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Eviction for Creating a Health Hazard or Damaging the Property

Contents

    If you cause a health hazard, or extensive and continuing damage to property you’re renting, your landlord can make you fix the problem or move out. A health hazard is a condition that is dangerous to people’s health and safety. It must be serious and ongoing. Extensive and continuing damage is severe harm to the property that is ongoing.

    If you don’t fix the problem or move, your landlord can evict you. Your landlord must go to court to legally evict you. It is illegal for a landlord to personally remove you from the property. To learn more about how eviction starts, read Eviction: What Is It and How Does It Start?

    Eviction is a serious matter. You may want to have a lawyer represent in your eviction case. If you need a lawyer and are low-income, you may qualify for free legal help. Use the Guide to Legal Help to look for legal help in your area.

    Demand for Possession

    Your landlord must give you a Demand for Possession before you can be evicted for a health hazard or damage to the property. This is the first step in the eviction process. The demand must:

    • Be in writing

    • Be addressed to you, the tenant

    • Describe the rental property, usually by giving the address

    • Clearly describe the hazard or damage to the property

    • Say you have seven days to repair the damage, remove the hazard, or move out and

    • Include the landlord’s address and the date of the notice

    Your landlord must serve the demand on you. Your landlord can serve the demand in any of the following ways:

    • Giving it to you in person

    • Mailing it to you

    • Leaving it at your home

    A demand left at your home must be left with a member of your household who is old enough and responsible enough to give it to you, with a request that it be given to you.

    Starting the Court Case

    Once you get a demand you have seven days to fix the problem or move out. If you don’t do either one, your landlord can start an eviction case against you.

    A landlord starts an eviction case by filing a summons and complaint with the local district court. A copy of the lease must be attached. A copy of the Demand for Possession and its proof of service must also be attached.

    Your landlord can ask the court to just evict you (called possession), or to evict you and get money damages. To learn about eviction cases in court, read Going to Court in Eviction Cases.

    Defending Against Eviction for Health Hazard or Damage to the Property

    Before you can be evicted your landlord must prove:

    • The health hazard or damage to the property is extensive;

    • The problem is continuing (not a one-time thing);

    • You caused the problem (whether on purpose or by accident);

    • Your landlord started the eviction within 90 days of learning about the problem; and

    • You did not fix the problem or move out within seven days of the demand for possession.

    If you didn’t cause a continuing health hazard or damage to the property, you should not be evicted for this reason. If there is not a current and ongoing problem, you should not be evicted for this reason. If you disagree with your landlord’s claims, you may want tell your landlord and see if you can work something out before you go to court.

    You might have a defense or a counterclaim that could stop the eviction from happening. For example, if you think your landlord is trying to punish you for something you had a right to do, like contacting a housing inspector, you might have a defense called retaliatory eviction. To learn more about defending your eviction case, read Common Defenses and Counterclaims in Eviction Cases.

    When you're defending a case in court, you may want to have a lawyer. A lawyer can help you raise these and other, more complicated defenses to eviction. If you need a lawyer and are low-income, you may qualify for free legal help. Use the Guide to Legal Help to look for legal help in your area.

    Immediate Eviction

    When an eviction judgment is entered against a tenant, the tenant usually has 10 days to move out before a judge will order the tenant be evicted. But if the landlord asked for it in the complaint, the judge can issue an order of eviction immediately. This means you could be evicted immediately if there is a judgment against you.

    To learn more about the eviction process, read Eviction after Court Is Over.