how eviction works

Keeping a roof over your head is a top priority for everyone. Nothing leaves a sinking feeling in your gut quite like an eviction notice. If you have received one at your door you probably saw it coming. Though evictions are not an everyday occurrence, as a tenant, it is crucial that you know the procedure. Don’t be taken advantage of. Understanding the eviction process for your state and knowing your tenant rights is vital.

The 5-day notice

The 5-day notice states that the lease has been violated. Often, this because rent is several days late. 5-day notices can be issued for other reasons too such as smoking in a non-smoking apartment or an unauthorized resident. They are commonly sent by certified letter and most judges accept  that the notice has been ‘received by the tenant’ if sent in this way. But, some landlords will tape the 5-day to the door and send it via regular mail. It just depends on the landlord’s preference. Bottom line, they make sure you receive the message.

How to read your 5-day notice

A 5-day notice is not an eviction. But, it is a warning that you are in breach of contract and you need to make some changes. The notice will give you five business days to pay the bill or stop violating the lease. Most leases state that if you have two or more 5-day notices issued during the term of your lease, the landlord reserves the right to kick you out.

Unconditional Quit Notice

If you receive an unconditional quit notice, then you have used up all your chances. You must You are on your way out the door whether you like it or not. If you choose not to move out by the date on the note, the landlord will begin the formal eviction process.

The eviction

You will be taken to court by your landlord and you will have to defend yourself. If you feel you are being unjustly evicted, you will have the opportunity to prove it. There are a few instances where tenants are wrongly accused.

  • Paperwork – Do all the dates match up? Did you turn in rent on the right day and can prove it? Were the notices delivered in accordance with state laws?
  • Property maintenance – Was the landlord maintaining the property? Was there mold growing in the apartment due to a leak maintenance wouldn’t fix? Do you have proof that you issued the proper maintenance requests in a timely manner? Was the landlord responsive to your requests?
    • Bear in mind with this one, in many states landlords can withhold some repairs if you aren’t paying your rent. But, the landlord is still responsible for the major repairs like HVAC and leaks etc.
  • Can you prove that you are being evicted so the landlord can avoid expensive repairs?

If the paperwork is accurate, and the landlord held up their end of the contract, the judge will approve the eviction.

Law enforcement

The landlord may not legally start throwing your things out the day they win the eviction. The landlord notifies the sheriff of the eviction and the sheriff lets you know the date and time they will arrive to escort you from the apartment. Typically, they also supervise as all your belongings are moved out of the home.

What does all this mean for you?

Losing an eviction is not good news for a resident for a couple reasons.

  1. The eviction goes on your credit. It will kill your credit and it will make it more difficult to find another apartment. Not many landlords are willing to rent to a person who was evicted.
  2. You are charged for all the fees. Lawyer fees, court fees, storage fees, damage fees and whatever else is included. This bill is sent to collections and they will hound you for the money.

Eviction is not how anyone wants to end the tenant-landlord relationship. An eviction notice is the last thing you ever want to see at your door. If you are having issues with the landlord address them early and document everything. You must prove the issues to a judge. Avoid being taken advantage of by understanding the process and knowing your rights.

Related:

5 Rules Not to Break in Your Apartment Complex

Apartment Maintenance: What’s Provided by Management

What Percentage of Annual Revenue Should go to Rent

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About The Author

Bekah Steenbock is a freelance writer with a background in real-estate and business growth. She is a native Austinite, but has called Seattle, Mankato, Milwaukee, Las Vegas and Atlanta home. Bekah, her husband, and their three children love exploring the outdoors in their spare time.

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