Renting an apartment or a house can come with a big set of advantages and it can be one of the best decisions you can make when you’re just starting out. But we don’t have to tell you that it also comes with its own set of challenges if your luck runs out.
One of the scariest and most anxiety-inducing events that can happen to you as a renter is when you’re served an eviction notice. You might not be prepared for one because most times we don’t expect it at all.
It is always best to go into the renting process by knowing the ins and outs of every clause, and this also includes eviction notices. Below we give you a comprehensive guide of what you can do if you’re served with an eviction notice by your landlord.
The Basics: What Does An Eviction Notice Entail?
Eviction notices are also called a “ Notice of Termination” or “Notice to Quit” and are served as a last resort. So, if and when you are served one, it won’t really come as a surprise to you because you will be given multiple warnings before it arrives at your door.
Usually, eviction notices are served for the following reasons related to a violation of the terms on the lease.
- You failed to pay the rent that you signed up for.
- Property has been damaged due to pets.
- You’re causing constant noise and nuisance.
- You’re posing health and safety hazards.
Eviction notices are of two types, and the difference between both of them is the time period that you have to respond. Let’s first take a look at them below:
1. A Summary Eviction Notice
If the reason for eviction is any of the reasons above, a summary eviction notice is what you will get from your landlord. When you’re served a summary eviction notice, you have only 10 judicial days to respond. Here, judicial means 10 days not counting the weekends, holidays, or the day the notice was served.
If granted, your landlord can then call the law enforcement agency that’s locally based to start the eviction process. Also, you should note that your landlord is responsible for paying the law enforcement agency to carry out the eviction and not you.
2. A Formal Eviction Notice
You will receive a formal eviction notice when your landlord is either selling the apartment/house or your lease has expired. In the case of a formal eviction notice, you will be given a 30-day period to evict as opposed to the 10-day time period in a summary eviction notice.
Note: You might also receive an eviction notice that’s 14 or 20 days long and it depends entirely on the state you’re in and the terms of the lease.
What happens after an eviction notice is served?
Once you’re served an eviction notice and the specified period of time has passed for you to respond, usually a lawsuit will be filed against you by the landlord. It means that you can continue to stay in your rental property till the court orders you to leave, but many tenants choose to leave on their own before an eviction lawsuit can be filed.
Tip: If you received the eviction notice due to a non-payment of dues and you decide to pay them, do so using a check and not cash. Even if you’re paying with cash, be sure to get a receipt of the payment. This is because you are vulnerable to being accused of never making the payment.
Instances When An Eviction Notice Is Invalid
There will be scenarios when the eviction notice you’re given is not valid and these are usually related to laws formed by the states on how a tenant can and cannot be evicted. Remember that if there is no just cause for eviction, the eviction notice can be deemed invalid, and this has been termed as “Just Cause Eviction Protection” by the law.
The laws set by independent states have to be followed by landlords, and you have the legal right to deem the eviction notice invalid when they don’t follow said laws. In such scenarios, you can either talk to your landlord directly or visit an attorney who specializes in such cases.
What You Can Do If Served With An Eviction Notice
We know that times can get tough and there can be times in your life when you might get served with an eviction notice. When you do, there are a few steps we suggest you take before the panic sets in.
1. Go Through Your Lease
One of the first things we suggest you do is go through the lease you signed when you first moved into your home. Your lease acts as a Holy Grail here because it will have all the details of your agreement. This includes the terms and conditions under which you can be evicted, the amount of time you will be given to vacate the property, and so on.
As we mentioned before, when the clauses on the lease aren’t followed by your landlord, the eviction notice can turn out to be invalid. In such a scenario, we suggest you visit a landlord-tenant attorney and collect all evidence possible of the terms on the lease being violated by the landlord.
Also Read: Potential Consequences Of Breaking A Lease
2. Have A Chat With Your Landlord
If the eviction notice is valid and all the terms on the lease are being met, then the best thing to do would be to talk to your landlord. Remember that ignoring the eviction notice can be the worst thing you do since it can result in a lawsuit that will empty your pockets. So be quick and contact your landlord as soon as you receive one.
Landlords don’t want to take the hassle of an eviction lawsuit either, so making a settlement is the best way out of getting taken to court. Settlements are very common and can be done right before an eviction trial takes place too. However, you cannot reach a settlement after a trial starts, so don’t delay the process.
To give you an example of a settlement, if you were given the eviction notice for a non-payment of dues, discuss various payment options and see if you can carry them out. Whatever the reason, it’s best to talk to your landlord in a polite manner and try negotiating with them to let you stay on in the place.
Tip: If the negotiations work, make sure to take it down in writing and have the landlord attest it so that you don’t run into problems later on.
3. Approach The Court
We know that this is not something anyone wants to do since it requires both time and money. But if you believe you’re being wrongfully evicted and your landlord isn’t ready to have a conversation, taking a legal route can be the only choice you have left.
If the cost and time are not something you’re ready to sacrifice, then it’s best to move out within the time period that’s given to you. However, if you don’t want to let go without a fight, you can try contacting local organizations and attorneys that take up such cases on a pro bono basis. Some states also have facilities for tenants to get guidance on such matters for no charge, so it’s something you should definitely consider.
4. Start Planning A Move Out
Once you’re served an eviction notice by your landlord, we always suggest you start planning how and where you will move next to. It is possible that you might get to stay on the property if the court rules in your favor, but even then there have been instances of landlords not complying with court orders and forcing tenants to move out. On the other hand, the negotiations with your landlord might be futile or the court might rule in your landlord’s favor.
Whatever the case, you don’t want to be scrambling at the last minute to find housing and get your things in order. Start finding housing solutions and storage units for your items, and while this process might be hard, it’s best to carry it out as soon as possible.
Can You Stop An Eviction Once It’s Filed?
While there is no direct way to stop an eviction once it’s filed, there’s a method you can use to get the work done. You can always file a complaint with your local housing agency which will then help you place a stay on the eviction notice. You can also contact an attorney who specializes in such cases and get their help.
How Many Months Rent Arrears Before Eviction?
This largely depends on the kind of agreement you have with your landlord, but generally, the time period of non-payment of dues is 8 weeks or 2 months. 8 weeks if you pay weekly, and 2 months if you pay monthly.
Will Universal Credit Pay My Rent Arrears?
If you are behind on your rent for more than 8 weeks or 2 months, then your landlord can ask for a part of your Universal Credit to be sent directly to him. However, you also have to continue paying a portion of the rent.
If you want to reduce the amount that Universal Credit is paying to your landlord, you can contact a local Citizens Advice for guidance about the same. It’s best not to reduce the amount that’s being paid to the landlord since it can mean getting evicted.
Renting a property is what most people go with since it’s cheaper and does not require much commitment to a single locality or city. But it’s important that you understand the terms of your lease and do your best not to violate them. Eviction lawsuits can get tricky and have the potential to rob you of your peace and quiet, so it’s best to avoid them. We suggest you also understand your rights as a tenant and read through your lease thoroughly before you sign one.
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