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Tenant Eviction

If your landlord files an eviction case in court and has no reason for wanting to evict you (other than just wanting to rent to someone else) or is evicting you for nonpayment of rent, you still may be able to prevent the eviction. How? You may have a defense that will allow you to stay in your apartment. For example, if any of the following circumstances occurred, you may be able to prevent the eviction:

  • Your landlord did not properly file the eviction case.
  • You have bad conditions in your apartment that your landlord knows or should know about, but refused to fix.
  • Your landlord is discriminating against you.
  • Your landlord is retaliating against you for trying to enforce your rights.
  • Your landlord violated the security deposit law.
  • Your landlord interfered with your utilities or your right to use the house.

If you can prove any of the above, you may be able to win the eviction and stay in your apartment. In addition, if you raise claims against your landlord, and the judge awards money on those claims, that is a defense. For example, if your landlord did not pay you interest on your security deposit, the court could decide that the landlord owes you money. If the amount the landlord owes you is more than or equal to any rent you owe, you will win the eviction case.

Be sure to file with the court an Answer to your landlord's Summons and Complaint (the Complaint is the piece of paper you get telling you that your landlord is starting the court process to evict you). The Answer is your opportunity to tell the court your side of the story. Be very specific in your Answer about the reason you should not be evicted.

You also have a right to ask the landlord for information to help you prepare for court. This is called Discovery. If you ask for Discovery, your eviction hearing will automatically be postponed two weeks.

Remember to file these documents on time. The Answer date is the Monday after the entry date, which may be listed on your Summons and Complaint. If the Answer date is not clear from the Summons and Complaint, contact the court and ask them by what date your Answer needs to be filed.

Used with Permission of Neighborhood Legal Services, Inc.

This information is general legal information that may or may not pertain to your particular circumstance. It does not substitute for a consultation with an attorney regarding your specific situation.

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For more information or to discuss legal concerns please contact Partners Employee Assistance Program at 1-866-724-4EAP.

In case of emergency, please call 911 or your local hospital emergency service.

This content was last modified on: 08/25/2008

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