How Evictions Work

What Is Eviction?

Eviction is the civil course of by which a landlord might legally take away a tenant from their rental property. Eviction might happen when the tenant stops paying hire, when the phrases of the rental settlement are breached, or in different conditions permitted by legislation.

Evictions in america are ruled by particular person states and sure municipalities. Landlords are required to tell tenants they’re being evicted with a discover that specifies the rationale for the eviction and the variety of days earlier than eviction proceedings start.

Key Takeaways An eviction is the court-ordered elimination of a tenant from the property the place they reside.A landlord might determine to evict a tenant for nonpayment of hire, damages, criminal activity, violating the phrases of a lease, or if the owner needs to take possession of the property.The eviction course of usually begins with a discover from the owner that asks the tenant to treatment sure situations.If the tenant doesn’t present a treatment, then the owner can start eviction proceedings via a court docket.Judges hear testimony, evaluate proof, and determine whether or not to evict or deny a landlord’s request.

Discover to Vacate

Earlier than a landlord can begin authorized eviction proceedings, they have to give the tenant correct discover in writing. A written notification that the owner would love the tenant to maneuver out as a result of the tenant has damaged the lease is named a "discover to vacate." Texas legislation could be very particular about how the discover should be given to the tenant and what it should include. The discover should embrace: The period of time the tenant has to maneuver out or repair a sure drawback earlier than an eviction swimsuit is filed. This should be no less than 3 days except the lease particularly states in any other case. The federal CARES Act requires a 30 day discover if the property participates in sure federal packages or the property proprietor has a federally-backed mortgage. The discover may be given to the tenant in one of many following methods: In individual to the tenant or somebody within the family who’s 16 years of age or older In individual by affixing the discover to the within of the principle entry door By common mail, licensed mail, or registered mail, with return receipt If the rental doesn’t have a mailbox and if there are issues that will stop the owner from attaching discover to the within of the principle entrance (akin to keyless safety techniques or harmful animals), they might affix it to the skin of the principle entrance. It should be sealed in an envelope with acceptable markings. The owner should additionally mail it on the identical day. If the discover is given in individual or despatched by way of the mail, the time given to maneuver out earlier than the owner information an eviction swimsuit begins working as soon as it’s delivered. Whether it is hooked up to the skin of the principle entrance, the time begins working as soon as the discover is affixed to the skin of the door, no matter when the copy within the mail is delivered. Texas Regulation Part 24.005 of the Texas Property Code This part of the legislation describes the “discover to vacate” that should be given to a tenant earlier than submitting an eviction swimsuit. It discusses how the discover should be given to the tenant and what info it ought to include. Kinds Texas actual property information [electronic resource] Part 90.120 in quantity 5 of this useful resource incorporates a type for a Discover to Vacate. Understanding the Regulation Eviction Notices for Nonpayment of Hire in Texas Authorized self-help writer Nolo has written this overview of the authorized discover that’s required earlier than an eviction swimsuit may be filed.


Stage 5: Removing

Within the fifth and closing stage, after a court docket enters an eviction order, a tenant should vacate. This inherently traumatic course of may be made much more so by the involvement of legislation enforcement. Whereas a landlord can not bodily take away a tenant’s belongings or take steps to forestall the tenant from accessing the house, like boarding up the door or altering the locks—although they generally attempt—a landlord can ask the sheriff’s workplace to hold out the eviction.  

Natalie, one other former shopper whose title I’ve modified to protect attorney-client privilege, was named in an eviction motion and rapidly employed me to characterize her via the method. After the case was filed, however earlier than a judgment was entered, Natalie’s landlord tried a “self-help eviction,” altering the locks and attempting to maneuver her issues to the sidewalk. Natalie instantly known as the police to cease the owner. Initially the police have been hesitant to intervene, incorrectly decoding the grievance as a correct foundation for the owner’s actions. It was solely after Natalie known as me, and I spoke on to the responding officer, asserting Natalie’s rights and educating the officer in regards to the illegality of self-help evictions, that the police stepped in. In consequence, the owner failed in his try to illegally displace Natalie, and the case finally settled. Even at this final stage of the eviction course of, tenants face challenges defending themselves and defending their rights, particularly with out illustration. 

