Understand How an Eviction Works and What You Can Do if You Are a Tenant

No tenant ever wants to receive an eviction notice. But if it does happen, you need to arm yourself with the correct information and resources required to best deal with it.

Firstly, you need to learn about the eviction process and the grounds for an appeal. Every state has its own eviction laws, and there are standard procedures that landlords must follow while evicting a tenant. The onus is on the tenant to understand their role and rights.

In this handy guide, you will learn how the eviction process works and the steps you can take as a renter.

Reasons for Eviction

There are many reasons that a landlord can serve an eviction notice to a tenant and take steps to remove them from the property legally. In most cases, eviction notices are the final step to resolving a conflict between the landlord and the tenant, so they are not unexpected or sudden.

The legal reasons for eviction are usually the following:

  • The tenant has not paid rent.
  • The tenant has flouted the terms of the lease.
  • The tenant has engaged in illegal activity on the property.
  • The tenant has damaged the property extensively.
  • The landlord does not wish to renew the property lease.

Illegal reasons for eviction include:

  • The landlord discriminates against the tenant based on race, religion, nationality, color, sex, disability, and other factors.
  • The landlord is retaliating in response to a complaint or legal action against them.
  • The tenant has not paid the rent due to an unaddressed health or safety issue on the property.

Some landlords evict without cause. Local laws differ regarding the period of notice that must be provided, but it is commonly between 30 and 60 days.

How The Eviction Process Works

1. Written Notice

Landlords must serve renters with a written eviction notice. Generally, a formal eviction notice is served after one or more warnings are previously issued.

It is only the first step in the eviction process, so you will not be thrown out immediately. Check your lease to see if the notice violates the lease terms. Talk to your landlord about solutions to resolve the conflict or send a written response.

State laws dictate how an eviction notice must be served: for example, in person or via certified mail. So look this up to see if the notice was served legally.

2. Court Filing

If a tenant does not vacate the leased property or resolve the conflict before the date mentioned on the notice, the next step is a court filing at a local eviction court. If the tenant owes the landlord months of rent, the landlord may opt for a small claims court.

If the process goes to court, you will need legal representation to serve your best interests. In many cases, it is cheaper to vacate the property if you don’t have any legal standing to stay there.

3. Eviction Hearing

The eviction hearing will be on a date set by the court. Only a court can evict a renter formally.

If you are being illegally evicted and you can prove it, then you may get a ruling in your favor. If you cannot, there is still a little hope in the appeal period.

4. Lockout

If the court rules that the eviction may go through, there will be an appeal period of around ten days. You can appeal the eviction, or the process goes on to the lockout stage, and you need to move out.

On the day of eviction, a sheriff will visit the property and make sure it is vacated. The locks will be changed, and your remaining belongings will be removed.

Dealing With the Eviction Process

The best way to deal with an eviction process is to avoid it altogether. Communicate with your landlord and work out alternate solutions to your problems.

But if you are being ousted, here’s what you can do:

Aid During an Eviction

Dealing with the eviction process can be very difficult. Fortunately, the Continuum of Care Program, run by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), helps people find stable housing environments.

Non-profit organizations help out by offering emergency assistance for back rent, landlord and renter mediation, and referrals to free legal counsel. They can also help evicted tenants find new rentals.

If you need free legal help, you can also visit the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) and get aid in your state.

Check if your state has an eviction hotline that will connect you to local resources, such as housing grants.

Finding A New Residence

If you have the money to move into a new house or apartment, find one before the lockout date. Check out short-term housing options and short-term storage solutions.

Get in touch with your support network to see if someone can help you with a temporary housing solution while you find a new one.

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