An eight-letter word — eviction — can frighten any apartment tenant. If a landlord threatens to evict you, it can trigger a variety of problems. But if you are facing eviction, you’ve got some solutions at your disposal.
The eviction process differs from state to state. So, if you’re an apartment renter, you’ll find that the laws about evictions and your rights under those laws aren’t the same in California as they are in Texas, for instance.
What are some of the reasons you can be evicted from an apartment? According to MSLegalServices.org, they include:
- You failed to pay the rent when it was due.
- You broke at least one of the terms and conditions of the lease.
- You damaged the apartment.
- You refused to leave your apartment after the lease expired.
Keep in mind that a landlord can’t notify you of an eviction by phone or email. The notice typically must be given to you in writing either by certified mail or in person.
In many cases, an eviction notice is issued for failure to pay rent. If that’s your situation, you can stop the landlord from going through with the eviction by paying the rent you owe.
When you’ve received an eviction notice for any reason, this doesn’t mean you’re automatically going to be kicked out of your apartment. After you’ve gotten an eviction notice, the landlord must go to court to make it official. Once the matter goes to court, the landlord still must win the case and obtain a court order to legally evict you.
Legal Assistance of Western New York recommends that if you’ve been served with eviction papers, you probably should go to court to fight the action. It’s wise to contact an attorney or a legal aid service before you head to court, though.
After the eviction case ends up in court, there are a few ways you can defend yourself, according to Legal Assistance of Western New York. For instance, if your case involves nonpayment of rent, some of your defenses are:
- The landlord failed to demand that you pay the rent.
- You paid the rent. (Obviously, you must provide proof.)
- You’re withholding payment of the rent because the landlord refuses to make repairs.
If the judge or jury rules in your favor, then the eviction case against you will be thrown out and you can stay in the apartment. But if the judge or jury agrees with the landlord, you’ve got to move out. You’ll then be given a certain amount of time (such as 72 hours) to pack up and leave.
Keep in mind that either you or the landlord can appeal the court decision.
Refusing to move out after you’ve been formally evicted can result in the landlord being able to have a law enforcement officer kick you out and remove your belongings. At this point, it’s almost impossible to prevent being evicted.
Keep in mind that how your eviction case is handled, such as how much time you’re given to fight a court decision or how much time you have to get out of your apartment, will vary from state to state.
If you do wind up getting kicked out of your apartment, remember that the eviction will be part of your rental history, making it much more difficult to rent another apartment. An eviction normally stays on your rental record for seven years, according to Experian, a credit-reporting bureau.
Are you stuck with an eviction on your record? Bankrate.com explains that there are ways to get around it when you’re trying to lease another apartment:
- Be honest with your potential landlord. Sometimes a landlord is willing to overlook a past eviction. Whatever you do, don’t try to hide the eviction.
- Secure a co-signer. Make sure the co-signer is someone you trust and someone who has a good credit record. If you fail to pay rent at your new place, the co-signer on your lease is held financially responsible.
- Pay more money. To convince a landlord to rent to you, offer to pay a bigger deposit, or to pay the first and last month’s rent.
While getting evicted can make it more difficult to rent an apartment in the future, ApartmentSearch may be able to help you find your next apartment AND get paid for doing so. Start your hunt for a new apartment on the only apartment locator site that pays you for using it, regardless of your rental history!