Eviction: understanding your options

June 24, 2014

If you don't pay your rent on time, make excessive noise or otherwise violate the terms of your lease, your landlord may try to evict you. Don't panic — you have legal rights.

Eviction: understanding your options

You have rights

No matter what you did, you have legal rights that you should be aware of. If your landlord is trying to evict you, there are some things you can do to protect yourself.

Eviction is a process

The first thing to do is take a deep breath and realize that eviction is a process.

Your landlord cannot evict you instantly. If he or she locks you out of your apartment, removes your belongings without a court order or tells you that you have 24 hours to get out without going to court first, that landlord is violating the law and you should consider contacting an attorney.

Read your eviction notice

Your landlord must give you notice before going to court to try to evict you. If he or she does not, that is a violation of your rights and you may be able to get the eviction overturned.

Read all notices related to your eviction even if you feel hopeless about the situation.

Sometimes the notices provide information about what you can do to end eviction proceedings before they begin. In other cases, they contain important information such as court dates that may give you an opportunity to fight the eviction.

Gather documentation

If the case does go to court, you'll need evidence that you either didn't break the lease or that the landlord was at fault.

For example, if you are being evicted for nonpayment of rent but you paid the rent, you'll need proof of payment such as rental receipts or cancelled checks you wrote for your rent payments.

Similarly, if you withheld rent because the landlord refused to provide needed repairs, you'll need documentation of your conversations about the repairs.

Go to court

Don't ignore your court dates. If you don't attend, you have no opportunity to mount a defense and will be evicted by default.

Instead, make a point to attend every court date. You may be able to get an extension of time to correct the problem or get the eviction denied altogether.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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