Tenant rights eviction laws are important to know if you want to be treated fairly as a renter. Therefore, understanding what constitutes wrongful evictions and being knowledgeable about the grounds for eviction can assist you in understanding your basic rights as a tenant.
To understand your rights in the eviction process, you first must know what constitutes an eviction. Eviction, also known as forcible detainer or summary possession, is the removal of a tenant from a rental property or apartment by a landlord. To begin the process, the landlord must first serve an eviction letter or Notice to Vacate on the tenant. Therefore, a landlord can’t evict you without first giving you a a written notice of eviction and a reason for the action.
The Time Factor – What It Means to You
Usually the eviction letter will give you a short span of time to correct the breach in your lease before you’re removed from the property. Generally, the time allowed is 5 to 10 days from the time the letter or notice is served. In some locales, the landlord may give you an Unconditional Quit Notice, which offers you no alternative but to leave your apartment without any kind of recourse.
The Reasons for Eviction
The primary reason for eviction is non-payment of rent. However, breaches in the lease agreement, such as keeping pets in your apartment when they’re not allowed and conducting illegal activities on the property are grounds for eviction as well. You can also be asked to leave if your lease has expired and the landlord will not extend or renew the lease. However, he should give you a 60 or 90-day notice first with respect to renewal or non-renewal of your lease.
What Happens if You Must Go to Court
If you fail to respond to the Notice to Vacate or the eviction letter sent by the landlord, then the landlord can follow up by serving you with a Complaint, which requires that you appear in court. If you don’t answer the Complaint, then the landlord will win by default and you will be evicted. If you wish to answer the Complaint, you must be prepared to provide the reasons why you’ve broken the obligations in your rental agreement. Typically, you may have a case if the landlord, for instance, has refused to make repairs that had an impact on your health and safety or caused your living conditions to be substandard or unlivable.
Asking for an Extension of Time
If the court orders you to be evicted, you do have the right to ask for an Extension of Time in cases of hardship. Such situations include instances where a tenant loses his job, has young children or sick or elderly parents in his care, or must re-enroll his children in another school. In some jurisdictions, landlords are required to pay the relocation expenses of seniors or disabled tenants they evict. If any of the aforementioned situations apply to you, then you may be able to obtain some type of relief.
Research your state’s eviction laws online. That’s a good place to start for understanding tenant rights and obtaining the type of treatment you deserve wherever you choose to rent.