When a Landlord May Ship a Discover of Termination for Trigger

Though terminology varies considerably from state to state, there are mainly three forms of termination notices that you simply may obtain if in case you have violated the rental settlement or lease not directly:

  • Pay Hire or Stop Notices, that are sometimes given to somebody who has not paid the hire. These notices offer you just a few days (three to 5 in most states) to pay the hire or transfer out (“stop”).
  • Remedy or Stop Notices, that are sometimes given to somebody who violates a time period or situation of the lease or rental settlement, akin to a no-pets clause or the promise to chorus from making extreme noise. Often, you may have a set period of time through which to appropriate, or “treatment,” the violation.
  • Unconditional Stop Notices, that are the harshest of all. They order the tenant to vacate the premises with no likelihood to pay the hire or appropriate a lease or rental settlement violation. In most states, unconditional quit notices are allowed solely if in case you have:
    • repeatedly violated a major lease or rental settlement clause
    • been late with the hire on a couple of event
    • critically broken the premises, or
    • engaged in critical criminal activity, akin to drug dealing on the premises.

What Occurs after the Tenant is served with the Illegal Detainer Lawsuit In the course of the Eviction Course of?

The Uncontested Case = No Court docket Look

In about half of the circumstances in a California Eviction Course of, the tenant won’t reply to the illegal detainer lawsuit in order that the owner can have a judgment for possession entered by the Court docket. As soon as the court docket clerk enters the judgment for possession, the case is distributed to the Sheriff’s workplace for lockout proceedings.

The Sheriff goes to the property and posts a 5-Day Discover To Vacate on the entrance door. If the tenants fail to vacate inside that time frame, the Sheriff will return and bodily lock out the tenants and possession might be restored to the Landlord. Change the locks in order that the tenant can not get again into the property.

Name us immediately! The Contested Case = Court Appearance(s)

The Contested Case = Court docket Look(s)

Some tenants might have authentic defenses to an illegal detainer motion. In these circumstances, the tenant ought to win the case in opposition to the owner if there are obtrusive deficiencies within the landlord’s paperwork or critical habitability issues with the premises.

Nearly all of tenants nevertheless, have little or no defenses to the illegal detainer case and use the Court docket system to delay the eviction course of to purchase them extra time. Sadly, if the tenant information a solution, the owner should request a trial or Abstract Judgment as a way to transfer onto the following step.

Sadly, there are a lot of eviction delay companies accessible to the unscrupulous tenant and, for a nominal price; the tenant can file varied frivolous motions with the court docket to briefly halt the eviction proceeding. Many instances, the tenant won’t even hassle to mail a replica of the reply or different movement to the Landlord’s lawyer in an effort to “sandbag” them. It’s irritating to be concerned with a tenant who pulls these authorized methods and maneuvers however the California court docket system permits tenants to file the next response/motions no matter whether or not there’s any benefit or fact in them.

Options to Eviction

You are able to do considered one of three issues after you obtain discover that you simply're going to be evicted. You may try to "treatment" or resolve the violation or drawback; you’ll be able to transfer out earlier than you're formally evicted; or you’ll be able to contest the eviction in court docket if you happen to suppose you may have legitimate trigger.

Resolving the Violation

Discuss to your landlord in regards to the problem and attempt to work out a deal to keep away from the eviction course of if you happen to're unable to pay your hire. Your landlord could also be prepared to create a fee plan for again hire, briefly decrease your hire, settle for delayed funds, or in any other case provide you with a plan that works for each of you.

It’s also possible to search for native companies or authorities organizations that supply rent payment assistance. A lot of these help are normally short-term, however it might be sufficient that will help you get your funds as a way to keep away from eviction.

You may obtain a discover to "treatment or stop" for some lease violations. This implies you may have the choice of resolving the violation inside a set variety of days to keep away from transferring out or being evicted. For instance, the treatment could be to instantly pay all of the hire you owe if you happen to're being evicted for failure to pay hire. Your roommate must transfer out if you happen to're subletting to a roommate with out permission.

You'll additionally in all probability should pay the price of any charges the owner incurred to file the discover with the court docket, which is usually required.

At all times receive a written document that you simply've executed so if you happen to repair the issue after receiving a treatment or stop discover throughout the time acknowledged on the discover. You could have to current this as proof in court docket if you happen to're nonetheless summoned to seem.

Landlords are permitted to provide you an "unconditional discover to stop" in some states. This implies you don't have the choice to stay within the property, even if you happen to're in a position to resolve the violation.

Different states enable an unconditional discover to stop for some violations however not for others. For instance, it’s essential to pay the hire you owe and transfer out or be evicted if you happen to obtain an unconditional discover to stop for failure to pay hire. You don't have the choice to pay the hire and keep.

You may obtain an unconditional discover if you happen to're being evicted for nuisance exercise, akin to harassing different tenants, or for criminal activity, akin to making or promoting medicine on the property.

Shifting Out Earlier than Eviction

Your different choice is to easily transfer out and keep away from the court docket eviction course of altogether if you happen to obtain both a treatment and stop discover or an unconditional discover to stop. You could nonetheless pay any hire or charges which can be nonetheless as a result of your landlord, nevertheless. You can be taken to civil court docket or have your debt turned over to a collection agency in any other case if you happen to merely go away however do not pay.

