If you rent an apartment or studio space, you must abide by the terms of your lease or rental agreement with your landlord. If you don’t comply, the landlord can ask you to vacate the property. Although laws vary according to the state, landlords typically can’t evict you without a court order, and many states require that landlords give you notice that they intend to evict before filing a complaint in court. The court process can take about 30 days, but appeal processes and the time for you to actually leave can extend that time.
Most states require that landlords give written notification to evict tenants. Landlords also must give you time to set the situation right. If you don't respond to the notice, the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit, or an unlawful detainer lawsuit. Each state has its own laws regarding the time extended to tenants before the landlord files in court. For example, in California and Idaho, landlords must give tenants a three-day notice to evict. Some states, such as Arkansas and Georgia, allow landlords to evict right away with an unconditional quit notice, which is a demand to vacate within a certain time.
Circumstances for Evictions
Landlords can serve notice if you violate the lease terms or don’t pay your rent. Conversely, you can avoid eviction by correcting the situation or paying the rent due within the time limit specified in the eviction notice. State laws often stipulate that landlords can serve eviction notices only if certain conditions are true. For example, New Jersey and North Carolina allow the landlord to ask for evictions only if they specified the conditions for eviction in the lease. Landlords also can evict you if you don't follow health and fire regulations, or if you’re involved in illegal activities. Tenants in Alaska get 10 days and those in Arizona get five days of grace to correct unacceptable behavior.
End of Lease Evictions
When your lease expires, the landlord can decide whether or not to renew it. If they will not renew the lease, landlords typically must give you a 60-day notice for annual leases, whereas month-to-month leases often require only a 30-day notice. In states that have rent control laws, such as New Jersey and New York, however, landlords must allow tenants to renew unless they can prove that the tenant did something wrong. Also, in states such as Connecticut and New Jersey, landlords can’t evict you if you're physically challenged without a valid reason such as non-payment or lease violations.
If your landlord files a complaint for eviction in court, you must respond by appearing in court. You can challenge the landlord’s claim during the hearing. You can stay if the judge rules in your favor, but you must move out if the judge rules otherwise. You or your landlord can appeal whatever decision the judge makes. After the appeal period, which is often between 10 and 30 days, the landlord can enforce the judge’s order. Tenants in Pennsylvania must move within 15 days of receiving the court’s decision, while those in California typically have a five-day time frame. If you don't move out, the landlord can enlist the help of a constable or sheriff.
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