Eviction is the legal process through which a landlord removes a tenant from their property. Each state in the U.S has specific eviction laws and procedures; however, some general eviction rules apply to landlords and tenants residing in any state.
A tenant can be evicted if their lease is violated or expired, the rental term expires, or the tenant does not pay rent on time. Here is how long the process takes after the tenant violates the rental agreement.
A landlord can also evict the tenant if they refuse to leave after the rental agreement has expired. Other reasons for evictions include excessive damage to the property or being a nuisance to the neighbors.
Self-help eviction, which is the process of forcing a tenant out of your property, is not allowed in almost all states in the U.S. This means that a landlord is not allowed to lock the tenant outside the house, deprive them of basic utilities, or throw their belongings out of the property to get them to leave.
The notice to vacate should include a clear deadline for the tenant to vacate the premises. If the tenant does not act accordingly and the notice expires, the landlord can move further with the eviction process. However, this process may vary depending on the state where you reside.
Many states do not require the landlord to send their tenant a written notice. If the lease agreement has been violated, the landlord can immediately file an eviction.
Filing an eviction action, the time it takes for the tenant to respond, and scheduling an eviction can take anywhere between a few days to several weeks, depending on the state laws and the specifics of the case.
The first hearing can allow the plaintiff and the defendant to settle on an agreement. A tenant that is facing eviction due to non-payment of rent can be allowed to redeem the tenancy by paying off the balance. The judicial officer decides whether the tenant can stay or move out in the second hearing.
The court may postpone the eviction to give the tenant more time to move out or make amends. This happens with the tenant files a stay of execution. A stay of execution is filed to delay the order of eviction. In most states, it can extend the eviction process by six months.
In some states, the tenant may be given a deadline to file an appeal before the eviction process is carried out. Filing an appeal can delay the eviction process.
While some U.S states hold only one trial for eviction cases, some courts may hold two trials depending on the lack of evidence in the case.
A tenant can file a motion to quash in which they can argue for the incorrect serving of summons or complaints. However, the motion to quash is often denied by courts and the tenant is required to submit a response to eviction action within 5 days.
The tenant’s answer to the complaint can add more time to the case. Most tenants file a demurrer before the trial, which challenges the legal standing of the landlord’s eviction action.
While eviction lawsuits may not take a lot of time in most states, if the tenant decides to fight the eviction by filing an appeal or stay of execution, the entire process can drag on for many months. An experienced attorney can help you avoid the potential risk of being sued by the tenant for illegal discrimination, injury, or failure to maintain the rental property.
A tenant can exercise many legal actions to delay the eviction. Having the assistance of a professional can allow you to speed up the eviction process. Your attorney can give you expert advice on how to successfully file for eviction and not find yourself stuck with extensions and delays.
Disputes between neighbors can disturb the peace of the entire community. However, if you find yourself in a situation where you feel uncomfortable around your neighbor or their behavior is inappropriate or threatening, you can take legal action.
The primary legal action you can take is to file a police report against your neighbor for harassment. An official police report record can aid you in legal action against your neighbor.
It is crucial to have an understanding of what qualifies as harassment. For instance, if your neighbor accidentally damages your property, such as hitting your fence while driving, it does not qualify as an act of harassment. Harassment is intentional and continual verbal or physical abuse. Here are some general guidelines on what qualifies as harassment by a neighbor:
Before a trial, you can request the court for a restraining order by providing reasonable evidence that your neighbor is harassing you. The restraining order can allow the police to take action against your neighbor if your safety is at risk.
If your request for a restraining order is approved, you should keep a copy of it with you at all times until the court gives a final verdict on your neighbor's harassment case. If your neighbor violates the restraining order, they can be in contempt of court and face serious consequences.
You can take the issue to a local court to sue your neighbor for harassment. You can represent yourself in a local court, which is also known as a small claims court. However, it may take some time to prove that your neighbor is guilty of harassment.
You should provide strong evidence of harassment to win the case against your neighbor. If you do not have enough knowledge regarding legal matters, you can get the help of a professional attorney.