Going to Court docket

Your landlord will start eviction proceedings in opposition to you in court docket if you happen to don't transfer out or resolve the difficulty resulting in your eviction throughout the period of time acknowledged on the discover. You may additionally select to contest the eviction in court docket if you happen to consider you're being evicted unfairly.

You could reply to any authorized summons to seem in court docket, even if you happen to've already moved out of the property or in any other case resolved the difficulty that triggered the eviction to be filed. It’s best to obtain discover from the court docket in case your landlord has canceled or withdrawn the eviction swimsuit, however you must seem if you happen to don't.

The choose will rule in favor of both you or the owner. You'll have to maneuver out inside a timeframe set by the court docket, pay any hire you owe, and repay any authorized charges that the court docket orders you to pay if the choose finds in favor of your landlord.

Defenses to an Eviction Discover

When you’ve got been served with an eviction discover, you’ll have to begin packing your issues and in search of a brand new place to dwell. However first, chances are you’ll wish to look into your accessible defenses. These embrace the next:

  • Improper Discover – The owner should comply with authorized protocol when finishing up an eviction, which incorporates ample discover and correct submitting of the court docket papers.
  • Acceptance of Partial Hire – In case your landlord accepts partial or late hire, she or he usually might not declare a lease violation (and thus provoke the eviction course of) on the premise of the partial or late hire fee.
  • Poor Upkeep of Rental Property – In an effort to declare this protection, the tenant usually should have already given the owner discover of the issue (akin to a non-functioning rest room) and affordable time to repair it.
  • Retaliation – Landlords might not retaliate in opposition to tenants who, for instance, report code violations to the authorities.
  • Constructive Eviction – When a rental property change into uninhabitable and the owner is unresponsive to requests to treatment this, the tenant has successfully been "evicted" by being denied a liveable unit.
  • Honest Housing Act – Your landlord might not evict you on the premise of race, shade, nationwide origin, intercourse, faith, incapacity, or familial standing (akin to having youngsters).

Click on on hyperlink under to study extra in regards to the eviction course of and the rights of the events concerned.

Stage Two: Serving Discover and Summons to Seem in Court docket

If the difficulty shouldn’t be resolved by the desired time, then the owner will file what’s known as an “illegal detainer motion” in opposition to the tenant in eviction court docket, formally asking the court docket to power the tenant to go away the property. Earlier than that occurs, courts should present tenants with the possibility to be heard earlier than a choose or jury, and native legal guidelines specify how discover of the listening to, or summons to seem, should be offered—for instance, in individual versus posted on the door, which member of the family has to obtain the discover, and what the discover should include. Sometimes, this discover should embrace an outline of the difficulty driving the eviction and the date of the listening to. 

Many tenants don’t truly obtain discover and might’t defend themselves in opposition to eviction proceedings they don’t learn about. This was the case for Joseph Gelletich, who in 2019 was evicted from his residence of practically 30 years in Washington, D.C. Gelletich was not conscious he was being evicted, by no means obtained a summons to seem in court docket, missed his listening to, and, because of this, mechanically misplaced his case. He turned homeless for a yr.

Gelletich’s case shouldn’t be unusual. A latest investigation by DCist discovered that two infamous course of servers routinely failed to supply tenants discover of eviction proceedings after which falsified information, resulting in 1000’s of illegal evictions. They delivered discover in individual in fewer than 1 % of circumstances, in comparison with different course of servers within the metropolis, who managed to search out tenants at residence 40 % of the time. Course of servers submit sworn affidavits confirming that discover was actually offered, however a evaluate of their affidavits over a two-month interval discovered discrepancies—akin to signature mismatch, incorrect private info, and geographic impossibility, amongst others—in over 600 circumstances. 

These flaws seemingly would have resulted in dismissal of the case had judges scrutinized the affidavits completely sufficient to detect them. “In apply, Superior Court docket judges who hear eviction circumstances practically at all times take course of servers at their phrase,” the investigation discovered. When judges fail to query affidavits or be certain that notices adjust to procedural necessities, tenants are liable to being evicted in circumstances they don’t even know exist. 

Course of servers receives a commission for every discover served, so taking extra circumstances with out truly serving notices ends in increased compensation for much less work. That apply additionally advantages landlords, who can rapidly safe eviction judgments in opposition to tenants who don’t seem in court docket. 


This text talks in regards to the rights of renters in Maine. Every state has totally different legal guidelines defending renters – this text solely covers the legislation within the state of Maine. In the event you dwell outdoors of Maine and are in search of assist or info, attempt the LSC Legal Aid Finder (link is external) or seek for rights of tenants or renters in your state.