Your monthly rent is likely the biggest bill you face each month. Particularly if you live in a city with a high cost of living, rent can eat up over 30 percent of your income. Between student loans, car payments, and groceries, it’s easy to fall behind on your rent.
If you’ve missed payments and your landlord has initiated the eviction process, you’re not alone: A 2016 report from Redfin found that approximately 2.7 million renters in the United States faced eviction in 2015.
You can recover from eviction and, in some cases, even fix the situation and get back in good standing with your landlord. Here’s how.
What happens when you get evicted
Coming home to an eviction notice on your door can be a heartbreaking and terrifying experience. But before you panic about not having a roof over your head, know that the legal eviction process can take weeks. Receiving a notice does not mean you will be homeless overnight.
Shaolaine Loving, an attorney who has worked many cases involving landlord-tenant law, says it’s important to research how the eviction process works in your state.
“Know your state’s eviction laws,” Loving said. “Every state can have different laws in terms of timelines and procedures tenants have to follow to preserve their rights. Fortunately, a lot of information is now available online.
“Local legal aid clinics may offer free classes or seminars on the topic,” she continued, “or courts may publish information, so try to check out all free resources.”
Receiving an eviction notice
It doesn’t matter if you owe $1,000 or $10 to your landlord. If you owe any money at all after the due date, you can be evicted. In general, if you fall behind on your rent, your landlord will give you a notice to pay your balance or vacate the premises within a set period. The length of the notice can vary from state to state, but it can be as short as three days.
“Depending on your state’s laws, if you receive an eviction notice, you might have to immediately act within the prescribed timeframe to contest the eviction in court,” said Loving. “It’s possible that your landlord may have to issue a subsequent notice before taking further action, however.”
That notice doesn’t mean you have to be out of the apartment within that period; it just means you have a couple of days to pay your balance in full. If you fail to do so, your landlord can pursue a court order to evict you. They cannot force you out of your home until they get a court order.
Going to court
You can’t stop your landlord from getting a court order unless you pay the rent in full. To dispute your landlord’s actions, you have to wait to receive the court order. Then, you can choose to fight the eviction in court.
“You can […] seek to set aside an eviction order if you believe the court wrongfully granted it,” said Loving.
In some cases, the court might find that the landlord cannot lawfully evict you. Depending on your state, the following defenses could help you stay in your home:
- You paid your rent in full, but your landlord says you didn’t.
- You offered to pay rent, but your landlord wouldn’t accept payment.
- You gave your landlord a partial payment.
- The rental unit had an issue with essential services, such as a lack of heat or running water, and the landlord didn’t fix it.
If you contest the eviction and lose, you could have just days left to move. If you’re still in the home after that time, the landlord can escalate the situation to the local police. Depending on where you live, you could be forced out right away or given 48 hours or more to move.
How to handle the eviction process
By understanding how the process works, you can come up with a plan. If you’re facing an eviction, you have three options to rectify the situation.
1. Pay in full or negotiate a payment plan
If you’d like to stay in the home, you can end the eviction process by paying the outstanding balance in full. If that sounds impossible, you might be able to gather the money you need by selling toys, clothes, or furniture, taking on extra hours at work, or working a side hustle.
You may even consider asking family and friends for help. It might feel embarrassing, but losing a little pride to stay in a safe home could be worth it.
If you’re going through a temporary financial setback, such as expensive car repairs or unexpected medical bills, you can try to negotiate a payment plan with your landlord. Offer to pay back what you owe spread out over several weeks; they might be willing to let you stay and end the eviction notice.
If you and the landlord agree to a payment plan, make sure you get the terms of the plan in writing. That way, if the landlord changes their mind and continues the eviction process, you have proof that you came to an agreement if you go to court.
2. Consider hiring an attorney
If you believe your landlord is wrongfully evicting you, hiring an attorney who specializes in tenant law can help contest the court order — but it’s not essential.
“Hiring an attorney is not necessary if you are comfortable navigating the court system solo,” said Loving. “However, some people feel more comfortable having an attorney represent them to ensure all required legal steps are followed and that their arguments are ideally crafted and heard.
“Also,” she added, “some people have never been to court and are nervous about the process, so would rather have someone else speak for them.”
If you think hiring a lawyer is impossible with your financial situation, there are resources available to help you. There are many organizations and law firms that offer free or heavily discounted legal aid.
If you don’t know where to start, use LawHelp’s database to find a list of legal assistance programs near you.
3. Seek financial assistance
If you simply cannot afford your rent, there are several organizations that might help you when you’ve fallen on tough times. These resources are intended to keep low- and middle-income families in their homes during a financial emergency.
In some cases, they’ll provide one-time aid in the form of a check for your landlord. If you’re facing just a temporary setback and expect to be back on your feet shortly, that might be the best option. If it’s a more long-term situation, the organization might provide financial assistance and other aid, such as job training or free money management classes.
RentAssistance has a list of government programs, nonprofit organizations, and religious institutions offering financial assistance in your area.
Keeping a roof over your head
Having shelter for you and your family is a basic necessity. If you’ve fallen behind on your rent payments and are facing eviction, there are ways to repair the situation. By taking quick action and asking for help when needed throughout the eviction process, you might be able to find a way to stay in your home.
If you’re having trouble making ends meet and need assistance to get other essentials like food or utilities, these charitable resources can help get you back on your feet.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2019!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
|Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.50% APR (with Auto Pay) to 7.82% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.43% APR (with Auto Pay) to 7.21% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of April 17, 2019, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 04/17/2019. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.
© 2018 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the fixed rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular fixed interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the variable rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular variable interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
All credit products are subject to credit approval.
Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.45% effective May 10, 2019.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|2.43% – 7.21%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.43% – 6.65%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.43% – 6.59%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.44% – 6.87%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.46% – 7.08%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.93% – 9.67%6||Undergrad & Graduate|