Know Your Rights as a Tenant!
If you are a tenant, an issue that would have bothered you is whether your landlord can evict you from the house? If the landlord asks you to leave, should you have to vacate immediately? Is there any solution to this? What are your rights as a tenant? The answers to all these questions are discussed here.
When you stay as a tenant in a house, the landlord may ask you to leave the house. The first thing you need to know is that the landlord cannot ask you just like that to leave. He has to give you a notice of eviction asking you to leave. Sufficient time has to be given in the notice. Therefore as a tenant, you have a right to expect an eviction notice before being asked to leave.
Let’s assume the landlord sends you an eviction notice. What do you do then?
You can find out what is the reason mentioned in the eviction notice and try to work on fixing that reason. You can even choose to ignore the notice, in which case the landlord has to take you to court to get an eviction order. So, for the landlord to evacuate you, there are procedures involved, and as a tenant, you have rights that are meant to protect you.
The laws, of course, vary from state to state. In general, the laws are in favor of the tenant and the landlord cannot throw out a tenant and has to follow procedures.
When a landlord sends an eviction notice, there are two types one with cause and the other without cause.1. Eviction notice with the cause: Here, the landlord needs to provide a cause or reason for asking you to leave. It could be because you have not paid rent on time, have damaged the property, carried out illegal activities, or violating the terms of the rental agreement. In case you get such a notice, you can try and fix the cause mentioned, like paying up the rent, so that the landlord would withdraw the notice.
2. Eviction notice without cause: Even if you are a good tenant, a landlord can ask you to leave without any reason. He can send you a warning asking you to vacate the house. In such a case, a notice period of 30 to 60 days needs to be given. In some states, eviction without cause is not allowed.
Lawsuits Against Eviction
Once the landlord sends a notice, you need to try and rectify the cause given in the notice. If you do not do it within the specified time, the landlord will file a lawsuit. Similarly, in case of notice without cause, if you do not vacate, the landlord can take you to court.
Once the landlord files the lawsuit, you to go to court, where you can present your defense. Some of the defense available to you under the law are:
- You can say that you have fixed the causes for eviction mentioned by the landlord and hence should not be evicted.
- You can also point out any procedural lapses on the landlord in issuing notice.
- You can claim that you didn’t pay rent as the landlord didn’t make repairs, etc.
In case you lose the lawsuit, the landlord cannot throw you out himself. He has to approach the sheriff or the local official concerned who will notify you to leave.
As a tenant, you thus have rights and cannot be thrown out of the street by the landlord. You have the right to be served notice, and you have the right to defend yourself in court.