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How Do I Avoid Being Evicted?

A notice of eviction posted on an apartment door.
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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 06 August 2014
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The steps you may take to avoid being evicted for non-payment of rent depend on the jurisdiction in which you live. In most places, paying past-due rent is the most reliable way to put an end to eviction proceedings. The best time to pay is usually before your landlord officially starts the eviction process. You may still have a chance to pay your past-due rent or make payment arrangements right up until the point when a judge or magistrate decides in your landlord’s favor. If you are unable to put a stop to eviction proceedings, however, many jurisdictions will allow you a reasonable amount of time to vacate the premises.

One of the most reliable ways to avoid being evicted is to pay your landlord the rent you owe. If you've fallen behind and received a letter that says your landlord plans to start eviction proceedings, it’s probably not too late. If you can borrow the money to catch up on your rent, hold a yard sale, or even take on some odd jobs, you may avoid being evicted. In some cases, landlords are even willing to work out payment arrangements for past-due rent. If you are offered a payment arrangement, you may do well to get a copy of the details in writing and signed by your landlord, however; verbal agreements can be hard to prove in court.

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It's important to read the eviction notice you receive carefully when you're trying to avoid eviction. Many people receive eviction notices and think they are required to move out right away. Often, however, these notices give the tenants days to pay their rent before the landlord will even file for eviction or take other legal steps to evict the tenants. You may do well to take note of the date on which your landlord says he will proceed and pay your rent before that date.

If you cannot pay your rent in the time period your landlord has allowed, your case may end up in court. If you want to avoid being evicted, it is critical that you show up for court. If you fail to show up, a judge may rule in your landlord’s favor based solely on your absence; this is referred to as a default judgment. In such a case, your landlord may be permitted to proceed with evicting you, but you will probably still owe the landlord for past-due rent. In many jurisdictions, tenants who lose their cases are liable for court costs as well.

Once a court date is set for eviction, you may worry that you have no way left to avoid being evicted. In most jurisdictions, however, it is still possible to stop eviction at this point. If you show up for court with the past-due amount you owe the landlord, you may have the opportunity to pay the landlord and avoid eviction. Some landlords may be willing to negotiate payment arrangements at this juncture as well. In general, however, you will have a better chance to avoid being evicted if you arrive in court prepared to pay the entire past-due amount.

If you've done everything you can to avoid being evicted, but the legal eviction process is moving forward anyway, you will likely have to move. Many jurisdictions will allow you additional time to vacate the rental unit after your court date. In some jurisdictions, you will be given a day or two while others may allow three weeks or more.

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