Constructive Eviction Explained

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It may sound like a fairly simple term for a kind of eviction process, but those who look deeper into what constructive eviction is can see that it is really based on a complex interaction between a tenant and a landlord.

What Is an Eviction?

In general, an eviction is a process that a landlord must go through in order to get a tenant out of a dwelling. Because of the terms of the lease, a tenant is often legally entitled to stay in a housing unit or property, and even in terms of nonpayment of rent (a kind of breach of contract relative to the lease), it can be exceedingly difficult to actually evict a tenant. The landlord may have to file an eviction notice and comply with federal, state and local regulations that may give the tenant time to respond to legal communications.

What Is Constructive Eviction?

In a constructive eviction situation, the landlord usually does not seek to force out a tenant through an eviction process. Instead, the landlord either fails to upkeep a property to keep it livable, or takes specific action to make that property less livable for the tenant.

When the landlord does something like tearing up part of the property, or fails to provide living amenities such as hot and cold running water, the tenant can seek to claim “constructive eviction” where the inhabitants who are renting would be entitled to move out and not pay the remainder of the rent specified in the lease. Tenants generally have to show evidence of specific conditions in a housing unit or property to reasonably constitute constructive eviction. If this idea is upheld by a legal proceeding, the landlord may not be able to get the rent that he or she would otherwise be entitled to collect.

Taking Action on a Constructive Eviction

The first thing for renters to understand is that a constructive eviction generally falls into the category of “unlawful convictions” where showing a lack of livable conditions at a property can help those who are renting to avoid liability if they move out. It’s also important to know that a claim of constructive eviction can be difficult to establish, depending on the judicial venue and lots of other factors.

Renters who think they may be subject to a provision for constructive eviction can check with local legal firms or other parties about what constitutes lack of livable conditions in their state. They can document any conditions that they think make their home unlivable. They can also seek legal representation, where a constructive eviction argument can get straightened out through the courts. In general, someone is going to be liable for legal costs at the end, so it’s best to be pretty confident about the basis for claiming constructive eviction before moving forward.

The above shows how this somewhat unusual eviction process works. Good communications between a landlord and tenant can often make this kind of situation unnecessary, but when a constructive eviction may have occurred, it’s best to know what’s involved.

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