Facing eviction

You’ve tried everything you can think of to avoid being evicted, but the writing is on the wall. Read the following information on how evictions work.

**Begin planning now for how you’ll come up with the money to pay a new security deposit. Being evicted means that you won’t get your deposit back from your landlord, and your new landlord may require a substantially larger deposit due to your rental history.

Receiving a Warning:

Before an eviction can begin, your landlord sends you either a notice to pay or vacate or a notice to vacate. If you receive the first type of notice, your landlord is giving you an opportunity to avoid an eviction by paying what you owe. If you receive the second type of notice, your landlord is telling he simply wants you out. The first notice will indicate the date by which you and all your belongings must be out if you can’t come up with the money. The second notice tells you when you must be out.

Paying what you Owe:

A good response to imminent eviction is to pay your landlord what you owe by the due date. Not only do you avoid being evicted, but you also buy yourself time to either move out or pursue another one of your options.

Moving out by the Vacate Date:

Moving out won’t let you off the hook for your past-due rent or for any fees your landlord may be entitled to collect, such as late fees and bounced check fees. In addition, you lose your security deposit.

If your security deposit is not large enough to cover everything you owe, your landlord may be entitled to ask you to make up the difference. If so, talk to your landlord about whether you can pay the difference in instalments. If not, unless you can figure out a way to come up with the money, your landlord may turn your debt over to a debt collector or even sue you for it, especially if the amount you owe is substantial.

Disputing the Amount Your Landlord Says you Owe:

If you disagree with the amount of money that the warning notice says you must pay in order to avoid being evicted, talk to your landlord and write a letter stating how much you think you really owe. Attach the letter to any other documentation that will back up your argument. Make a copy for your personal files and send your landlord the letter via certified mail. Request a return receipt so you know when he/she has received the letter.

Getting a Summons from the Court:

If the eviction process moves forward, your landlord files a complaint with your local small claims court. The complaint will state why he/she thinks you should be evicted.

After the complaint is filed, an eviction hearing is scheduled. The court sends you a summons (which is usually served by a constable) officially notifying you that your eviction has begun.

At DebtBusters we have our own in-house legal department that can assist you.

Depending on the facts of the situation, the attorney may advise you to do one of the following:

  • Fight the eviction. Tell the judge why you should not have to move out or why your landlord should give you more time to catch up on your rent. The judge may sympathise with your situation and ask your landlord to try work something out so you can stay put or at least give you enough time to find something else to rent.
  • Settle with your landlord. Your landlord may agree to drop his lawsuit if you agree to do certain things by a set date, such as pay all the past-due rent that you owe and move out. Get the terms and conditions of any agreement in writing.
  • Do nothing. If you do not respond to the court summons and you don’t show up in court on the trial date, the court will probably award your landlord a default judgement against you. That means that the landlord gets the right to make you move out by the date set by the judge.

Being removed from your home:

If your landlord wins the lawsuit, you will probably receive a court notice telling you the date by which you must be out of your home. The deadline probably won’t be very long after the judge issues his decision.

If you don’t have a place to move out to yet, find one immediately. In the meantime, ask your attorney whether he/she thinks you have any chance of getting the eviction delayed or cancelled.

If the eviction moves forward and your belongings are still in the home on the date you are supposed to be gone, a local constable or sheriff of the court will come to your home, ask you to leave and put your belongings into storage.

When your belongings are in storage, you have to contact the moving and storage company and make arrangements to reimburse it for its moving and storage costs. Do so quickly: After about 30 days, the storage company will begin selling your things

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