In 2016 alone, landlords filed more than 2.3 million evictions in the United States. That means millions of people got displaced from their homes and had to find new and safe places to live.
With economic uncertainty, that number is likely to increase, making it more common for tenants to receive letters of eviction.
If your landlord recently sent you an eviction letter, you’re likely wondering what you need to do next. Here’s what you need to know to deal with the eviction process.
Figure Out Why You Got the Eviction Letter
Every eviction letter should explain exactly why you’re getting evicted and how long you have to vacate the property. Take the time to read your letter closely. Look for any reasons your landlord lists that might let you know why you’re getting evicted.
If they don’t explain why you’re facing eviction, contact them, and ask for clarification. If possible, ask for their reasons in writing. This will protect you legally should you have to go to court.
You can also take a look at what you’ve done in the past to see if the landlord has a reason for initiating the eviction process. Have you paid rent on time? Did you knowingly violate the terms of your lease?
If so, your landlord has grounds for eviction.
Try to make a note of the important dates in the letter. You should have a deadline to respond to the letter and a deadline to vacate the property. You’ll need to stick with those dates to avoid further issues with your landlord.
Read Your Lease Agreement
After you receive the letter, pull out your copy of your lease agreement. Read through it and make sure you’ve upheld your end of the contract.
Most lease agreements have clearly outlined terms that allow you to stay in your home. They also have terms that outline when the landlord can evict you.
If you’ve met the terms of your lease agreement, you’re able to fight the eviction legally. If the reasons the landlord cites in the eviction letter aren’t listed as valid reasons for eviction in your lease agreement, you may also be able to fight the eviction in court.
Try Talking to Your Landlord
Evictions are a legal process and help protect landlords from tenants who willfully violate the terms of their lease agreements. Just because you received an eviction letter doesn’t mean your landlord necessarily wants to kick you out. They may be willing to negotiate.
If possible, try speaking with your landlord to discuss the eviction. See if there’s anything you can do to keep the eviction from going forward.
Some landlords will allow you to stay on the property if you agree to repay overdue rent amounts and can provide proof that you’ll be able to pay future amounts.
Keep in mind that not all landlords will negotiate with you. Some will try to force the eviction even if you’re able to make good on overdue rent. If this is the case, you’ll want to get legal help as soon as possible.
Contact an Attorney A.S.A.P.
Believe it or not, there are attorneys who specialize in helping tenants navigate the eviction process. According to the team behind litigationadvocates.com, attorneys may even be able to stop the eviction if the landlord isn’t following local laws and regulations.
However, you have to take legal action quickly if you want your case to be successful.
The best thing you can do is speak with an attorney as soon as you receive the eviction notice. They’ll be able to look at your case and tell you if there’s anything you can do to fight the eviction. If you can fight, they’ll represent your case in court and help you deal with your landlord.
If you win your case, you’ll be able to stay in your rental until the end of your lease.
If there’s nothing you can do to legally contest the eviction or you lose the case, they can advise you on the next steps you’ll need to take to fulfill your end of the agreement.
Start Exploring Your Options
Should the eviction process continue, you’ll want to start looking for a new place to stay as soon as you can. This can be anywhere from your family’s home to your friend’s couch. It all depends on what you’re comfortable with.
Keep in mind that you’ll need to be out by the date outlined in the eviction letter. Otherwise, the landlord can take further legal action against you.
The last thing you want to deal with is an additional fine or legal fees after getting kicked out of your rental.
Be Honest With Future Landlords
If you do get evicted, there’s a good chance that it will hurt your credit score and make it more difficult for you to qualify for a new apartment. Some landlords refuse to rent to people with evictions on their records, but others may be willing to work with you. You just need to know what type you’re dealing with early on.
Instead of trying to cover up the eviction, be honest with each landlord you speak with. Let them know what happened and what you’ve done to ensure that it won’t happen again. For example, if you’ve recently gotten a new job and can now afford rent without a problem, offer to give the prospective landlord a copy of your paystub.
Often, landlords are willing to work with you if you’re open and can explain what contributed to the eviction.
Handle the Eviction Process With Grace
The best thing you can do when navigating the eviction process is to be patient, communicative, and understanding. Instead of responding angrily, take your time and assess the situation calmly. Speak with an attorney and discuss your options so you know what you can and can’t do to help you stay in your rental.
Remember, getting an eviction letter doesn’t mean you’ll get evicted from your rental. It just means you need to speak with your landlord and find an attorney to discuss your options. Once you do, you’ll be able to figure out your next steps easily.
Looking for more tips to help you better understand your lease agreement? Check out our latest posts.