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What to do when you are being evicted

    Most tenants who are facing eviction are being evicted as a consequence of nonpayment of rent. Others may face eviction for a variety of reasons, including violation of lease terms, creation of a health or safety hazard, or even a personality dispute with a landlord. The steps you may take to avoid being evicted for non-payment of rent depend on the jurisdiction in which you live. In most places, paying past-due rent is the most reliable way to put an end to eviction proceedings. The best time to pay is usually before your landlord officially starts the eviction process. You may still have a chance to pay your past-due rent or make payment arrangements right up until the point when a judge or magistrate decides in your landlordís favor. Below are some steps you can take.

    Note: While landlord-tenant law, and the laws governing the eviction process, can change substantially between jurisdictions, there are some generalities which apply for most jurisdictions. If you are facing eviction you should check with a lawyer or tenant's union in your area, so you can learn the specific laws which apply to your situation. The following information is of a general nature, and may or may not apply where you reside.

The first step

    It's important to read the eviction notice you receive carefully when you're trying to avoid eviction. Many people receive eviction notices and think they are required to move out right away. Often, however, these notices give the tenants days to pay their rent before the landlord will even file for eviction or take other legal steps to evict the tenants. You may do well to take note of the date on which your landlord says he will proceed and pay your rent before that date.

    If you cannot pay your rent in the time period your landlord has allowed, your case may end up in court. If you want to avoid being evicted, it is critical that you show up for court. If you fail to show up, a judge may rule in your landlordís favor based solely on your absence; this is referred to as a default judgment. In such a case, your landlord may be permitted to proceed with evicting you, but you will probably still owe the landlord for past-due rent. In many jurisdictions, tenants who lose their cases are liable for court costs as well.

    Your best bet at avoiding eviction it to obtain professional help. Below are some links to help you get started:

stopevictions.xyz- This site has low cost eviction defense services.

    Once a court date is set for eviction, you may worry that you have no way left to avoid being evicted. In most jurisdictions, however, it is still possible to stop eviction at this point. If you show up for court with the past-due amount you owe the landlord, you may have the opportunity to pay the landlord and avoid eviction. Some landlords may be willing to negotiate payment arrangements at this juncture as well. In general, however, you will have a better chance to avoid being evicted if you arrive in court prepared to pay the entire past-due amount.

Are there any tricks I can use?

    There are a few, however none are a substitute for professional help. If you are going to go it alone, here are some tricks you can use. Keep in mind: laws vary by city, these may or may not work where you live, and of course we are not responsible for the results.

Trick 1: Make a partial payment

    If the landlord accepts partial payment (no matter how small) prior to obtaining a judgment on a nonpayment action, upon learning of the acceptance of the payment most jurisdictions will dismiss any eviction proceeding premised on nonpayment of rent. The landlord must then start the process over, in relation to any additional rents owed. So write them a check for $5. Just make sure you can prove it was deposited by your landlord.

Trick 2: Shift the blame

   If the rental property is in bad condition due to the landlord's negligence, withholding rent is a valid means for the tenant to force correction of the situation. If not done correctly, however, it can also be a reason for a notice to quit to posted and eviction pursued. You must generally inform the landlord of your intent to withhold rent prior to actually doing so. Thus, if a notice to quit has been served or failure to pay, it's a good idea to get current on the rent (get a receipt) and then inform the landlord of your intent to withhold rent until the bad conditions are remedied, thus shifting the blame. To show you're really serious, you can make a complaint with the local housing authority or code enforcer. Please note that you probably do not have the right to unilaterally withhold rent until the landlord fixes a problem with your rental unit. You typically will have to escrow the rent - put it into a special account, perhaps a court account - with proper notice to the landlord of the escrow and the defect that justifies the rent escrow. If you don't follow the proper procedures for your jurisdiction, you may be subject to eviction for nonpayment despite your full intention to pay all the rent you owe. (Also, many tenants who fully intend to pay but who do not use a proper escrow account find that they spend the rent they are withholding, and are evicted when they are unable to pay the back rent after the problem is resolved.) Check with a local lawyer or tenant's organization before attempting to withhold or escrow rent, so you can make sure that you follow the local law.

Trick 3: Bankruptcy

    When a tenant files for bankruptcy, the "automatic stay" will prevent the continuation of eviction proceedings until the bankruptcy is resolved, or the bankruptcy court otherwise permits eviction proceedings to continue by lifting the stay. This can prevent a pending eviction, and may result in the full or partial discharge of a rent arrearage. Please note, however, that the bankrupt tenant remains obligated to pay any new rent obligations which arise from continued tenancy after the bankruptcy is filed, and failure to keep current with post-petition rent payments may result in eviction.

Check out freebankrupcyhelp.xyz for a list of local places to get a free consultation.

Trick 4: Bringing a Counter-Claim (aka sue 'em back)

    Some tenants will bring a counter-claim against a landlord in response to an action for eviction. A counter-claim may contend that an eviction should be stopped, on the basis that it is a "retaliatory eviction" resulting from the tenant's complaint to a government agency about housing violations by the landlord. (Please note that such complaints must be made before the landlord commences the eviction process in order to be valid, and may not provide much of a defense against an eviction for nonpayment of rent.) A counter-claim may seek damages for violation of consumer protection laws, or a rent abatement due to problems with the apartment.

While some states have very few protections for tenants, in most jurisdictions tenants have rights including:

The right to heat;

The right to running water (hot and cold);

The right to proper garbage removal (from the designated receptacle - e.g., the apartment's dumpster);

The right to have common areas (e.g., lobbies, stairways, halls) maintained in a clean and safe manner;

The right to housing in compliance with state and local building codes and housing regulations.

An action for a "rent abatement" requests that the court give the tenant credit against the rent for any period of time when those rights weren't filled, or when the landlord wasn't complying with the lease. The request may range from a small percentage for a minor violation, to the request that the entire amount of the rent be abated if the apartment was effectively rendered uninhabitable by the landlord's violation.

Trick 5: Go to court.

    If the date on the notice to quit comes and goes with no change, the landlord will likely file a complaint, which will be served on the tenant with a summons to appear in court. Up until the day in court, the landlord and tenant can resolve their issues and go back to life as usual. At the hearing, the landlord will make their case for eviction, and at this point, it's usually difficult for a tenant to defeat the eviction proceedings without strong documentary evidence and/or witnesses that refute the landlords claims.

Trick 6: Talk to the landlord

    Sometimes you can work things out before court. For example, if the lease prohibits the ownership of pets, a tenant may be able to negotiate an additional cleaning fee or monthly rent premium to be paid to the landlord for permission to keep the pet. In one real-life case, a tenant made a deal with the landlord to live in an apartment with tattered carpeting in exchange for being permitted to keep a cat. The landlord would otherwise have had to incur the cost of replacing the old and worn carpeting, and wasn't worried that the cat would damage a carpet that was already due for replacement.

Trick 7: Extend your stay

    Upon being evicted by the court, a tenant usually has up to five days to vacate the premises. You can ask the court for up to six months through a formal "stay of execution," though the decision is at the judge's discretion. If the eviction was for failure to pay rent, the tenant can get an extra three months' stay if he posts all back rent with the court.

     If you've done everything you can to avoid being evicted, but the legal eviction process is moving forward anyway, you will likely have to move. Many jurisdictions will allow you additional time to vacate the rental unit after your court date. In some jurisdictions, you will be given a day or two while others may allow three weeks or more. Typically, even after judgment the tenant has a period of time during which the back rent can be paid, so as to avoid eviction.