As a tenant in a rental unit, you have no ownership rights of the property, which means that sooner or later, you will have to move out whether it is because your tenancy has run its course or you are being evicted. It is not uncommon to assume that the only reason that you may get evicted from an apartment is for not keeping up with your monthly rent payments, although this could not be further from the truth. There are several other reasons why you may be at risk of eviction, and here are the main ones to keep in mind.
Why would a landlord kick out good paying tenants? Other than failing to pay rent, you may also get evicted for violating the terms of your lease.
- Having pets when they are prohibited and hosting unapproved occupants.
- Inflicting damage to the rental property.
- Using the property illegally.
- Known safety or health violation that needs to be taken care of as soon as possible.
- The property is being taken off the market.
Getting kicked out of your rental unit by your landlord is nothing out of the ordinary, and there are several reasons why your landlord may choose to do. Here is what you need to know about getting evicted.
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Reasons why you may get evicted even when you pay rent
- Lease violation – When you move into a rental unit, you re typically required to sign a lease agreement and agree to the terms stipulated by the lease. If you go against the terms and conditions of the lease, your landlord has the right to file for eviction after presenting you with the appropriate notice. After the landlord files for an eviction, the court will then determine if the eviction is within the law. Here are some of the common violations to a lease agreement.
- Unauthorized pets – Having a dog or cat in your rental unit when pets are strictly not allowed, or having more pets than the required number could result in your landlord kicking you out of your apartment for violating the terms of the lease.
- Unapproved/extended guests – When you sign a lease, the names of everyone who is meant to move into the apartment should be indicated in the lease agreement. So, for example, if you want to move in with your girlfriend/boyfriend or relative, their names have to be added to the lease. Otherwise, living with unapproved occupants in your rental unit could result in an eviction.
- Subletting without the landlord’s approval – Most lease agreements usually grant a tenant exclusive rights to live in the apartment. This generally means that the landlord cannot rent the unit to a different party, but this condition also applies to the resident. Most leases don’t allow the tenant to sublet their apartment without the approval of their landlord, and doing so could give your landlord a reason to kick you out.
- Improper use – As a tenant in a rental unit, you are allowed to use the unit as you please, as long as you don’t take it too far. If you want to, you can operate a home-based business from your apartment as long it is not too disruptive. For example, you can attend to your students from your apartment if you are a tutor, but a welding shop or car wash will be too disruptive and in violation of the lease and local zoning ordinances. By operating such businesses, you could be creating a liability for your landlord since their property is not zoned for use as a business premise, and it does not meet the required safety codes.
- Complaints – If there have been several complaints filed against you by your neighbors as a result of noise or disturbances from your apartment, you could be evicted especially if you are a repeat offender and your landlord is at risk of being fined by the authorities.
- Causing damage to the property – When it comes to damage to the property, it is important to know the difference between normal wear and tear and real damage. Fingerprint smudges on the walls or scuff marks on the hardwood floor are hardly considered to be damage. However, if you knock out a wall or remodel the kitchen without the consent of the landlord, you could be risking an eviction especially if are not willing to pay for damages.
- Health or safety violations – A landlord could opt to evict you if the property has a known safety or health violation that needs to be remedied. If the risk cannot be handled while the resident is living on the property, the landlord has the right to evict you. For example, if the apartment you live in requires treatment for lead paint hazards, the landlord could evict you on the grounds of health violation. However, before a landlord evicts you in this case, he/she is required to give you notice far in advance of the planned eviction date. Furthermore, the landlord must also provide you with relocation assistance, and the eviction can only take place once you have been relocated.
- Illegal activity – When a tenant is conducting illegal activity in the rental unit, a landlord has all the rights to file for an eviction. When it comes to committing crimes such as drug dealing, the law is less than lenient. A tenant who attempts to distribute narcotics, prescription drugs, or any other illegal drugs can be evicted from a rental property.
- The property is being taken off the rental market – In some cases, a landlord can opt to take a rental property off the market, which means that he/she can file to evict you from the property. The rules and regulations regarding this type of eviction generally vary from one state to another. For example, in California, the landlord is required to plan to take the property off the market for at least 10 years. In addition to this, they must give notification to tenants who are 62 years or older and tenants who have disabilities a year in advance. For all other tenants, a landlord is required to give notice at least 120 days in advance. The landlord should also file a Notice of Intent to Withdraw the rental unit with the Rent Board and is required to pay all the affected tenants a specified amount for relocation. In New Jersey, a property owner/landlord is required to notify of his/her intention to take the property off the market by giving them the Notice to Quit at least 18 months beforehand and cannot withdraw the property until the leases of the tenants have expired.
