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Landlord/Tenant Law

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How to Deal With Being Evicted

For many people, an eviction notice sparks concern, fear, and even anger. There is no doubt that an eviction is a stressful event. However, tenants should know that they have certain rights. State laws require specific procedures to be followed that may give them additional time to find a new place to live or even prevent an eviction.

Know Your Rights

Tenants need to understand that they have rights, even if they are being evicted because of late rent payments or damage to the rental unit. Each state has laws that require landlords to follow concrete steps to evict.

Most states require the landlord to provide the tenant with written notice of eviction. The amount of notice differs based on the state and the reason for the eviction. For example, let's say someone is being evicted because of unpaid rent or a violation of their rental contract. Typically, they have only a few days to either pay the back rent or to vacate the rental unit. However, in eviction without cause, the landlord must usually give someone 30 – 60 days' notice, as required by state law.

What Happens If I Refuse to Leave?

The landlord can file a lawsuit to force you to leave the property. As with any lawsuit, you will be able to present defenses. Possible defenses may include:

  • The landlord failed to maintain the property
  • The eviction was brought as a means of retaliation

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. Therefore, in some situations, your landlord may be open to negotiating with you.

For example, you could offer to pay a portion of outstanding rent immediately as a show of good faith. Or, you could request additional time to vacate the rental unit in exchange for continued rent payments.

Seek the Advice of a Landlord Tenant Attorney

If your landlord is unresponsive or unreasonable, an attorney can help. A qualified landlord tenant lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Your attorney can either remain in your current home or find a new home in a way that is minimally stressful. Take the first step now and contact a local landlord-tenant attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.