Eviction: What are my rights?
There’s nothing like an eviction notice to keep you up at night. When do you have to be out? Why am I being kicked out? What’s going to happen? You probably knew the eviction was coming your way, but you still have rights in the process.
There must be just cause
Your landlord can’t evict on a whim one day. There must be a legitimate proven lease violation. Non-payment of rent is a pretty easy one to prove. You paid, or you didn’t – it’s cut and dry.
But, what about non-monetary lease violations? This could be smoking in a non-smoking apartment, keeping a pet without your landlord’s permission, or letting your friend live with you without clearing it with your property manager. Basically, any lease violation that does not have to do with rent or any other payment. This must be proven with pictures or security video.
The owner cannot evict you to get out of repairing your home
Sometimes landlords will try to evict residents to skirt making costly repairs to the property. This is illegal. There are eviction laws in place to protect you from this. The landlord is required to maintain a habitable home for you. Your apartment must have things like running water, heat, and structural stability. The landlord cannot try to evict you for putting through a maintenance request to fix these things as needed. In some instances, you can withhold rent until the landlord holds up his or her end of the contract.
The process must be in writing
The entire eviction process must be in writing. A landlord cannot verbally try to evict you. It must follow the state and federal laws regarding eviction notices or a judge will throw the case out. You want that paper trail and you have a right to it.
- Dates – The date received, and the expiration date of all notices must be accurate. For example, if you received a 5-day notice of a lease violation you have 5 business days from the date you received the notice to fix the situation.
- Delivery – All notices must be delivered in accordance with state and federal laws. These laws are in place to protect you to ensure you receive the notice. Often, the landlord will send the 5-day via certified letter. Since you must sign for this, it proves that you received it. The post office will attempt to deliver the notice to you personally three times. Then it is left in the mailbox and it is considered ‘received’ at that point.
The right to cure or fix the lease violation
Typically, you will have the opportunity to fix the problem. Pay the rent or deal with whatever issue was stated in the notice. Learn from the mistake and don’t do it again.
However, there are a few instances where a landlord can evict you without giving you the opportunity to remedy the lease violation. These no-cure notices are not issued often (thank goodness) but they can happen and are in place for the safety of the community.
- Drugs – If you are caught selling or distributing drugs in your apartment the police can notify your landlord. Your landlord can issue you a 5-day no right to cure notice and you will have 5 days to leave or the landlord will begin the eviction process.
- Domestic violence – If the landlord has proof of domestic violence by a tenant the landlord can kick that tenant out without giving him or her the opportunity to remedy the situation. ***Under that Safe Housing Act victims of the domestic violence are protected from eviction.
- Criminal Activity – Any tenant that engages in criminal activity that jeopardizes the health and well being of the residents in the community can be evicted without being given the chance to cure the problem.
There are few things worse than an eviction. But, you still have rights during this ordeal. Knowing what they are will allow you to defend yourself in court and prevent you from being taken advantage of.