Good Fences And Not So Good Neighbors: Property Law 101

Good Fences And Not So Good Neighbors: Property Law 101

Wrongful Eviction: Should You Hire A Lawyer?

by Hunter Moore

Being evicted is a stressful situation, even if you are in the right. When you are being wrongfully evicted, knowing your rights will help you know if your only alternative is to hire an attorney.

What Is a Wrongful Eviction?

Each state has its own set of laws for eviction, but generally, a landlord can only evict you if you violate some part of your lease or verbal agreement. For example, if you fail to pay your rent on time, you irreparably damage the property or you have had numerous complaints from neighbors about your behavior your landlord may be able to evict you.

What Types of Evictions Can You Fight in Court?

Unscrupulous landlords may try to get around the law to get you out of your home, but legally, there are specific things they can and cannot do.

  • Eviction without due process - There is a legal procedure for eviction. Your landlord has to follow all the steps. For example, if he does not give you a 3-day written notice stating what you have done to void your contract, he cannot proceed with eviction. The notice must be delivered in person or mailed. Some states allow it to be posted on your front door.
  • Making Your Property Unlivable - A landlord is not allowed to do anything to force you out without due legal process, such as cutting off your utilities, heat or water. Neither is he allowed to change your locks or remove your belongings from your home without a court order.
  • Harassment - Your landlord cannot deny you your privacy by showing up at your home without notice. He cannot verbally or physically abuse you, or otherwise cause you emotional distress or bodily harm. He cannot harass you by mail, email, or online, nor can he have anyone else do these things to you. If harassment is a problem, you should file a police report so you will have a record for your defense.
  • Failure to Make Repairs - Your landlord is legally responsible for keeping your home in livable  condition. He must maintain certain systems in good working order. If he fails to make repairs in a timely manner, you can send him a notice to withhold rent until such repairs are made. This must be sent certified mail, return receipt. You can also call your local code enforcement agency if there are code violations. He can try to evict you for non-payment of rent, but your notice and any reports from code enforcement will be your defense. Check your local laws to see how far in advance of the rent due date you must send the notice.
  • Retribution - Your landlord is not allowed to evict or harass you in retribution for reporting him to any agency or government authority. If you feel your landlord is practicing retribution, call a lawyer immediately.

If any of these conditions exist and you are faced with a wrongful eviction, it is a good idea to speak with an attorney experienced in real estate law. If you cannot afford an attorney, most local legal aid services will defend you against a wrongful eviction. Eviction laws vary from state to state and can be complicated, so it is not a good idea to try to defend yourself against an unscrupulous landlord.  For more information, contact a professional like those at Bangs McCullen Butler Foye & Simmons LLP.


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Good Fences And Not So Good Neighbors: Property Law 101

If you've recently moved into a new house and your neighbors are claiming you've infringed on their property line with your new fence, you may not know what to do. Sure, the idea of contacting a lawyer can be intimidating, but if your neighbors are insistent that you're on their property and you can't prove otherwise, an attorney may be the best choice. I created this site to help people just like you understand the laws surrounding property boundaries, real estate claims, and similar issues. I hope that the information here will give you some clarity as to whether or not you need to consult an attorney to protect your interests.