Many young adults attempt to save up their earnings and dream of owning their own home one day. These days, renting seems more realistic to many of us in this economy. Those of us who rent keep our homes clean, pay the rent on time, try not to break too many of the lease agreements, and try to be as good of a tenant as possible to avoid eviction! Even though you think eviction may never happen to you, it is important to know your rights, as there are various grounds for eviction that all tenants should be aware of!

Pay or Quit (Failure to Pay) Notices are the most common type of eviction notices and can be avoided by anyone who pays their rent on-time. This type of eviction notice may be served if you have not paid your rent by the end of the grace period allowed in your lease agreement. The notice will detail the amount of time you have to respond or pay rent (usually five days). If you offer full payment, your landlord is required to accept; however, it is not necessary for your landlord to accept a partial payment from you. In the event that your landlord does accept partial payment, this will end the current eviction procedure and another must be started if you fail to pay rent in full. If you don’t pay your rent in full after the amount of time specified in the pay or quit notice, your landlord will probably serve you with an unlawful detainer notice. The unlawful detainer is a serious motion which will very likely result in you moving out. To avoid an unlawful detainer or pay or quit notice, pay your rent on time and stay in active communication with your landlord. As a tenant, you should know your rent amount and be prepared to pay it on time or deal with the consequences! Now, it is no tenant’s responsibility to fix problems in the rental unit, and most lease agreements deem responsibility to the landlord. If your landlord fails to fix a problem within your rental unit, withholding rent is not usually an acceptable way to deal with this issue! Instead of simply neglecting to pay rent, you should disclose the issue to your landlord in writing and take legal action if necessary.

The second type of eviction notice can be received even if you pay rent. Cure or quit notices inform you of a problem with your tenancy, such as a violation of the terms of the lease or a complaint from other tenants. You might be too noisy, too messy or have a pet that is not allowed under your lease contract. Regardless of the nature of the problem, your landlord will serve you with a notice (usually a three-day nuisance notice) and you will have the amount of time specified in that notice to fix the problem. If you disagree with your landlord’s assessment of the situation, review your lease agreement to determine whether your actions are in violation of its terms and be prepared to back up your position with text from your lease. It may also be possible for you to work out an agreement with your landlord and neighbors that allows you to slightly modify the terms of your lease. Either way, immediately fixing the problem described in the cure or quit notice is probably the best action to take if you want to avoid eviction.

In both of the notices above, the tenant has the ability to fix the violation in an attempt to stave off eviction. In contrast, an unconditional quit notice is a harsh measure that provides the tenant with no opportunity to pay rent or make up for actions that have violated the lease agreement. This type of notice might be served if the tenant has failed to pay rent on time for a prolonged period, repeatedly violated terms of the lease agreement, caused extensive damage to the rental property, or engaged in illegal activity (such as selling drugs) on the property. If you’re this type of tenant, you probably already knew your violations were extensive, and there is not much you can do about the eviction except get the hell outta there!

Next, a non-eviction move out notice may be served without cause if your landlord wishes to terminate your rental agreement. Depending on your rental period and the terms of your lease, you may receive a no-cause notice with the amount of time in which the landlord expects you to move out. Just as you can usually give your landlord a specific amount of advance notice if you wish to end a week-to-week or month-to-month lease, your landlord can give you notice to move out if he or she wishes to renovate your living space, get a new tenant, or just stop renting altogether for whatever reason. A tenant will receive a seven day no-cause notice for weekly rentals or a 30 or 60 day no-cause notice for monthly rentals. As a tenant, you have signed a term-to-term basis and your landlord is giving you the required notice, so you probably don’t have much recourse in this situation since you are living on the landlord’s property, after all.

Most tenants who have been evicted put the past behind them and simply move out and move on! Especially when the tenant knows he or she has deserved to be evicted, gathering one’s belongings and getting out seems to be the best option. BUT in the event that you do not feel you deserve to be evicted, the tenacious tenant can fight back by filing a counter-claim. A counter-claim against an eviction notice is often filed on the grounds that the apartment is uninhabitable or that the landlord is otherwise violating your rights as a tenant. This may bring up the question as to why you’re still living somewhere which is unfit for human habitation. Still, your landlord is responsible for providing you with a certain degree of comfort in your rental unit, and his or her failure to do so may be legally significant, especially if a health or safety violation is involved. You may also be able to dispute the eviction notice on the grounds that it was improperly served (not directly served to you as the tenant), not worded clearly, or did not provide sufficient time for you to respond. The eviction process is very detailed, and landlords must adhere to strict standards when serving a notice. By the same token, you should consult a lawyer or local legal resources for assistance with disputing an eviction.

While eviction is a serious proceeding, it’s one that can be avoided or appeased by becoming familiar with the terms of your lease and sticking to them. Usually, those tenants that pay rent on time, keep the property clean, and stay respectful of their neighbors should be able to avoid getting served with any type of eviction notice. By knowing your rights and using your resources, you can remain an informed tenant, free of eviction!