You mean that lovely orange sticker on your door isn’t a friendly note from your landlord? Read closer… it’s an eviction notice. You may think that things like this only happen to rowdy college students, but think again, because it can happen to you. The best protection from this harsh punishment is reading your lease completely – especially that fine print. Leases are riddled with all kinds of rules and regulations as well as consequences, so knowing where you stand from the beginning will prevent you from being kicked out into the cold. It’s also helpful to understand the eviction process so if you are served with an eviction notice, you’ll know how to proceed, and what your rights are. Here are a few things to keep in mind about the eviction process.
Do you get bitter stares in the parking lot of your apartment complex? You only had a few people over… how loud could it have possibly been? And your rent was only a week late – for the past 3 months. But other than that, you’re a model tenant. Either of these problems can result in violations. You’ll likely receive written violations from your landlord, asking you to mend your irresponsible ways. Sure, you’ll probably get a few warnings, but violations inevitably lead to one thing: eviction.
Although eviction notices vary by state, they typically fall into three categories: pay rent or quit notices, cure or quit notices, and unconditional quit notices. The first category is for those with past due rent. The notice will allow a tenant to pay the amount within a certain time period or vacate the apartment. The second deals with lease violations, such as breaking pet regulations, and asks the tenant to fix the problem or get out. The third simply tells the tenant that there are no second chances, and it’s time to start looking for another crash pad. This usually happens when there have been many previous violations. You can also be evicted for abandonment of your apartment, which is defined by abandoning the rental unit (even if you’re paying rent!) for more than half of the rental period without notifying the landlord. So, if you’re headed on a European road trip for 2 weeks this summer, both as a courtesy and a matter of legal necessity, you should notify your landlord by mail that you will be gone.
The Next Step
So you’re going to be a rebel, huh? If you don’t pay your past due rent or correct your lease violation within the allotted time period, your landlord will serve you with a summons and complaint for eviction. If you’re still standing strong, chances are you’ll be taking a trip to the courthouse. Your landlord can’t just evict you, or “terminate your tenancy.” If they try to kick you to the curb without getting a court order, contact an attorney and fight for your humble abode! First, they must get a court judgment in order to proceed with terminating your tenancy. The landlord should file a complaint with the county court, describing their problems with the tenant. You would then receive a notice asking you to appear for a hearing. Once you have received notice of your hearing, gathering together evidence of your landlord’s poor management of the property, or insufficient notices of your violations can be a good defense. Unfortunately, violations of the Landlord-Tenant Act work both ways. Chances are, if you’re being hauled into court, your landlord has some severe problems with your behavior as well, so make sure the violations you bring to light are strong arguments against your landlord. And even if your grievances don’t sway the judge, don’t panic, your landlord can’t just kick you out as soon as the judge bangs the gavel – and you can always appeal the decision. The court will give your landlord permission to end the tenancy, and after this, it really is time to start looking for another place. A local law enforcement officer is usually given authority over the case, and in a few days, he or she will come to your *hopefully* vacant apartment to escort you off the premises. Let’s just hope they don’t have to use handcuffs.