How To Evict a Tenant: 3 Ways Landlords Can Get the Legal Advice They Need
The eviction process is fraught with legal pitfalls. If a landlord evicts a tenant without adequate cause or fails to follow the state's eviction procedure, they could face a lawsuit. That's why it's important for landlords to seek legal advice about how to evict a tenant the right way. While hiring an attorney may be prohibitively expensive for some, it beats losing to your tenant in court. Before you consider a lawyer's legal services, informational resources are available to help get you started.
Free Online Resources
Before taking action, you should familiarize yourself with your state's eviction procedures. Since eviction processes can differ greatly from state to state, knowing your state's landlord-tenant laws is necessary. You can usually find an outline of the procedure on the website of your:
- State consumer affairs department
- State or local housing agency
- Local landlord-tenant associations
The California courts website, for example, provides a detailed, step-by-step overview of how to evict a tenant in California. Most such resources will include self-help information about:
- Links to court forms
- Serving lawsuit papers
- What happens at trial
- What to do after the suit
It's important that you closely follow your state's procedure. Failure to comply with all requirements can result in penalties and expose you to civil liability.
Legal Aid and Free Consultations
You may have researched your state's eviction policies but still have more questions. Common landlord and tenant issues lend themselves to legal assistance on:
- Grounds for eviction and different types of eviction notices
- Rent payments, late fees, and security deposits
- Fair housing discrimination issues and tenant rights (including fair housing laws)
- Lease agreement interpretations
- Real estate laws, including state laws on tenancy that protect renters
If you can't afford to hire a private attorney, you may be eligible to receive legal aid. Clinics and other legal aid services offer free or discounted legal help to those who can't afford to hire a legal professional.
You'll likely have to prove that you cannot pay for an attorney to qualify. Contact your state or local housing agency for legal aid services and clinics in your area specializing in landlord-tenant disputes and other housing issues. Here are some helpful links to legal information that can point you in the right direction:
- Small claims court resources (note that not all states will hear landlord-tenant or eviction issues in small claims court)
- Rental assistance page on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) website
- Rental agreement issues
- Frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding rental properties
You may want to consult with a legal professional but still worry about attorney's fees. Finding the right lawyer can be an expensive and time-consuming process. You can cut down on the expense by seeking out lawyers who offer free consultations. With a free consultation, your initial visit to an attorney will be free. Of course, once you decide on a lawyer, you'll have to pay for any subsequent visits.
Go With a Private Attorney
Sometimes, a legal issue is too complicated to resolve using online legal resources alone. An experienced local landlord-tenant lawyer can help you or your property manager take legal action immediately. With a lawyer's help, you can better understand how local laws affect your legal rights. If you're a property owner experiencing issues with your rental unit, an attorney referral can save you money in the long run.
You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.