Whether you are expecting it because you have been unable to pay rent, or it arrives out of the blue, getting an eviction notice is upsetting. You may not know that there are laws and regulations in place in each state in an effort to protect the interests of both landlords and tenants when it comes to the eviction process. Knowing what your rights are and the steps you can take to fix things will help take some of the stress out of the situation.
Know Your State
Each state is going to be a little different when it comes to tenant/landlord practices, so it is important to brush up on the regulations for where you live. If you can’t find the information you need online, it may be worth your time and money to consult a property attorney or experienced realtor.
Read Your Lease Agreement
Many lease agreements state exactly what the course of action is in the case of non-payment, or the terms in which landlords can give a tenant a notice to quit the property. You will have a much easier job fighting the eviction if you are familiar with the contract you signed.
Alternately, there may be aid programs within your state that can help you catch up on or pay rent, as long as you meet certain parameters. Check with your local Department of Human Services to see if such an option exists in your area.
Make A Plan
If you are being evicted because you didn’t pay your rent, it may be worth it to your landlord or his attorney to settle. In most states, the eviction process is long and drawn out and multiple steps must be taken before you are actually required to leave. Your landlord might be willing to let you set up a payment plan or at least negotiate a rate for a month or two before you leave voluntarily.
If you feel you are being illegally evicted, you need to decide if you have a good case, since it is most likely to end up in court. It may be necessary to hire legal representation, but make sure you have done as much of the fact gathering and legwork as possible to keep expenses down. In the meantime, continue to pay your rent, so it doesn’t come up as a ding against your side of the proceedings.
What If It Ends Up In Court?
There are a few good initial pieces of advice to remember if your eviction case does get as far as the court process; show up and do not be late! While the idea of standing up in a court room is intimidating to most people, once a court date is set, it is non-negotiable without a legitimate emergency. Come prepared with everything you might need to present your case and be clean and presentable. Remember that you are trying to show the judge that you are a reasonable tenant and you don’t want anything to distract the court from the facts.
Deciding what to do if you receive an eviction notice very much depends on what your location is worth to you. If you have been having problems with your landlord, or you are ultimately going to spend more in legal fees than you would if you just found a new place, that is worth taking into account, even if overlooking the emotional component of the situation is difficult. Remember that if you do go to court and lose, you may be required to pay your landlord’s legal fees as well. Whatever you decide to do, remember that knowledge is power in such situations and getting the right kind of help and support is crucial for an outcome you can live with.