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How to Avoid an Eviction

Your rent is due–but you’ve had a difficult month financially plus you’re upset because your landlord hasn’t fixed your refrigerator in weeks. The two of you have been fighting like cats and dogs and it seems like you’re stuck in a no-win situation and facing eviction. What can you do to avoid it?

First of all, DO NOT, whatever you do, listen to anyone who says you can withhold the rent because the landlord hasn’t fixed that old, leaky fridge. You do have rights here; it’s hard to know what they are though when you’re up against the clock.

Try to understand, the landlord sometimes becomes the middleman between the upset tenant and the (sometimes) slow-to-reply-property owner or depending on the issue, scheduling a repair man can take longer than expected. Nobody wants to fight over repairs and definately doesn’t want to deal with an eviction.

As frustrating as it may be and as tempting as it is to withhold rent and yell and scream at the person on the other end of the phone, the best way to solve a problem is good communication. Write down everything you feel is wrong, take pictures and send all your requests by email to the appropriate person. Then follow up with a phone call a few days later. Try your best to be patient and in the meantime, do everything by the book, meaning pay your rent on time, don’t break any rules in your lease agreement, etc.

When a tenant feels they are in the right and have been wronged, sometimes they may jump to filing a small claims court case against the landlord or property owner. While this is the right of the tenant to do so, it can be costly and time consuming. Remember, nobody wants to deal with an eviction. A professional property management company knows the laws between tenant and landlord disputes whereas a DIY (do-it-yourself) landlord may not know his or your rights –because the laws are tricky.

For example, if you do choose to file in small claims court, you still pay the rent owed–You typically will have to escrow the rent – put it into a special account, perhaps a court account – with proper notice to the landlord of the escrow and the defect that justifies the rent escrow.

Professional property managers know and understand the laws between tenants and landlords. They know what they are responsible for and the consequences therein. That is just one advantage to renting from a professional property management company versus a private landlord.

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