Receiving an eviction notice can be a scary situation. But, no matter what the reason for the eviction is, you do have legal rights during the eviction process. It’s up to you to make sure that your landlord follows eviction proceedings correctly. There are more than a few situations when a landlord may try to take a shortcut.
Eviction Without Cause
There are specific situations in which a landlord can evict tenants. These can include situations where the tenant is at fault (non-payment of rent, misusing a rental unit and so forth), as well as a landlord wanting to live in the unit himself or remodel the property.
But there are many other reasons a landlord might seek to evict a tenant, and not all of them are legal. The allowed causes vary between counties, so you’ll need to check locally to be sure that your landlord has just cause for eviction. There are some cases when a landlord can’t legally evict a tenant (or can’t evict him fast enough) and will try to intimidate a tenant into leaving.
Removing Your Property
It used to be somewhat commonplace for a landlord to remove valuable property from a tenant’s unit with the intent to either sell that property in order to cover unpaid rent or effectively hold it for ransom until the rent is paid. Most counties and municipalities now have specific laws regarding when a landlord can hold property, and even what type of property a landlord can hold. In most cases, items like tools needed for your job are exempt from any type of seizure.
Just what a landlord can do with your property is generally outlined by the laws. In most states, a landlord cannot simply remove your property from a unit; instead, they are required to protect your property until you’ve a reasonable amount of time to retrieve it. If they do not do so, you may have grounds to request payment to cover damaged or lost personal property or even pursue legal action.
Following Court Procedures
In order to evict a tenant, a landlord must complete the appropriate legal proceedings. In New York, for instance, just to start eviction proceedings, a landlord must prepare a petition requesting a court hearing, serve it on the tenant and file it with the court.
From there, the landlord must essentially sue the tenant in court, providing proof of adequate cause to evict him. Even then, a landlord cannot evict a tenant by use of force or unlawful means―he must arrange for a sheriff or other officer of the law to complete eviction proceedings.
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