5 Useful Tips to Help Renters Avoid Eviction

Serving Clients Throughout Sonoma, Mendocino, Lake, and Napa Counties

Are you facing a dispute with your landlord? These types of conflicts can quickly get out of hand, so it’s important to understand your legal rights and responsibilities as a tenant in California. Take a look at these tips to avoid eviction and ensure you’re complying with the law. After all, when your place of residence is at stake, it’s best not to take any chances.

1) Respond to the eviction notice

A landlord must follow the right procedures to evict a tenant in California. The first step is to give the tenant three-day notice explaining the possibility of eviction, the terms that have been broken, and steps the tenant must take to correct the situation. As a tenant, you will have three days to comply or move out of the rental unit. If the landlord’s requests are legal, you should do your best to meet them as soon as possible. Make sure you keep evidence, like a receipt of a rent payment, to prevent any confusion down the road.

2) Find more time

If you don’t meet the landlord’s requirements on time, they can file for an unlawful detainer to evict you. They must also serve you with a Summons and Complaint. If the service is not performed according to the law, you can file a motion to quash, which will require your landlord to re-serve the document. If you have reason to question the legality of your landlord’s eviction notice or service, you can file a demurrer. This could make your landlord restart the eviction process. Neither of these options will prevent eviction, but they can delay the case for a few days or a few weeks, giving you more time to meet the landlord’s demands or prepare a case.

3) Defense: Lack of maintenance

Once the unlawful detainer (or eviction lawsuit) has been served correctly, you’ll have to file an Answer to the unlawful detainer. This involves responding to your landlord’s claims and providing a defense. If your reason for withholding rent involves a lack of maintenance in the rental unit, you may have a viable defense against eviction. Your landlord is legally required to follow a set of minimum standards to maintain your unit—like weatherproofing your windows and doors. If your landlord falls short of these standards, make sure you withhold your rent in compliance with the law.

4) Defense: Discrimination

If you end up with an eviction lawsuit, you might be able to make a defense of discrimination. According to the Fair Housing act, your landlord cannot discriminate against tenants based on race, religion, gender, disability, and similar factors. Additionally, California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act protects against gender identity, sexual orientation, marital status, medical condition, and age discrimination, among others. Your landlord may not legally use any of these characteristics as a basis for your eviction.

5) Hire an attorney

If you find yourself in special circumstances, or if you want to make sure you’re in full compliance with the law, an attorney will be especially useful in your eviction case. While it’s not required for the process, having a lawyer can ensure your landlord is following the proper procedures and help you prepare the best possible defense.

Tenant and landlord disputes can be complicated, especially when it comes to an eviction lawsuit, but you don’t have to do it alone. Contact Attorney James Carroll of the Carroll Law Office to defend your legal rights in a rental dispute. We will walk you through the whole process and make sure your bases are covered.

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