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Do I Need A Lawyer If I Received an Eviction Notice?

Should You Get a Lawyer for Eviction Notice?

Evictions happen every day and while most are justified, some are not. In these cases, many people don’t realize how the process is supposed to work and what rights they have. An eviction notice is typically a formal letter warning tenants of what will happen if they do not adhere to the terms and conditions of the lease. The eviction notice will outline the tenants’ violations, and most importantly when the eviction process will begin.

This of course isn’t a great situation if you are the tenant and you may wonder how or if you should get involved legally.

So the question is, do you need a lawyer if you received an eviction notice? Depending on where you live, the eviction notice may be a formal letter or a court summons. In either case, there are certain rules and regulations that landlords must follow to evict a tenant for any reason. And because of that, tenants have legal rights to fight an eviction notice if they do not want to be forced out of their living situation. If you do not believe the eviction is justified, it’s best to get a lawyer on your side sooner than later so they can work with you throughout this difficult time.

It’s important to keep in mind that a lawyer will only be beneficial if you need one. If the eviction notice is justified or can be mediated easily then don’t hire a lawyer.

However, if you feel that you are being treated unfairly, discriminated against, or being scammed, then a lawyer could be essential. We will go over everything there is to know about evictions in this article, so keep reading.

When To Get A Lawyer

There are many reasons why you may need a lawyer during your eviction process. The most common and obvious would be if your landlord wants to evict you without proper cause or formal warning.

If there are faulty lease agreement terms that could lead to eviction then it’s necessary to get legal representation as well. A lease is a legal contract that both tenants and landlords must abide by, but the terms of this contract can be ambiguous making it hard to understand the consequences.

This is why you need a professional on your side if there are any misunderstandings or disputes over issues like property damage, nonpayment of rent, or anything else.

In addition to this, a lawyer would be beneficial if you feel you are being evicted due to discriminatory reasons. If you belong in a protected class such as race, religion, color, nationality, gender, disability status, or sexual orientation then there are legal protections in place.

Eviction Process

To clearly understand your rights as a tenant you should know how the eviction process works. It’s important to remember that not all evictions are legal or justified, and for this reason, it can be easy to defend yourself.

  1. An eviction process begins when a landlord gives notice of an upcoming eviction to their tenant(s). In most states, landlords aren’t allowed to evict tenants unless they give proper notice. This means that any eviction notices received before the end of the lease term are invalid. For month-to-month tenants, a landlord can give at least 30 days’ notice before filing an eviction suit in court.
  2. After the formal notice has been given, your landlord files a complaint against you with the local district court. As soon as the complaint is filed, you will receive a court summons. This summons will state when and where your hearing will be held as well as any relevant information.
  3. The reason your landlord is taking legal action against you must be stated in the eviction papers or during the hearing itself. There are several reasons for eviction which we will go over later. If you disagree with the reason then you can provide your evidence in defense.
  4. At the eviction hearing, both parties (landlord and tenant) will be presenting their cases to an assigned judge for deliberation. The landlord must prove why they are evicting the tenant in front of the judge, while tenants have their say when it’s their turn. If the judge deems that the eviction is justified then you will be forced to vacate your property and pay any dues. However, if it’s ruled that you are being wrongfully evicted then you can stay on your property and possibly seek damage compensation.

The Role Of A Lawyer In An Eviction Case

After reviewing all the information, you might be tempted to think that only “guilty” tenants need a lawyer. However, it’s important to know that even if you are innocent having an expert on your side will benefit you in multiple ways.

First of all, your landlord must provide proof of their reason for evicting you. If they can’t produce evidence then it could be seen as a legal error. Lawyers know the right questions to ask and can keep your landlord honest during the hearing.

It’s also important to understand that most people don’t have any experience in eviction law, so how would you know if something is illegal? If you feel like your rights might be violated, then seeing a lawyer will give your case the credibility it needs.

If you are being discriminated against for any reason (i.e. age, disability status, sexual orientation, etc.) then having legal representation is key to fighting back. Many states offer free legal aid for low-income families or minorities in special circumstances.

What Are The Common Reasons For Eviction?

While every situation is different and will vary depending on where you live, there are a few common reasons people get eviction notices. They include:

Non-Payment of Rent

This is the most common reason for eviction, but it’s also one of the easiest to fight. If you can prove that you did pay your rent in full, then it’s likely that the judge will rule in your favor.

Breach of Contract

When you sign a lease agreement with your landlord they are agreeing to provide certain services (i.e. keep the property safe and habitable, maintain common areas, etc.).

If you violate any of these provisions your landlord can take legal action to ensure they receive compensation for damages. This can also include having pets if your contract doesn’t allow it.

Use of Property

Landlords can evict tenants if they have been using their home in a way that violates the terms of their lease agreement or local laws (i.e. if you start running a business out of your apartment or allow too many people to live there).

Lease violations If you are in breach of your lease agreement then your landlord can issue an eviction notice. These violations include having pets when none are allowed, playing loud music at night, etc.

Disturbing the Peace

Most leases will have a provision about disturbing your neighbors. If you engage in any activity that is considered illegal or dangerous, then your landlord can have you evicted if they take action against you for this reason.

What Are The Consequences Of An Unjustified Eviction?

  1. After the judge has ruled whether or not you are being evicted justly, they will notify both parties of their decision. If you are being legally evicted then the court cannot do anything to change this outcome, but if it’s ruled that you are being wrongfully evicted then the ruling will benefit you.
  2. If an eviction is ruled unjustified then your landlord may have to pay for your damage fees and/or court costs. This could also result in them losing their rental license if the violation has any recurring problems. It’s due to this reason that landlords are often very careful when trying to evict a tenant.
  3. If you have any concerns about an eviction notice you’ve received it’s best to consult with a lawyer. A lawyer is vital in assisting you during the eviction process since they understand the law and your rights better than most people do. Additionally, they can assist you in protecting your damages if needed or help reduce the amount of money you owe.

How Long Does An Eviction Process Take?

It’s difficult to estimate how long an eviction will take since every state’s laws are different. Some states allow landlords to evict tenants without a court order, while some require a judge’s approval.

If you choose to fight your eviction, then this process could drag on for some time. If you have a lawyer that is experienced in fighting wrongful evictions they can help push the process along and ensure it doesn’t take much longer than necessary.

Summary

Now that we have covered the basics of an eviction notice, it’s important to know that there are often legal implications if you receive one. If you are being wrongfully evicted it’s important to be aware of your rights and consult with a lawyer before anything else.

In summary, most of the time you will not need a lawyer if you receive an eviction notice. Try to work things out with your landlord first. Then decide if the eviction threat is warranted or not. Otherwise, get a lawyer if you feel like legal action is necessary to protect yourself.

Written By

Matt has over 10 years of legal writing experience. He's worked and written for legal websites for serval websites including Truskett Law, Bruner Law, Jeffrey & Erwin, Gary Crews, PLLC., Deposition Academy, and Wagner & Lynch.

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