Eviction proceedings can be severely stressful, frustrating, and sometimes patently unlawful. It is important for a tenant faced with eviction proceedings to know his or her rights and responsibilities in order to take the right action. There may be several ways to stop eviction proceedings based on local law and the individual circumstances.
The first step in eviction proceedings is a notice of eviction. This is typically served at the residence and will indicate the reason for eviction and the move-out date. Common reasons for eviction include failure to pay rent, damage or misuse of property, or the occurrence of crime on the property. From this point, a tenant must act quickly to stop eviction proceedings.
In many cases, eviction serves as a serious threat to correct behavior or bring accounts up to date. Many landlords do not want to have to go through the process of eviction and then the long ordeal of finding new tenants; they may stop eviction proceedings if a deal can be reached. If possible, talk with the landlord about the situation and try to work out an agreement. If a serious emergency has left a tenant temporarily cash-strapped, be honest with the landlord and offer to pay interest on the late rent. If a tenant has caused property damage or violated a lease clause, try to fix the problem rather than agree to the eviction. As a precaution, get all agreements in writing and send an email summarizing any phone conversations so as to establish a written record.
If the landlord is attempting to evict a tenant unlawfully, get legal advice immediately. Landlord/tenant laws vary extensively from region to region, and an expert may be needed just to let a tenant know if the procedure is unlawful and worthy of a court battle. Consult local or court-run legal aid societies for low cost or free advice and references to low cost lawyers. Try to read up on all local laws that may be involved, and consider visiting a library or bookstore for reference material on landlord/tenant laws in the region.
If discussion is impossible and the tenant has mitigating reasons for avoiding eviction, a court case can stop eviction proceedings. Usually, a tenant can file a lawsuit against the landlord, or can wait for the term of eviction to expire and respond to a landlord's legal complaint. If going to court becomes the only option, it is vital to maintain accurate documentation on all agreements and conversations with the landlord as well as provide other evidence for the judge. If a tenant is withholding rent because an apartment is uninhabitable due to ill repair, provide photographic evidence. If a landlord has refused to provide adequate security measures, get police reports about crime in the neighborhood or bring witnesses from the property.
Ultimately, a judge may decide in favor of either the landlord or the tenant. While doing everything legally possible to stop eviction proceedings, it is important to consider future plans should the judgment go for the landlord. Contact friends or local assistance organizations to arrange temporary shelter in case of eviction, and consider scouting out new properties during the legal proceedings.