Did you get a three-day eviction notice? Don’t panic. Learn more about the eviction timeline, process and what you can do to try to avoid eviction.
A note on COVID-19: In some courts, eviction hearings have been delayed due to COVID-19. If you have received court papers, you should check their website or call to see if your eviction hearing has been delayed. You can find contact and website information for your local courts on this page, under "Local Government and Community Resources."
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) also sets a 120-day eviction moratorium (starting March 27, 2020) for tenants living in most types of federally assisted rental housing and for tenants living in rental housing with a federally backed mortgage loan. If you have received an eviction notice or court papers you should contact your local legal aid immediately.
Receiving an eviction notice is scary. But, eviction is a process that can take four to five weeks. Your stuff won’t be set out on the curb tomorrow.
Figure out what kind of notice it is.
Were you served a three-day notice? A three-day notice or Notice to Leave the Premises is usually left on your door or personally delivered to you. Read the notice carefully. If it is a Notice to Leave the Premises, it will include these sentences:
"You are being asked to leave the premises. If you do not leave, an eviction action may be initiated against you. If you are in doubt regarding your legal rights and obligations as a tenant, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance."
Do what you can to avoid court.
It’s important to take one of these actions before your landlord files the eviction with the court. The eviction filing is a public record and can go on your credit report. This can make it hard for you to rent in the future.
You only have three days. To avoid court, take one of the following actions now:
- Negotiate. Talk to your landlord about paying the back rent over time. Or, if you need more time to move out, negotiate a move-out date. Make sure to get the agreement in writing.
- Find a solution. Eviction is not always about money. If your landlord has some other problem with you, work out a solution to avoid court. Again, get the agreement to avoid eviction in writing.
An eviction is filed against you in the court.
If you can’t negotiate an agreement with your landlord, your landlord can file an eviction case against you in court.
The court will schedule a hearing and send you a summons with the date, time and location of the eviction hearing. Your summons might also mention a "second cause of action." If it does, your landlord is also suing you for back rent, utilities or other damages. Here’s what to do if your landlord sues you for money.
At this point, you have about two weeks until your eviction hearing.
Prepare for the eviction hearing.
Do you want to fight the eviction? Sometimes it’s worth fighting an eviction. For example, if you’re in subsidized housing or in a mobile home park. Learn more about when and how to fight an eviction.
If you decide to fight the eviction, try to find a lawyer to help you. It’s hard to fight and win an eviction case by yourself, so its important to try to get a lawyer to help. Find a local legal aid to see if they can help you.
Have you moved out? Be prepared to go to the hearing anyway and ask the court to dismiss your eviction case. This won’t change the facts: the eviction filing could still hurt your credit. But, you’ll be able say you haven’t been evicted.
Attend the hearing.
Here’s what to expect at a hearing.
If you decided to fight the eviction and need more time to find a lawyer, you can ask the court for a continuance so you can find one. You can ask for a continuance like this:
"Your honor, I am asking for a one-week continuance so that I can try to get an attorney to help me with my eviction case."
If the court agrees, they will reschedule the hearing. If the court does not agree with your request for a continuance, the court will move ahead with the eviction hearing.
Before the hearing starts, you can still negotiate with your landlord for more time to move out. If you come to an agreement, make sure you get it in writing and tell the judge.
During the eviction hearing, the court will decide if you should be evicted or not.
The sheriff will set out your things.
If court decides that you should be evicted, a “red tag” will be posted on your door. It will tell you how long you have to leave the property. In general, that time will be five days. After that, your landlord can ask that the sheriff come to your home and set out your things.