- The owner plans to move in – If a landlord plans to move into the rental unit that is currently occupied by a tenant, he/she can file for eviction. Additionally, the landlord can also file for eviction if they plan to move a family member into the rental unit. The rules for this type of eviction varies depending on the state. You will often find that a landlord cannot evict you from a rental unit for this reason if you have lived there for over a decade or are disabled. Furthermore, if you have children, a landlord is usually required to wait until the end of the school year before evicting you for this reason.
If you have lived in the apartment for at least a year, a landlord is often required to pay for your relocation costs. Moreover, if the landlord has a comparable unit that is vacant within the same property or in any other property that they own, he/she is required to offer it to you at the current market rate for the unit.
- When your lease expires – If you have a lease with a fixed period, you are typically required to move out when the lease term comes to an end. If you have a month-to-month arrangement, you can live in the rental unit until your landlord issues you a notice to quit. If you fail to move out of the apartment by the end of your tenancy or the notice period and you don’t make arrangements with the landlord to continue living in the unit, your landlord could start the proceedings to have you evicted.
How evictions work
Although the process of eviction may vary from one state to another, there are generally three types of notices of termination you may receive from your landlord if you violate your lease in any way.
Pay rent or quit – A pay rent or quit notice is given to a tenant who fails to pay rent. Such notices give you three to five days to pay the rent or move out of the rental unit.
Cure or quit – This is a notice that is given to a tenant who violates a stipulation of the lease, such as the promise to keep noise levels at a minimum or a no-pets clause. Typically, the landlord will allow you a specific amount of time to rectify the violation.
Unconditional quit – An unconditional quit notice is the most severe of all. It requires a resident to vacate the property with no chance to rectify a lease violation or pay the rent. In most states, an unconditional quit can only be issued if you have:
- Violated a lease term or condition repeatedly.
- Turned in your rent payment late on more than one occasion.
- Caused serious damage to the property
- Engaged in drug dealing or any other serious illegal activity on the property.
In some cases, even if you have not gone against the terms and conditions of our lease and have paid your rent on time, your landlord can probably still ask you to move out of the rental as long as the landlord gives you the appropriate notice.
In a month-to-month tenancy, you can receive a notice from your landlord asking you to vacate the unit within 30 days. The notice doesn’t have to specify the landlord’s reason for asking you to leave the property, although it has to meet specific state laws. Furthermore, the notice shouldn’t terminate the tenancy up until the last day for which the rent has been paid. For example, if you pay your rent all through the end of the month, the notice period cannot come to an end before the month is over. The notice should also give you a full 30 days.
In cities where the rent control stipulations go beyond the state laws, a landlord is usually required to provide a legal reason for termination, leaving no allowance for termination without cause.
Instances when evictions can be unlawful
In some cases, a landlord can evict a tenant without a legitimate cause. This allows the tenant to contest the eviction and take legal action against the landlord. Here are some of the cases where a landlord cannot evict you.
Retaliatory eviction – You cannot be evicted by your landlord for reporting their failure to fulfill responsibilities as a landlord. For example, if there is a mold problem in the apartment which the landlord has not taken action to fix and you report it to the health department, your landlord cannot evict you. This is referred to as retaliatory eviction, which is illegal.
Eviction as a result of discrimination – A landlord cannot evict you because of your race, disability, color, national origin, religion, or familial status.
Protected tenant – Some states may allow a certain group of tenants to be categorized as protected tenants. For example, if a tenant is above a certain age and has lived at a property for a given number of years, the tenant cannot be evicted from the rental unit even for a legitimate reason.
Eviction for withholding rent until a health or safety issue has been fixed
Your landlord cannot evict you for withholding rent until a health or safety issue in your rental unit has been rectified.
Even if you pay your rent in a timely manner, your landlord can still evict you from your rental unit for several other reasons such as violating the terms of your lease, causing damage to the property, or when the owner plans to move into your apartment. However, the landlord has to send the appropriate notice of termination, and he/she cannot evict you unlawfully. All in all, it is important to do as much research as possible on evictions to ensure your landlord is within the law when he/she asks you to move out unexpectedly.