Facing an eviction can drain your finances and your emotional energy. The end result of an eviction is moving out of your apartment, and housing options may be limited in the area where you need to live for your job or other purposes. The more mistakes you make in the evictions process, the worse things become. That’s why it’s so important to know what to do to defend yourself and to protect your rental history. You should also know about the 4 things you shouldn’t do.
1 – Ignore It
It’s stressful when you’re a facing an eviction, especially if you’re living with children. The prospect of not having a suitable alternative place to live, or no options at all, is enough to keep anyone awake at night. Add to that a not-so-good relationship with your landlord, and you might want to pretend that you received no notice at all. This is a huge mistake, and it will come back to haunt you when your landlord files a case against you in court. Don’t ignore an eviction notice, but instead seek legal help immediately.
2 – Confront Your Landlord
It’s one thing to approach your landlord to reach a legal resolution. It’s another thing to confront your landlord out of anger, and to tell them all the ways that they are a terrible landlord. That won’t help you much when facing an eviction, and it will probably just make things worse. For example, your landlord may have wanted to evict you prior to a confrontation, but now they may want to sue for damages and back rent. If you plan to seek legal help, let your attorney communicate with your landlord; don’t do it yourself. If you plan to defend yourself in court, address the eviction notice in writing first, and then follow up with a calm discussion on your part. Try to negotiate a resolution, and follow that up with a written agreement about the resolution.
3 – Damage the Apartment
Don’t move out and retaliate by damaging the apartment. You’re not “safe” from a lawsuit just because you move out, even if you move to another state. The landlord can still sue you for damages, and a court judgment can lead to wage garnishments and possession of your assets. What you should do is take photographs and video footage of damages to the apartment that might be the underlying basis for the landlord initiating an eviction proceeding against you. Be prepared with an answer as to how or when those damages occurred, and how you’re not responsible for them. Any “walk through” inspection report that you and your landlord signed prior to moving in would be helpful.
4 – Stop Paying Rent without Advice or Research
There are instances in which it’s within your legal rights to stop paying rent when facing an eviction. However, you need to know what those instances are according to your state laws, so that you can show up to court with a legal defense. A landlord may refuse to accept rent, and you may have to pay it in escrow to show your good faith effort to pay rent. The only way to know your options is to do your research or consult with an eviction lawyer.
Try not to panic when facing eviction. Instead, get the help you need to defend yourself while at the same time looking for another place to live.