Do You Have a Viable Eviction Defense Case?
An eviction can be an overwhelming and stressful legal process to face. The prospect of losing one’s home is stressful enough without having to fill out legal documents. Many tenants expect their attorneys to save them from eviction without any further work by them. However, an attorney in many eviction lawsuits can only delay the inevitable eviction or persuade the landlord or property owner to accept a reasonable settlement instead of full payment for rent or damages. Below are some guideposts to keep in mind when meeting with an attorney to get the best value for your case:
Evictions for Non-Payment of Rent
Most eviction cases are brought because a tenant is unable to pay the rent. The landlord or property manager will usually agree to end an eviction if the tenant pays back the rent and can make payments in the future. An attorney can help a tenant negotiate with the landlord or property manager, but a resolution will usually be reached fairly quickly.
Evictions for Breach of Contract
Tenants may also be evicted for violating the lease. For instance, a tenant who brings in a pet when the building has a no-pet policy may be subject to eviction for violating the lease. Tenants may also be evicted for smoking in a non-smoking building, disturbing or harassing other tenants, or damaging the property. These cases will revolve around the parties’ interpretation of the lease and the frequency and severity of the violations. An attorney could potentially overcome against this type of eviction, but landlords with solid leases and evidence may ultimately prevail.
A Landlord’s Property Rights Will Offer Supersede a Tenant’s Property Rights
While tenants may have a right to use a property, tenant property rights are ultimately subordinate to the property owner’s right to the property they own. Landlords cannot randomly evict tenants, but landlords can evict tenants for reasons that have nothing to do with the tenants under certain circumstances.
In many jurisdictions, landlord can reclaim their property if the landlord decides to leave the rental business or intends to move a family member into the property. An attorney can help a tenant negotiate with the landlord for additional time or compensation, but legally the landlord will inevitably regain the property if the eviction is legitimate.
Most states have a legal process for landlords to follow if they must evict a tenant. Landlords are generally prohibited from engaging in “self-help” tactics to remove a tenant. Landlords generally cannot change the locks on a unit, turn off the heater or air conditioning, or take other measures to lock a tenant out or to encourage them from moving out.
Tenants who are the victims of self-help schemes may be owed compensation for lost property and lost use of the property, in addition to potential retaliation claims. Tenants who are abused by a landlord’s self-help tactics should immediately contact an attorney to figure out their best course of action.
Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer for Help with an Eviction Proceeding?
An eviction can be very complex, whether you are a residential tenant or a commercial tenant. If you are the victim of self-help tactics or landlord harassment, it may be helpful to consult with a skilled landlord tenant lawyer. Your attorney can advise you regarding the laws that apply to your situation as well as how to preserve your rights.