First off, it is not the end of the world...so relax. As a renter there are some things you must know to insure you are not being duped.
1) Believe it or not, even if you ARE behind on our rental payments your landlord cannot kick you out on the spot.
In order to terminate your tenancy, your landlord must receive approval from a court first. Your landlord must prove to the court that you have directly violated one or more of the terms listed in your initial rental agreement that justifies you being evicted. A verbal notice is simply not enough; legally your landlord is bound by law to give you a written notice of your eviction in a professional way and form. If your landlord does so accordingly than you must move out promptly unless you have made attempts to correct your ways. (Such as paying your rent or moving your cat to grandma's house) If you do not move out immediately after being served with an official eviction notice than your landlord may file a lawsuit against you often referred to as an unlawful detainer.
The rules and regulations for terminating a tenancy and serving eviction notices by a landlord vary from state to state. Your landlord must follow the detailed procedures for doing so to a "T" or else their argument will not be held up in court.
2) A variety of termination notices may be served to you prior to an official eviction; however in general they will fall under 1 of the 3 following categories.
- Pay Rent Notices - indicate that you have not paid the rent and allow a window for redemption of usually 3-5 days in most states before being forced to move out
- Cure Notices - indicate that you have violated one of the terms in your rental agreement and once again you are allowed a few days to correct the situation
- Unconditional Quit Notices - indicate that you must leave the premises without the opportunity of redeeming yourself.
Usually these notices are most severe and are for excessive, disruptive, illegal, or recurrent behavior that violates the terms of your rental agreement.
* You are allowed to move out voluntarily if you choose not to comply with the requests of your notice. Your landlord cannot move your personal things his/herself- instead the court judgment must pass through the local law enforcement office. From here you will be notified by the law enforcement that an officer will escort you off the premises on a indicated date.
3) Be aware. Your landlord can kick you at any time without just cause- the trick is that they must give you a longer notice period such as a 30-Day Notice to Vacate or 60-Day Notice to Vacate. Such notices will be permitted in most states without the landlord giving a reason for terminating your tenancy. But once again depending on the state the notice period may be longer or shorter for an eviction without cause.
4) There is still hope. Rent control cities are exceptions to the rule. In such cities, tenants are in a way protected from eviction without cause by laws known as "just cause eviction protection." Under these laws landlords are required to provide a reason for termination with a legally recognized defense. (Even entire states may be covered by eviction protection laws. ( i.e. New Jersey and New Hampshire).
5) If Brought into court - Ways of Beating THE MAN using the rules of the system:
- Incomplete or faulty paperwork prior to the eviction lawsuit
- Proof of illegal behavior performed by the landlord (i.e. landlord does not uphold his/her end of the deal- poor property maintenance)
- Improper eviction notice or improperly received eviction notice are also grounds of striking an unlawful detainer. You must have had sufficient time to address the situation at hand. If this passes your landlord must resubmit the paperwork following all rules and regulation for eviction set by the state.
- Acceptance of partial rent. If a landlord accepts partial payment from a tenant he/she recently served an eviction to, then the right for the landlord to evict the tenant is suddenly null and void, unless the landlord gets the tenant to sign a waiver. The waiver does not allow the tenant to any rights for complaint in the partial acceptance of rent payment by the landlord.
- Retaliatory Eviction - this is a viable defense for an eviction action in which the landlord's reason for termination of tenancy is because of tenant activism (i.e. informing government agencies of direct code violations)
- Constructive Eviction - if rental property is in poor condition and ill fit for residency than the tenant is not in the wrong and not obligated to pay the rent if the landlord refuses to fix the condition of the rental property.
- Fair Housing Act of 1968- Protects tenants from eviction on the basis of discrimination by the landlord concerning race, sex, religion, disability, personal matters
All in all-play fair and don't let it get you down.