How to Avoid a Pending Eviction
Many individuals dedicate a large portion of their paychecks to rent each month, and in our current economic climate, many are experiencing job loss or reduced incomes. It can be difficult to keep up with the rising prices of goods and rent, and you may find yourself close to or facing eviction.
Eviction is extremely scary and stressful, and it can be difficult to know exactly what you are supposed to do next. Even with the relief programs that are available in some areas, the idea of losing your home because your income has taken a hit is a legitimate concern. If you have received an eviction notice or would like to know what your options are if you do, here are some ways you can avoid a pending eviction.
Become Familiar with The Laws in Your State
Although tenants’ protection laws vary depending on the state, it is illegal in all states for a landlord to remove a tenant from their home without going through a formal eviction process. The formal eviction process begins with an eviction notice, and then you have to be given a chance to tell a judge your side of the story. This is an opportunity for you to explain to the judge why you believe you shouldn’t be evicted.
There are databases that show the laws for each jurisdiction, so if you are unsure of the protections that prevent evictions, the first thing you should do is find out what exists in your city or county.
Talk To your Landlord
If you are having financial troubles, having a discussion with your landlord about a new payment arrangement until you can become more financially stable could help you avoid being evicted altogether.
Consult with a Lawyer
Even if you are familiar with the laws and your rights as a tenant, the legal process for eviction can be complicated. It can be helpful to contact a lawyer who can help you analyze your specific situation. There are also other processes following an eviction notice that a lawyer can help you with, such as filing a motion to dismiss the eviction or fighting the eviction in court.
If there is an error or inconsistency in the eviction notice, you can file a motion to have the case completely dismissed. A lawyer can help you identify anything within the notice that would give you grounds to do this.
A lawyer can also help you organize valid reasons as to why you have not paid your rent. If your landlord does not perform the obligations they have agreed to, such as avoiding a maintenance issue you have repeatedly asked them to fix, you may have grounds for withholding your rent. A lawyer can help you sort through these technicalities and determine what kind of case you may have.
Be Prepared for an Eviction Hearing
If you cannot find a way to avoid an eviction hearing, you will want to be prepared for attending. Even if you do not have a lawyer, you should absolutely attend the hearing and bring all necessary documentation that you can. You will want to be able to explain to the judge why you have missed the payments and how you plan to make up what you owe in the future.
It is helpful to bring documents to prove your financial situation. This could include a note from your employer about your reduced salary or layoff, as well as banking statements. You should also bring a copy of your rental agreements and any proof that can dispute false claims of property damage.
File for Bankruptcy
If your inability to pay rent is the result of more serious financial issues, filing for bankruptcy may be a good option for you. While the bankruptcy case is going on, the court will issue an automatic stay so that your eviction proceedings are paused. However, filing for bankruptcy is a serious decision, and you should discuss the benefits and costs of taking this route of action.
If you are facing eviction, it is important to be proactive and reach out to either your landlord or an attorney quickly.
There are laws in every state that dictate how landlords must behave and what tenants can do to protect their rights. Becoming familiar with these laws will help you understand your options and may give you the leverage you need to work out a new arrangement with your landlord. However, if negotiations break down or prove unsuccessful, don’t hesitate to consult with a lawyer or local legal aid clinic for more assistance.
With the right information and support, you can avoid being evicted from your home, but again you’ll want to act fast.
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