By Stephanie Reid, Avvo attorney and NakedLaw contributor
There it is: the dreaded eviction notice, taped not-so-subtly across the front door of your home. Getting an eviction notice may seem like the end of the world at first, but renters do have tenant rights that can help resolve the issue or change the landlord’s decision.
Unfortunately, not every eviction is avoidable: Landlords have rights, too, and obligations to uphold the value of the property and the safety of all other tenants.
Here’s a look at what’s legal and what’s not when it comes to the eviction process.
When you first moved in, you (hopefully) signed a lease agreement with the landlord. At a minimum, the lease should contain the payment terms and effective lease dates. Most likely, it also contains a broad list of prohibited acts that could lead to an eviction, such as:
Your agreement may also include opportunities to correct the problems if they come up.
Your landlord cannot evict you just because he “feels like it.” Your lease is a binding legal document, and it’s only legal to evict you if you have broken the terms of the agreement.
Discrimination is forbidden in the housing industry, and the Fair Housing Act strictly forbids any housing decision based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability or the presence of children. If you believe that discrimination has anything to do with why you’re being evicted, you should report the landlord to your state’s housing department immediately.
A landlord also cannot evict a tenant, or refuse to rent to them in the first place, based on a tenant’s disability or reliance upon a service animal — even if the property has a no-pets policy. A landlord must agree to make reasonable accommodations for the renter, including a wheelchair accessible housing unit or common areas designed to accommodate disabilities.
It’s not impossible to remedy the problem or appeal an illegal eviction. In most cases, there is a way to fix the issue and avoid losing your housing.
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