Have you recently been served with an eviction notice? If so, you’re not alone. In the United States, over 2.3 million tenants face eviction each year!
Although the prospect of losing your home is frightening, it’s critical to stay calm and learn about your options. Whether renting an apartment from a management company, or a house from a private owner, tenants have rights and responsibilities during an eviction procedure.
The question many renters don’t ask is whether they should seek assistance from a lawyer for eviction proceedings.
Read today’s post for help determining whether it’s better to navigate tenant/landlord laws on your own or get legal advice.
Can a Landlord Evict You Immediately?
An eviction notice posted on your door doesn’t mean you’re required to pack your boxes and vacate the premises—at least not immediately.
A landlord isn’t allowed to change the locks or remove your belongings until they go through the legal eviction process. Even if they win in court, you will usually have at least a few days to move.
Even the savviest tenants don’t know the ins and outs of the eviction process.
Sometimes landlords don’t serve eviction notices according to law. They may also use incorrect forms. The court looks at both situations as flaws and may dismiss the case.
Unfortunately, a case dismissed for technical flaws usually comes back up for a hearing when the landlord corrects the deficiencies and refiles the eviction. There are times when a tenant is a victim of illegal eviction. In those cases, tenants may receive compensation.
Remember, if you get a notice and your landlord indicates that you must vacate immediately, you can remind them of the legal process.
Why Do Landlords Evict?
Landlords can evict tenants for a variety of reasons. Most evictions occur because tenants get behind on rent and can’t catch up. Did you know when you fail to pay rent on time, you’re breaking the terms of your lease agreement?
Other reasons for eviction include the following:
- Violations of the Pet Policy
- Subletting to Tenants Not on the Lease
- Property Damage
- Disrupting Other Tenants
- Using the Property for Illegal Purposes
Sometimes a landlord might start the eviction process if a tenant won’t move out after the expiration of their lease. It’s called a holdover.
By the way, if you’re in this situation, an attorney is your best weapon. Holdovers present several challenges to landlords and tenants. You’ll want someone who knows the law and can fight for your right to stay in your home.
Finally, if you’re renting a home and the property owner wants to either take it off the rental market or move into it, they have the right to evict you. State laws vary in this situation, and a lawyer can make sure the landlord doesn’t infringe on your tenant rights.
Lease agreements protect tenants and landlords. However, there’s always a chance for misinterpretation. Hiring an eviction lawyer saves you the trouble of wading through the legal jargon and complexity of landlord/tenant law.
Reasons to Fight an Eviction
Every situation is unique, and that’s why it wiser to consult a lawyer who specializes in eviction than to represent yourself. There are specific scenarios where you can fight—and win!
For example, if your landlord accepts rent from you after they serve a Pay or Quit notice, they cannot file for an eviction. If they do, you should consider fighting the case.
Sometimes a landlord will refuse to accept rent even when a tenant offers it within the timeframe provided by the Pay or Quit notice. You may be able to fight the eviction.
Did you withhold rent because your residence was uninhabitable? Maybe you were forced to make repairs that were the responsibility of the landlord. Both situations may allow tenants to withhold rent lawfully if the landlord doesn’t take care of the issue promptly.
If you feel a landlord discriminated against you, fighting the eviction makes sense. Also, if the landlord retaliates against you when you’ve exercised your legal right as a tenant, you should pursue legal protection.
Hiring a lawyer gives you a better chance of winning your eviction case.
The Case for Hiring a Lawyer for Eviction Proceedings
When you come home to an eviction notice tacked to your front door, it can knock the wind out of your sails. Who wouldn’t worry about losing their home, not to mention the damage an eviction could cause to your credit rating?
While it’s tempting to take things into your own hands, you’re putting a lot at risk. Without legal help, you stand a higher chance of losing your case. Evictions usually create a negative impact on your quality of life and your financial stability.
Without a lawyer who understands the nuances of landlord/tenant law, you likely won’t make the most persuasive case. Why take the risk?
A lawyer could help you keep your apartment or home if that’s what you’d like to do. At a minimum, a lawyer may be able to buy you enough time to better prepare for a move. Lawyers are also responsible for keeping track of court dates and required documents.
It makes sense to let someone who knows the law bear the legal portion of the burden you’re facing.
Interested in More Legal Articles?
Whether you’re facing eviction due to non-payment of rent or for violating your landlord’s pet policy, we hope we’ve helped you understand the wisdom of hiring a lawyer for eviction proceedings.
Regardless of the reason for the eviction notice, remember, all tenants have rights. When you meet with your lawyer, ask for an explanation of your rights as they pertain to the relationship between you and your landlord.
If you’ve enjoyed this article and would like to review more articles on legal matters, check out the archives on our blog.