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Knowing Your Rights as a Tenant

Updated on December 15, 2016
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Tips You Need to Know Prior to Eviction

What do you do when a Landlord threatens to evict you? Find out the reason for the threat, first but know that it is just a threat. Try to see if it can be worked out, or if there was anything done wrong on your part. If you know your rights and have been doing everything that you are supposed to be doing, then you will be alright. Keep in mind even if you are on the right path, they can really put you through the ringer because many of times, some landlords are hoping you don’t know your rights as a tenant. I will share 5 tips that may help you in the long run.

1. READ YOUR LEASE

Before anything, read your lease! It has your rights as a tenant and rights of the Landlord. Most times when the Landlord wants you out, they will show you their rights and ignore yours. It is best to know your lease from top to bottom because if the Landlord says something that you would have to do, pay, or if they do anything that does not seem right, your lease would be able to tell you and then you can fight it, if need be.

2. KEEP YOUR RECEIPTS

Many of us tend to get in a bind from time to time when it comes to paying the rent on time. Let’s face it, life happens, but even in these times, you must have a backup plan. If you have read your lease, it can provide you with information that will let you know of any grace periods and how much the late fee will be. My advice is to pay within that time along with the late fee. Paying separately only makes it worse because if it is passed the grace period, that can be considered as breaking the lease. Make sure you get a receipt for both, paying your rent and paying the late fee. A rule of thumb is to NEVER pay your rent in cash; it leaves no trail. Always make sure you are either paying with a money order or check, if it is allowed. This will cover you if for any reason you need proof.

3. GET A COPY OF THE LEDGER

Every 6 months you should get a copy of your ledger from the landlord, while still creating your own one for yourself as just in case purposes because no matter how nice a landlord can be, their main purpose is money. If you are in Section 8, they may try many tactics to get you out because they want to raise the rent. In order to do that, they either have to take several steps and actions on theirs, the Housing Authorities, and your part. A simpler way for them is to try to force you out is by threatening eviction. I will talk about that further in the article. In the meantime, keep all your paperwork organized in a safe place to go back to when you need it.

4. IF YOU GET A “NOTICE TO QUIT”

This memo is not an end all to your life; this can be a tactic on the Landlord’s side to scare you and to follow the rules of the lease on their end. Other times, it can be just a way to remind you that your rent is due if you are past the 1st due date and to let you know of the grace period time you have to get it in. Advising you that if for any reason you do not make your rent within that time, these other factors can happen like taking you to court.

It also helps to call or speak to the Landlord to maybe work something out. If you have been a good tenant and you don’t cause problems, and you usually pay your rent on time, they may work something out with you. You never know until you ask, right? Not all property owners are slumlords some are just making sure they do right on their parts because there are some bad tenants out there, too.

5. SEEK ASSISTANCE

If you are past the point and the threats are still coming, do not be scared be prepared. Many programs can help you. Seek your city’s program for getting help to pay your rent; in Philadelphia, many programs are available. Here is a site I found that may be useful in providing various resources: http://www.needhelppayingbills.com/html/philadelphia_rental_assistance.html. For legal help, you may look into getting legal aid for low-income that charges by the income you make, which can go as low as zero. https://philalegal.org/. TURN is one of the major places you should go to first. It stands for Tenant Union Representative Network: http:/www.ourturn.net/. It is a one-stop shop for legal and tenant rights/assistance. You can find out your rights as a tenant while getting counseling and referrals for the steps you may have to take to get the help you need.

SECTION 8 TIPS:

Along with knowing your rights and making sure you pay your rent, there are walls around you that can help you in these types of situations. There are many legalities that must be enforced by the Landlord to evict you. This is why your paperwork must be in order, too and definitely by knowing your lease can stop them in their tracks sometimes, too. TURN can also be a great resource along with the other resources provided. TURN helps you to know and understand your rights, aside from what is on the lease, too.

If you have been making your rent payments (even if you haven't) and there is no issue but you still get a court document to go to court, go. Even if you feel you are in the right, go! By disregarding the court date as a no show, it can be turned in the landlords favor regardless if you were right. Many times section 8 tenants are evicted because they lack the information and the importance of representing your case with your attorney in front of the judge. By providing the attorney with all of you receipts, lease and ledgers it can more than likely turned in your favor, but if for any reason it does not, you still have at least 30 days to vacate or 60 days depending on where you live.

*The websites provided was used only to provide suggestions for information purposes. In no way are these sites affiliated with my page or is anyway listed as advertisement.

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      RMC 8 months ago

      Valuable info. Thank you.

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      F.Cohen 8 months ago

      Very helpful information