Rent debts after quarantine: how the eviction process works in the USA and how it can be avoided
The federal moratorium on evictions expires on June 30, some states have introduced local moratoriums, but they also remain in force in most of the fall. What do tenants need to prepare for, how the eviction takes place and what you need to know the edition told Nolo.
Your landlord cannot evict you without terminating the lease. This usually means giving you proper written notice in the specified order and form. If you do not move after receiving proper notice, or if you change your lifestyle — for example, by paying rent or finding a new home for your dog — the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit. This type of lawsuit is sometimes called illegal detention or UD lawsuit. To win, the landlord must prove that you did something wrong, which justifies the termination of the lease.
State laws contain detailed requirements for homeowners wishing to end their lease. Each state has its own procedures for how termination notices and eviction documents must be written and delivered to the tenant. Landlords must strictly adhere to state policies and procedures.
Evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic
Many states and cities have imposed eviction moratoriums during the COVID-19 outbreak. Even if there is no ban, most courts in the United States have postponed hearings on minor issues, including eviction hearings. However, most courts still handle eviction cases that are not based on debt, but for other reasons, such as selling drugs on the site or endangering other people or property.
Regardless of whether your area has an eviction moratorium, you still have to pay rent. Your landlord may be able to set late fees, interest, or other penalties for late rent. If you don't think you can pay rent due to COVID-19 issues, you have options and you should talk to your landlord as soon as possible.
Visit your local court website for more information on the status of eviction lawsuits in your area. Also consider getting help from federal, local, private, or non-profit sources.
When can a landlord send a termination notice due to
Although the terminology differs slightly from state to state, there are three main types of termination notices that you can receive if you breach your lease in any way:
- Rental payment notification, which are usually sent to someone who has not paid the rent. You are given several days (three to five in most states) to pay your rent or to check out.
- Correction or eviction notices, which are usually sent to those who violate the terms of the lease, for example, a clause that prohibits pets or a promise to refrain from excessive noise. You usually have a certain amount of time to correct the violation.
- Unconditional checkout noticeswho are the most severe of all. The tenant must vacate the premises without the possibility of paying the rent or correcting the violation of the lease agreement.
In most states, unconditional withdrawal notices are only allowed if you have:
- repeated violation of the essential terms of the lease;
- being late with rent more than once;
- serious damage to the premises;
- attempts to engage in illegal activities, such as drug trafficking in the territory.
When a landlord can send a termination notice for no reason
Even if you haven't breached your lease or were late in paying your rent, the landlord can probably ask you to move out at any time (assuming you don't have a lease with a term) if the landlord gives you a long enough notice.
A 30 day eviction notice or 60 days notice of eviction to end a lease can be used in most states when the landlord has no good reason to end the lease.
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Many cities with rent controls go beyond state law and require the landlord to prove a legally recognized reason for terminating the contract. These laws are known as “just cause eviction protection”.
When a landlord can file an eviction claim
After receiving notice of termination, if you have not moved out and repaired the violation of the lease, the landlord must properly serve you an eviction summons in order to proceed with the eviction.
The court will set the date and time for a hearing or trial before a judge. You must appear at this hearing. If you don't, the judge will most likely rule against you, even if you have possible eviction protection.
Possible tenant objections to eviction
If the case goes to court, you reduce the homeowner's chances of winning. You may have pointed out errors in the documentation when preparing your eviction claim. Or maybe illegal behavior by the landlord, such as not keeping the rental property habitable. This will serve as a good defense, as will the claim that the eviction lawsuit is in response to your insistence on necessary major repairs.
Escorting the sheriff during the checkout
Even if the landlord wins the eviction lawsuit, they can't just carry you and your belongings onto the sidewalk. Landlords must submit the court decision to local law enforcement. The sheriff will notify you that an officer will come within a few days to escort you out of the territory. At this point, it is better to admit defeat and leave on your own.
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