A very tense process that must be executed to the letter of the law, by both the landlord and the tenant, in order to be successful.
Evictions are one of the most emotionally charged topics in the area of real estate law. You are either asking a family to leave your property, or being asked to leave the place you call your home – it is usually not a pleasant time for either party.
A landlord must provide to the tenant written notice of the eviction for noncompliance, specifying that they are choosing to terminate the rental agreement and the why.
An eviction can occur because of either these circumstances:
- A tenant has not paid rent. The landlord will give the tenant a “three day notice” where the tenant must either pay the rent or vacate the premises within three working days of receipt of the notice.
- A tenant has committed a violation in one, or any, of the terms set forth by the lease agreement. For a lease violation the landlord must provide a “seven day notice” for the tenant to rectify the violation or vacate the premises within seven working days of receipt of the notice. One thing to note is that a landlord must execute a degree of reasonableness when they first are made aware of a lease violation. They must give the tenant a reasonable amount of time to remedy the violation before they start an eviction process.
A landlord should not resource to intimidation or unlawful activities when evicting a tenant.
A landlord cannot:
- Shut off utilities, like power, heat, gas, water, or garbage collection
- Block or barrier tenant access to the unit, like changing the locks on the doors
- Remove any part of the dwelling like outside doors, locks, roof, windows, or walls
- Remove any of the tenant’s personal property unless it occurs after surrender or abandonment by the tenant
- Additionally a landlord cannot act in a retaliatory manner against a tenant for reporting them to a state agency, for not maintaining a unit “up to their standard”, not having the same political or religious beliefs, or being called for active military duty.
If a tenant is able to demonstrate that a landlord has conducted any of the above mentioned activities, the landlord may be subject to liability to the tenant for actual or consequential damages or three months rent, whichever is greater, and costs including attorney’s fees.
Additionally, if a tenant believes that the landlord is acting in bad faith and can prove that the reason for the eviction is causeless and that they have not broken any of the terms of the lease, they can stall the eviction process by fighting it. If a tenant stays past the notice period, the landlord must file a complaint against the tenant in court in the county where the residence is located. When the tenant receives a copy of the complaint from the court, they have five working days to respond and prove to the court the baselessness of the complaint. A judge will review both the complaint and answer and rule in behalf on one of the parties.
Either starting or fighting an eviction process is a very complicated legal matter since the statutes protecting both tenant and landlord rights are very lengthy and complex. A person can act as his or her own agent in either circumstance but we advice against it since missing a simple date on an eviction notice can cause the entire eviction process to be nullified and cause an additional cost to the landlord and a longer eviction period.
We have counseled and represented both landlords and tenants that are going through an eviction. Let us help you make an informed decision and walk you through this very complicated process.