If your neighbor is being offensive or you are a victim of any form of neighbor harassment, ensure that you do not engage or respond the same way to their inappropriate behavior. You should keep your distance and document any proof of harassment.
Use your cell phone to record whatever they do around you. Ensure that you have an entry of the time and date of the harassment. You can write it down in a notebook. You can share the evidence with your attorney if you decide to get professional legal representation for the case.
As mentioned earlier, filing a police report against your neighbor helps you build a strong case and can be used as evidence in court.
Here is what you can expect from a harassment lawsuit:
The type of lawyer you need to contact depends upon the nature of the harassment that took place. For instance, if your neighbor harassed you due to a shared property dispute, you can hire a real estate attorney.
If it is a small dispute that involves a continuous annoying or irrational behavior of your neighbor, it can be a civil case. If your neighbor commits a crime, such as stalking or any other threats to your privacy or safety, you can hire a criminal law attorney to represent you in the criminal case.
If the harassment case involves a dispute with your renters or landlords, it is best to hire a landlord-tenant law attorney. An experienced professional can help you collect evidence and inform you regarding all legal proceedings of the case.
COVID-19 rendered countless people unemployed due to the global economic downturn, and even more of them became financially destabilized. This made it tricky for a large portion of the populace to keep up with the ever-piling bills, including the rent. While the state and federal governments took some measures to protect tenants from being evicted in the aftermath of COVID-19, many of them have been withdrawn.
Thankfully, there are still some emergency bans in place which could help you out if you find yourself unable to pay your rent because of COVID-19. Read on to know what you can do to remove your landlord off your back and buy yourself some time to gather the money.
As we mentioned, the state and federal governments imposed certain emergency bans that protected tenants from abrupt evictions on delayed payment of rent. It's likely that your region of residence still has certain moratoriums on eviction in place, which you can take advantage of to buy yourself some time. Although, it should be noted that these regulations may not exempt you from the penalty fee that the landlord may impose on you for paying the rent late, especially if it was explicitly mentioned on the lease you signed.
Also, it's important to keep in mind that as soon as the moratorium ends, your landlord may be well within their right to file a notice of eviction for all the unpaid rent. So the regulations should not be taken for granted, and all the efforts must be made to keep up with the pending rents each month as much as possible to stay afloat.
Your lease would likely consist of a clause that speaks of an early end to the tenancy if you're going through some hardship and cannot pay the rent due to financial distress. COVID-19 is an apt reason to take advantage of the clause to wriggle yourself out of this tough situation. Until you find yourself financially stable again, you could move to a cheaper place without having to pay the penalty, in some cases.
To check whether you can use this clause or not, review your lease closely. A word of warning, though, keep other references under your belt while you go apartment hunting. Your landlord might be unwilling to give you a good recommendation with you using the hardship clause. You might need other tools to win the favor of your next prospective landlord.
It's no secret that the common people took the brunt of the COVID-19 situation and the economic downturn it led to. If you're lucky enough, your landlord might be willing to hear your case and strike an agreement with you.
You could ask your landlord to give you some relief in the rent payment, in any way possible, especially if you're out of a job now but are hoping to find a new one soon. You could choose any of the following arrangements or come up with your own that serves both you and your landlord.
Be sure to take it down in writing whatever agreement you come to with your landlord. Just your or your landlord's word won't hold water in court.
If everything else fails, you could probe into some other options that you can use for temporary relief. Here are some options that are worth looking into.
There are some state and national rental assistance programs that you could take advantage of. Emergency Rental Assistance Program is one such scheme that could help you out. You can check whether or not you qualify for the scheme and work your way from there. Do some research and see if there are any other schemes you could use, perhaps on the local or state level.
You could try gathering money from other sources such as unemployment compensation benefits to make up for the rent if you lost your job due to the pandemic. If you ran a small business and were forced to halt your operations to the economic downturn, you could check the Small Business Association loan terms. See if you're eligible for this kind of loan and could use the financial assistance from the scheme.
If everything else is out of the question, you would need to manage your funds more carefully to save for rent and see if your landlord can be a bit flexible with the rent till the time you're back on your feet again.