With the economic downturn, searches for legal help regarding eviction law have skyrocketed across the Web.
The most common reason for eviction is, of course, nonpayment of rent, usually by cash-strapped families who can no longer afford to pay.
On the flip side, landlords often are advised to tread lightly when it comes to evicting a tenant. This is not only due to the emotional conflicts involved on both sides, but the legal hassles involved.
Unfortunately, some landlords will simply bypass the courts to take matters - illegally - into their own hands.
The illegal route to eviction
Tenants have rights. Gone are the days when landlords could summarily throw families, furniture and baggage from their homes, but some may still resort to harassment tactics to force tenants from their homes such as:
- Changing the locks
- Padlocking the door
- Removing the door
- Removing your furniture or other property
- Turning off utilities
Landlords who try these methods (or anything else to keep you out of your apartment) should be reported to the police immediately since in most localities they will be in violation of the law and subject to criminal proceedings.
The legal route to eviction
To legally evict a tenant, landlords must either hire a lawyer or arrange a court date themselves to hear their case. Next, they must notify the tenant at least several days (5-10 in most jurisdictions) in advance of the hearing date. This is to give the tenant time to prepare a defense.
In court, what's a tenants best defense?: Always remaining calm and explaining your side of the story.
If possible, bring the back rent money to court to have the case dismissed. If you paid the rent, bring a receipt. If you have held back rent because your landlord didn't make necessary repairs, be sure to bring photos and any other proof of your landlord's negligence.
If you cannot pay the rent, or the judge otherwise rules in favor of the landlord, be prepared for an eviction warrant and get ready to move. Depending on individual circumstances, the judge may order removal in 72 hours or issue a "stay" to ease any economic hardship.
Why and how to avoid eviction
While the landlord may not report the eviction, it is still a matter of public record which credit agencies or other landlords can easily discover - with a little digging. If eviction isn't bad enough news, the impact that eviction has on your credit rating is similar to that of bankruptcy, effecting your chances of renting in the future or obtaining anytime soon a bank loan or credit card.
Therefore, if you think you may be any chance of losing an eviction case, it is usually in your best interest (as well as the landlord's) to come to a personal agreement, and avoid a court case altogether.