If you are behind on your rent payments, your landlord may have the right to evict you. But you should also know that there are certain legal protections in place in the United States to protect tenants. Laws can vary a bit by state, but all of them will at least give the tenant the ability to fix the delinquency in payment before getting evicted. If you have been served with an eviction notice, here are three tips for making sure your landlord is playing by the rules.
An Opportunity to Pay
When a landlord goes to evict you, they must provide written notice. This notice must be clearly posted somewhere it can be seen by your apartment or sent through the mail. (requirements vary by state). In all states, the tenant will have a specific length of time to pay the outstanding balance. If this balance is paid by the date in question, the tenant cannot be evicted. If your landlord is trying to evict you but has not posted proper notice through a court order, you should hire a real estate attorney to help you fight back.
Is There a Reason You Have Not Paid?
In certain cases, a tenant has the right to withhold payment to the landlord if the landlord has not done a good job of maintaining the property. For example, most states require that the landlord provide a working source of heat and water and keep the property free of health hazards. If the landlord fails to meet these requirements, you could have the right to intentionally stop paying your rent until the problems are fixed. A landlord cannot evict you if the reason you are not paying is because of their own negligence. Understand of course that you may need to go to court to prove that the landlord isn’t holding up their end of the deal, in which case a real estate attorney will once again come in handy.
You Must Have Access to the Property Until the Court-Mandated Date
If the deadline passes on the final notice the landlord has given you to pay your rent and you do not pay, they can then go to court and get an order to evict. Understand though that this may not happen immediately. Sometimes the court may give the tenant additional time before they have to leave, sometimes another month or more. This is especially the case if there are health concerns. Until your landlord actually gets the court order to evict you, you have the right to access the apartment. If the landlord tries to force you out early by changing the locks or removing some of your belongings from the building, he or she has overstepped and you should contact an attorney.
Getting an eviction notice can be traumatizing, but understand that you do have rights in this situation. You must be given time to make the payments you have missed and you do not have to pay if you can prove that the landlord did not take proper care of the building. If you think your landlord is in the wrong, contact an attorney, like Saba Richard D. Attorney, for assistance.