Each state has different laws governing when and how a landlord can evict a tenant. The general process includes a notice and a demand for you to leave. If you don't leave then a landlord will file a lawsuit to evict and regain possession. If your landlord wins the case then you will be forcibly removed if you don’t leave on your own.
In most jurisdictions, landlords cannot evict tenants as a form of retaliation and are required to give at least some notice before filing a lawsuit. If a landlord locks you out, turns off the utilities or kicks you out using force instead of following the legal process then you can, in many jurisdictions, have them arrested and sue them for damages.
Types of eviction
Most states have laws that state the specific reasons for eviction that are legal. This is called a just cause eviction.
In contrast, a no fault or no cause eviction is when there's no reason for kicking you out. This often happens if you are a periodic or month to month tenant. In this case you can usually be asked to leave within a reasonable time frame like thirty days. some states have specific guidelines for this, called holdover proceedings.
There are three common notices that have to be sent to you chronologically.
Cure or quit: A notice to cure or quit tells the tenant they they need to stop violating their lease agreement or leave within a certain time frame
Rent demand: A rent demand notice works like a notice to cure or quit, but specifically asks the tenant to pay owed rent or else leave. Usually they will be given no more than a few days to pay the owed rent
Notice to quit: A notice to quit orders the tenant to vacate without giving them the chance to fix the situation. in the less tenant friendly states a landlord can start with the notice to quit without giving the tenant any time to right the wrong. If you get a notice to quit that doesn’t list a reason for evicting you then your landlord is probably required to give you at least thirty days to vacate.
If you don't leave after getting a notice to quit then your landlord will send you a summons to show up in court. Their goal is to get a document from the court called a writ of possession that lets them ask a member of law enforcement to show up at the premises and force you to leave.
When you receive a court summons then you have the right to defend yourself either by showing up on the court date or sending an answer to the court to make your argument. Your counter argument might be that the landlord didn’t go through the proper steps for the eviction process exactly as it’s described in state law. You can also argue that the rental unit was uninhabitable or that the landlord is evicting you as a form of retaliation.
If a landlord wins the case then you can ask for a stay of execution to postpone the actual eviction. You might also ask the court for a right to redemption, which would give you he option to fix the issue so that you can stay.
If you think you are getting illegally evicted then select your state from the above dropdown menu to read about eviction laws in your jurisdiction.
If you are a landlord, or acting as a landlord because you are the primary tenant, then you can evict a roommate or an unwanted subtenant.
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