Eviction isn't just about a landlord telling a tenant to move. Eviction is a legal process that can have serious and ongoing ramifications for tenants. If you are having issues with your landlord, it is a good idea to get them resolved before eviction becomes a possibility. Even if your parents are happy to have you move back in for awhile, an eviction on your record can make it really hard to move back out.
Why Avoiding Eviction is So Important
You Lose Your Home
Not having a place to live is a very bad thing. Not only do you lose a place to rest, sleep, cook, eat, and spend time with your family, but you also lose storage for your possessions. Losing your home can mean that you lose most of your possessions, too.
You May Still be on the Hook for Rent
When your landlord takes you to court, she may not only try to get you evicted, but she may also be able to get a monetary judgment against you for back rent, property damages, and possibly additional rent if you had a lease and she is unable to get a new renter for your place.
Eviction is a Matter of Public Record
Anyone who wants to search court records can find information about your eviction. This includes employees for credit bureaus, employment background check companies, and tenant screening services.
Your Credit Score Can be Damaged
If your landlord wins a monetary judgment against you as part of the eviction, this can appear on your credit report. Negative credit report information can affect your chances of getting a job, a loan, or even insurance.
Future Difficulty in Finding Rental Housing
Landlords hate evictions and generally don't want to rent to tenants with an eviction on their record. Tenant screening services regularly search courthouse records for eviction history. If a potential landlord orders a tenant screening report and finds an eviction, she will likely deny your rental application.
How to Avoid Eviction
Pay Your Rent
Organize your finances so that no matter what happens, your rent gets paid. Take the bus to work to save on gas, visit a food bank if your cupboard is bare, but always get your rent to your landlord on time.
Read over your lease or rental agreement carefully, and make sure you follow all of your landlord's rules. If your landlord seems unhappy with you, your family members, or your roommates, speak to him and find out if there is something you can do to correct the situation.
Keep your canceled rent checks or rent receipts in a secure, but accessible, place. Pay your rent by personal check: Most banks will keep copies of your canceled checks for you, making it easy for you to prove that your rent is paid up.
Take Quit Notices Seriously
In most states, a landlord must give you a written notice of his intention to evict you. This "quit notice" may also inform you of any conditions under which you can save your home, such as paying back rent, or reducing your noise levels.
Contact a Lawyer, Legal Aid or a Tenant Union
Tenant unions, lawyers and legal aid can help you understand your rights and may be able to intercede with your landlord on your behalf. If you end up in court, having a lawyer with you can sometimes prevent the eviction entirely or at least get you more time in your home.
Negotiate With Your Landlord
If your landlord is determined to evict you, try and work out a move-out date that works for both of you, rather than going to court.
Seek Eviction Mediation
Eviction mediation services are available in some areas. Mediators are neutral third-parties that work with you and your landlord to sort out differences. You may not be able to stay in your home, but mediation may help you prevent an eviction proceeding. Your county courthouse, housing authority, or legal aid services may be able to refer you to a mediator.
Go to Court
If all else fails and your landlord files for an eviction, be sure to go to court on the date of your hearing. Even if your landlord wins her case, you may still be able to get the judge to grant you extra time to move out.