Unfortunately, there will always be pros and cons to buying, renting and managing a property. When renting, it’s important to be aware of the different notices that can be given and under what circumstances. Notices of rent increase, late rent, eviction and an unlawful detainer should all be taken seriously.
As a renter, you should also know what rights a property manager or landlord has to send these notices and property managers and landlords should know renter’s rights when the notices are given.
An unlawful detainer is a legal way for a landlord to evict a tenant who maintains possession of real property without legal rights to do so. This can be a tenant who:
One big difference between an unlawful detainer and eviction is the timing of their occurrence. An unlawful detainer lawsuit is the step taken before eviction. The property manager must send written notice of the lease termination and then make a complaint to the court. Once the court has agreed the complaint justifies eviction, the property manager can take the needed measures to remove the residents.
The unlawful detainer process can be, but isn’t always, relatively short in comparison to other court matters. Once the property manager has filed a complaint, the rest of the process can take anywhere from 3-5 weeks, but sometimes longer.
A written notice to terminate the tenancy must be given before any court proceedings. The notice includes a set date you are to vacate the property by. Typically before receiving a notice to terminate, you’ll receive a “notice to quit,” which will specify what wrongs you need to fix per the rental agreement.
Each state has different rules for how many written notices must be given as well as how the notice must be delivered, so check local laws if you’re unsure what the rules are in your location.
There are some exceptions to giving written notice. If the lease agreement was for a fixed term and was not renewed, a notice isn’t always necessary. However, some cities, states or counties may require notice of the intention to not renew.
Some states, like California, also don’t require written notice of tenancy termination before filing a court complaint when the renter works for the property manager and lives on his or her property. A court complaint can be filed as soon as the renter no longer works for the property manager.
If you fail to comply with the notice, the property manager can then file a complaint with the court. Within this complaint, he or she must be able to prove that you have done something wrong justifying termination of occupancy. Response to the complaint will then be requested by the court.
By not responding to the complaint filed against you (either through fighting the detainer or avoiding it entirely), defaulting begins. As the name implies, the complaint defaults to the property manager winning the case and permission for eviction is granted.
By answering the complaint, you either willingly leave the place of residence or fight the detainer and a court hearing is held. The court hearing allows a judge to hear both party’s arguments and then determines if you should be allowed to maintain occupancy or relocate.
The written notice originally sent to you before filing a lawsuit can be sent in person by the property manager or one of his or her representatives, in the mail or by email. However, this must be done in accordance with state or local laws. Some municipalities require one way rather than another.
The unlawful detainer itself is typically served in person by the property manager. In Minnesota, for example, once the property manager has filed a complaint in court, he or she serves you with a summons, ordering an appearance in court on the designated day and time.
There are a few different things you can do to increase your chances of never receiving an unlawful detainer or being evicted. Paying your rent on time and obeying the rules in the rental agreement are two to name.
The best thing you can do as a renter is to give your property manager or landlord no reason to want you to leave. Not only will unlawful detainers lead you to a potential lack of housing, but if you lose the case, an eviction can make it harder for you to rent in the future.
An unlawful detainer won’t be reported to credit bureaus unless you are evicted. Evictions typically stay on your record for up to seven years. While it doesn’t affect your credit directly, it can still affect your ability to find housing because it can appear on other consumer reports.
While you may think unlawful detainers aren’t something to worry about, it’s important to know the processes and consequences in case it does happen to you or someone you know.
If you’re renting a place you can barely afford or you’ve breached the rental agreement in any way, finding a new place to live may be something to consider. However, it’s important to remember that your property manager typically doesn’t have the right to evict anyone without you doing something explicitly against the rental agreement. Check your local laws for more information and to see exceptions for certain rules in your area.