aren’t native English speakers.

Get Advice From a Landlord-Tenant Attorney

The eviction process and the pressure of finding a new home can be stressful for renters. If your landlord is unresponsive or unreasonable, you may need legal help. An attorney experienced in landlord-tenant law can give you legal advice. They can explain the law and represent you in an eviction hearing.

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