Defenses to Eviction

Receiving a notice of eviction can be a very stressful experience. This is especially true if you were attempting to resolve your differences with your landlord and were not expecting to suddenly receive such a notice. If you feel that you are being evicted without sufficient cause, or if the landlord is violating your civil rights by doing so, there are several ways by which you can defend yourself. This article will discuss some of the most common defenses to eviction so that you can learn what you need to know in order to proceed with your case.

How to Build Your Defense Against Improper Notice of Eviction

One of the most common defenses to eviction is the argument against improper notice. Every state has its own set of requirements for the notice of eviction. This applies with especial force to the method by which you received your notice of eviction. The landlord must provide you with sufficient notice before they file a court action.

If they do not do so, you may have a sufficient defense to overturn the eviction, even if you have not yet paid the money you owe for rent. If the court accepts this defense, the landlord may still move to evict you. However, they will be forced to begin the process all over again from the beginning.

Acceptance of a Partial Rent Payment Might Get You Off the Hook

Sometimes you may be able to get your landlord to accept a partial payment, even while they feel that you are in violation of the terms of your rental agreement. If you can get them to agree to take such a payment, you can use this as a possible defense against eviction. The right of the landlord to evict you during that particular payment period would thus be waived. However, some landlords have already thought of this in advance. Some property owners will insert a clause into the lease requiring you to waive your own rights to use a partial payment as a defense against eviction.

Your Landlord’s Failure to Maintain the Premises is a Good Eviction Defense

One of the most effective defenses to eviction is the failure of your property owner to maintain the premises in good order. To be able to make use of this defense, you will first need to inform the landlord in writing that there is definitely some cause for concern. For example, the entire building may be plagued by faulty or dangerous wiring, or infested with rats or other pests. The notice you give to your landlord must leave them a reasonable amount of time to address the problem and correct it.

If you receive no reply from the landlord, you have the option to do the repairs yourself or hire a professional to do the work on your behalf. You can then deduct the cost of the renovation from your rent. However, some states have enacted strictures on this tactic to the extent that you may not spend more than the cost of one month’s rent on these repairs.

You Can File a Claim Against a Retaliatory Eviction

If the owner of the property takes action to evict you because you may have served notice to the government of various illegal or unethical actions on their part, you can file a claim against a retaliatory eviction. This will be valid if you have first reported the landlord for code violations or a failure to make necessary repairs.

You Can Quit the Property Under the Terms of a Constructive Eviction

Under certain extreme circumstances, you may find it necessary to evict yourself from the property you are currently living in. This will occur when the property you rent is in such poor shape that it is essentially uninhabitable. If you have served notice of these dire conditions to the landlord and received no response, you may make a claim that you have essentially been deprived of the use and possession of this property.

In a sense, you have already been evicted by default due to the inability or unwillingness of the landlord to make the necessary improvements. You may serve notice of such to the landlord that gives them a certain amount of time to make the stated changes. If they do not do so, you may leave the property with no obligation to honor the remainder of the lease agreement.

The Fair Housing Act is Designed to Protect Against Unwarranted Eviction

If you feel that you are being purposely discriminated against because of your race, ethnicity, sex, religion, disability, or pregnancy, you can have recourse to filing a grievance under the Fair Housing Act. This act provides tenants with a measure of protection against unfair eviction and other offenses committed against you in all manner of housing situations, including while renting or leasing a home or apartment.