Facing eviction. Now what?

real estate, tips for buyers and renters  /   /  By Aaron

It’s not something any of us wants to happen, but it may happen to you. What I’m talking about is eviction. Eviction happens for a lot of reasons, and not always because you’re a bad tenant (Usually that’s what it means, however). In the U.S., 3.4 million tenants were evicted in 2014. That’s a lot of people and no doubt a lot of varying reasons and circumstances.

Perhaps you’ve lost your job and fallen behind on your rent, or you’ve had medical costs come in and wipe out your savings and future earnings. Maybe the rent went up while you were living there. Possibly the landlord and yourself don’t get along, or you’re a bad tenant. There are a lot of reasons why a person or a family could be facing eviction. How you deal with the eviction is up to you, and there are different things you can do before and during to save yourself whatever hassles you can.

Firstly, before anything hits the eviction phase, let the landlord know if you’re having any financial issues

A good landlord will listen to you, and they may be able to work out something for you. It is trouble for a landlord to evict someone and find a new tenant, and if you have a good history up to that point it’s likely the landlord will want to keep you in. You may have lived in the property for a few years and always had your rent in on time, no complaints or issues, basically you’ve been a near perfect tenant. Something goes wrong, and it looks like you may have a few months of financial difficulties. A landlord that knows you and your history could look favorably on you, give you time to work out what you have to and allow you to pay what you owe in time.

The landlord may be the issue. Legal findings don’t always go the way of the landlord, especially if they’ve shown themselves to have broken the terms of the lease agreement. Before you decide anything, read the rental agreement carefully to find out if they have broken the terms of the lease. Some tenants think they’re tied with bad landlords, but this is untrue. It’s not just landlords that can take someone to court or sue them for a breach of a contract.

There is a process to being evicted. A landlord can’t legally change the locks or refuse you entry to the property. You must be given notice first. Notices include 30-day notice to vacate, usually issues with month-to-month leases. Pay the rent of quit notices, which give the tenant 3 to 5 days to pay the rent or move out. The is done in cases where the issue is rent overdue. Cure or quit notices that are similar to the pay rent or quit notice but are telling you to stop violating the terms of the lease within 3 to 5 days. The harshest notice is the unconditional quit notice, which demands the tenant moves right away.

If it goes further than this, you will be summoned to eviction court. Like a criminal court, you will be able to state your case and argue with the case against you. It is a bad idea not to show up to eviction court, as you lose any chance there is to defend yourself or find a fair judgement. Not showing up is like confirming your guilt and shows that you are irresponsible regardless of anything else.

There are reasons to withhold rent. These include when a landlord isn’t making repairs or is breaking the lease agreement. It happens, and if you can prove this it is likely, you can win the case. Courts listen to stories and take a lot into consideration. As I said, not all people threatened with eviction are bad people. Sometimes a person needs to stand their ground and force an issue to get the desired outcome.

An eviction will follow you around, staying on your credit and rental histories.  Being honest and attempting to work with issues to start with is recommended. Being responsible and doing what you need to do will be of great help to an outcome being more positive than negative for you. Avoiding eviction is important but take the time to consider your options. Don’t be silly and take out a payday loan to cover your rent, as this will probably end up with more people chasing you for money owed.

I wish you luck with your current and future rentals, whatever situations happen.

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