You pay rent on time, keep your apartment reasonably clean, and you think you’re a darn good tenant. You’ve never even considered the possibility of being evicted. Even if you’re sure it’ll never happen to you, it’s important to know the details of the eviction process and the many reasons why you might be evicted. Those who pay rent on time may still be susceptible to eviction due to other factors. Read on to learn more about the various categories of eviction and your rights in each situation.
There are three main types of eviction notices, as well as a separate category of non-eviction notices to vacate. Each type of eviction notice—pay or quit, cure or quit, and unconditional quit—is described below, and the non-eviction notices are covered below.
Pay or Quit Notices (Failure to Pay)
This type of eviction notice may be served if you haven’t paid your rent by the end of the grace period or late period allowed in your lease agreement. The notice will detail the amount of time you have to respond or pay rent (usually five days). Your landlord is required to accept a full rental payment if you offer it, but it is not necessary for your landlord to accept a partial payment from you. However, if he or she does accept a partial payment, this will end the current eviction procedure and another must be started if you fail to pay rent in full. As a tenant, you should know your rent amount and be prepared to pay it on time or deal with the consequences.
Note that completely withholding rent is not usually an acceptable way to deal with your landlord’s failure to fix a problem with your rental unit. Instead of simply neglecting to pay rent, you should disclose the issue to your landlord in writing and take legal action if necessary. You may be able to have a court hold your rent in escrow until your landlord addresses your complaint.
If you don’t pay your rent in full after the amount of time specified in the pay or quit notice, your landlord will probably serve you with an <LINK> unlawful detainer notice. The unlawful detainer is a serious motion which will very likely result in you moving out. To avoid an unlawful detainer or pay or quit notice, pay your rent on time and stay in active communication with your landlord.
Cure or Quit (Violation of Lease Terms)
You can receive this type of eviction notice even if you pay rent. Cure or quit notices inform you of a problem with your tenancy, which may be a violation of lease terms or a result of complaints from other tenants. You might be too noisy or too messy, or perhaps you’re housing a pet that’s not allowed under your lease contract. Regardless of the nature of the problem, your landlord will serve you with a notice—usually a 3-day nuisance notice—and you will have the amount of time specified in that notice to fix the problem.
Review your lease agreement to determine whether your actions are in violation of its terms. If you disagree with your landlord’s assessment of the situation, be prepared to back up your position with text from your lease. It may also be possible for you to work out an agreement with your landlord and neighbors that allows you to slightly modify the terms of your lease—for example, you might be able to add a pet clause to your lease or sign a new pet-accommodating lease if a new pup or kitten is the source of the problem. Still, whether you need to find Fluffy a new home, stop practicing the drums at 3 a.m., or clear the empty beer bottles off your balcony, immediately fixing the problem described in the cure or quit notice is probably the best action to take if you want to stay in your apartment.
An unconditional quit notice is a harsh measure that provides the tenant with no opportunity to pay rent or make up for actions that have violated the lease agreement. This type of notice might be served if the tenant has failed to pay rent on time for a prolonged period, repeatedly violated terms of the lease agreement, caused extensive damage to the rental property, or engaged in illegal activity (such as selling drugs) on the property. If you’re this type of tenant, you probably already knew this unconditional quit notice was coming to you, and there’s not much you can do about it.
Non-Eviction Move Out Notices:
These notices may be served without cause if your landlord wishes to terminate your rental agreement. Depending on your rental period and the terms of your lease, you may receive either a 7 day no-cause notice (usually for weekly rentals) or a 30 or 60 day no-cause notice (usually for monthly rentals). Just as you can usually give your landlord a specific amount of advance notice if you wish to end a week-to-week or month-to-month lease, your landlord can give you notice to move out if he or she wishes to renovate your living space, get a new tenant, or just stop renting altogether for whatever reason. Since your lease was on a term-to-term basis and your landlord is giving you the required notice, you probably don’t have much recourse in this situation.
The Tenacious Tenant: Fighting back
The grounds for filing a counter-claim against an eviction notice often center on the complaint that the apartment is uninhabitable or that the landlord is otherwise violating your rights as a tenant. Your assertion that this is the case may beg the question as to why you’re still living somewhere so uninhabitable. Still, your landlord is responsible for providing you with a certain degree of comfort in your rental unit, and his or her failure to do so may be legally significant—especially if a health or safety violation if involved.
You may be able to request some form of rent abatement from your landlord or the court in an attempt to mitigate your failure to pay rent in full. Be prepared, however, to provide extensive proof not only of the serious negative conditions but also of your previous efforts to have your landlord correct them. A judge will probably not be impressed with the argument that insufficient parking spaces—which you’d never before complained about—was a justification for your failure to pay rent for three months.
You may also be able to dispute the eviction notice on the grounds that it was improperly served (not directly served to you as the tenant), not worded clearly, or did not provide sufficient time for you to respond. If you are in low-income housing or receive housing assistance, you may have further recourse against an eviction notice. The eviction process is very detailed and landlords must adhere to strict standards when serving an eviction notice. For assistance with disputing eviction procedures or an eviction in general, you should probably consult your lawyer or local legal resources. If you’re planning to defend yourself in an eviction proceeding, this website offers many useful and detailed suggestions about the questions you need to ask and the actions you need to take.
Evading Eviction: The final word
Eviction is a serious proceeding, but it’s one that you can probably avoid or appease by paying rent and being a good tenant. If you’re familiar with the terms of your lease and stick to them, you should be able to avoid getting served with any type of eviction notice. If you research the situation and know your rights, you should be able to avoid getting evicted for issues you can correct.