How to Handle an Eviction Notice as a Renter

by Sundaybell on March 24, 2012

It won’t be the nicest ‘welcome home’ message you’ve ever received, but if you arrive home and find an eviction notice attached to your door there is no need to panic.

An eviction notice does not mean you will be out on the street the following morning surrounded by your personal belongings. What it does mean is that you need to take it seriously and correct any problems that have arisen to land that notice on your door in the first place. If your landlord has posted the notice, it is not an actual eviction notice but rather a Notice of Intent. An actual eviction is a court-mandated procedure.

You have several options to consider when you find this notice at your door and you should be aware of your legal rights if this should happen. A notice should give you the reason you are being asked to vacate and a date you will be expected to leave. If the notice is a result of non-payment of rent, it should also provide a time period in which you can pay up or vacate.

You should be aware that you can fight an eviction if you feel you are being unfairly treated and should know your tenant rights.

Summons and complaint: If the situation continues to the point where you receive a Summons and Complaint, you should take it very seriously. If you do not respond to the Summons you essentially forfeit your rights and may find law enforcement officers at your door acting on a court-ordered removal.

Defense: If you feel you are being wrongly evicted, take a professional approach to organizing your defense. Collect copies of all checks used for rent payments. Make sure to read your rental agreement – something you should have done prior to moving in – so you are aware of details regarding how your landlord is to notify you of the intent to evict. If procedures have not been followed, it is to your benefit.

Late payments: If your landlord has accepted payments from you after you received your notice you cannot be evicted.

Withheld payments: Collect copies of any letters or notices you may have issued to your landlord with regards to complaints about building services or repairs and for which you withheld payments for that reason.

The best way to avoid a situation that comes down to an eviction notice is to be a good tenant.

Remember that landlords have bills to pay as well and most likely want to have a good relationship with their tenants. It’s a two-way street when it comes to renting, so paying your rent on time and being a good tenant is the best way to avoid finding an unwelcome notice on your door.

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