5 Ways Tenants Can Fight an Eviction Notice

in Help Me Now!, Legal Issues on by
An eviction notice lays in an open doorway.

As the coronavirus pandemic rages on, frustration and poverty continue to increase exponentially. For the last few months, tenants in many parts of the country were protected from being evicted for non-payment of rent by emergency government measures. Unfortunately, that security is quickly disappearing — and in most cases, it’s already expired.

Being behind on rent with limited or non-existent resources is stressful to say the least. Receiving an eviction notice doubles that anxiety. But before you start loading up a shopping cart with your belongings and looking for a storage unit to sleep in, you should seriously explore your defense options:

Use Government Resources

All states have unique statutes and laws regarding eviction, so your best bet is to do some research and find out what they are where you live so you can fight back accordingly. The U.S. Housing and Urban Development website has a comprehensive list of each state’s laws regarding the rights and limitations of tenants and landlords. Likewise, if your home is part of a government-subsidized housing program, there may be additional resources to help you during eviction procedures, whether they’ve been implemented for non-payment or other reasons.

Go Through the Eviction Procedure Details

State, county, and city jurisdictions typically have laws that are very specific regarding eviction procedures. Your landlord must strictly follow these procedures for the eviction to be legal and enforceable. If you are being evicted for non-payment, in most cases, the landlord first must inform you in writing how much rent is due and what date it must be received by.

In most states, there are also very concise guidelines regarding the way you’re presented with the eviction documents, and exactly how long you have to reply to them. If your landlord fails to meet any of these requirements, their eviction may be dismissed, meaning they have to start over with the whole process. In many cases, they have to wait a month to restart the procedure, which can buy you some more time to come up with a payment plan.

Keep in mind, however, that if your lease has expired, or if you only have a verbal lease agreement, the landlord can simply give you a written eviction notice. Often a landlord is only required to give a renter a notice to vacate corresponding with the rent payment schedule. For instance, if your rent is paid every two months, the request has to give you two months to move. If you disregard the request, the landlord is permitted to proceed with eviction procedures.

Get Legal Help

If you can’t pay your rent, it’s doubtful that you have the money to hire a private attorney. Luckily, most cities or counties have legal aid and tenant rights associations that provide legal advice free of charge. Take advantage of any pro bono help you can get. Just be sure to collect any information you have regarding your rental property, including voicemails, texts, emails, letters, pictures, receipts, lease agreements, notices, and cancelled checks, before reaching out to the pros. 

Throw Yourself at the Mercy of The Landlord

A couple pleads with their landlord as they try to figure out a way to make future payments.

This option sounds corny and humiliating because it is — but when you’re trying to keep a roof over your head, desperate measures are sometimes required. If you have children, point out to the landlord what the hardship of eviction would do to their lives. Point out what a good tenant you’ve been and that you paid your rent on time for months or years (if this is actually the case, of course). Show the landlord paycheck stubs proving that you and/or your partner are sincerely trying to make ends meet. Suggest a payment schedule you can handle, no matter how small the payments, to at least open up negotiations. Ask if there are any chores on the rental properties you could do to lower your past due balance. 

Don’t Dawdle

Whatever your situation, don’t just ignore the eviction notice. Check and doublecheck the document date, including the one for the actual eviction, the court date, and, most importantly, the date by which you must notify the court that you want a hearing. Contact people who may be able to help, and be relentless about it. Whether it’s your sister who lives 2,000 miles away who might give you a loan, a legal aid contact who hasn’t returned your call, or that food delivery gig company that you haven’t heard from since you submitted your application, you can’t give up. As long as you put the work in and state your case honestly, you should be able to at least come to some kind of a tolerable agreement. 

11 Responses to “5 Ways Tenants Can Fight an Eviction Notice”

  1. November 19, 2011 at 5:42 pm, Anm said:

    Iebed was evicted.two years ago went to court. Apt managers would not accept. Money for rent but they did accept money from me to stay in apt for 2 weeks. a
    I had problems as plumber. Came out. Fixed problem. Aptest had. And forgot to put pipe on correctly. Flooded everywhere. They are during me for not cleaning. Apt plus court. Costs and lawyer. Is they anyway to go back and get evict off my credit. Also never received deposit. Back. Thank you for your time.


  2. November 19, 2011 at 5:44 pm, Anm said:

    Also management. Would. Never fix other maintenance. Problems. I always put it in writing


  3. April 28, 2013 at 10:24 am, Bob said:

    Most states favor the landlord. Therefore, in the eviction hearing the case is all but decided before the hearing begins. It is essentially a “rubber stamp” in favor of the landlord/property manager. Exceptions to this are New York and California.


  4. November 17, 2016 at 8:18 am, Sammy said:

    Go to the kand-ten court and get I forms ion from clercks from people get used to the system. If you sick get notes or letter from the drs. From your hobs even from friends saying you need help. Go to court do not miss for any reason the appointment


  5. August 24, 2020 at 4:27 pm, Elizabeth Podolak said:

    I live in west virginia I recieve hud housing im 2 weeks late on my rent and my landlord is saying I was breaking in entering my basement the door was already unlocked my fuse box is in the basement i needed to get to it.I have been paying her extra money in rent that hud was unaware of can I beat this.


  6. September 25, 2020 at 3:14 pm, Robert Fenk said:

    I meet all of the CDC requirements. Also I don't know how to initiate the process. My wife is dead, therefore I lost my rent income. I am also elderly and disabled. I need help or advice. I will be living in my car so my life will be endangered due to the virus and the violence of the streets.

    This old man will not survive this situation.


    • October 31, 2020 at 11:07 am, Stephani A Vangos said:

      > Not sure if you got the information already or not but if you go to the CDC website there is a form you need to print and sign its called a "Declaration" as long as you meet the criteria the eviction should not go any further then yes you will owe for any rent not paid but they can not make you leave until after December 31st.


  7. October 01, 2020 at 1:03 pm, Susan Perez said:

    I have a friend staying with me he is about to be on my lease will I get in trouble if he is here while waiting to be put on lease


  8. October 10, 2020 at 10:23 am, Lorie Goodwin said:

    I have a question. I'm disabled and I'm being belittlied by. Property managers. and harass about my passed due rent. What rights do I have to protect myself .and I was told because of the cov19 renters are saved from eviction.please someone talk to me 😢


  9. October 15, 2020 at 2:27 pm, cammi said:

    I have a question if my child get to get into a fight with another child at the apartments does that qualify for me to get evicted


  10. November 18, 2020 at 12:41 pm, Kimberly said:

    I am being wrongly evicted. My property manager is retaliating against me. Because I know the illegal things she is doing. I’m a disabled person with breathing problems. She is using my service dog to get the eviction. This is a subsidized apartment.


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