There are several ways to fight a wrongful eviction, and knowing which one to use can help you in a contested eviction case. A landlord may have used the law against you by attempting to evict you because of your behavior, such as causing a fire or destroying property, or because you were in violation of the terms of your lease. There are also ways to fight back, and here are some of the most common.
As a tenant, your first line of defense against a wrongful eviction should be reasonable accommodation. This is a legal term that is open to creative interpretation. It allows a disabled person to stay in a home, and failure to offer a reasonable accommodation can be a counterclaim or defense in a lawsuit. A landlord may not evict a tenant for having a disability, such as mental illness, if he knows that the tenant needs a service animal. However, if the landlord evicts you because you have a service animal, he may be forced to give you credit for the animal.
Another defense to a wrongful eviction is repair and deduction theory. In order to use repair-and-deduct theory, a tenant must first give the landlord a reasonable amount of time to make the necessary repairs. If the landlord does not meet that deadline, the tenant can hire a contractor to fix the property. In addition, the tenant may deduct the cost of the repairs from his rent. This tactic can be limited by certain states, however, and in many cases the repairs cannot exceed one month’s rent.
Another option to legal defense is negotiation with the landlord. In order for this to work, both parties must agree in writing. The agreement should be signed by the landlord and the tenant. If you fail to get a favorable agreement, the landlord may file a lawsuit and evict you. It is advisable to retain a landlord and tenant lawyer when negotiating with a landlord, as this will help you to fight a wrongful eviction lawsuit.
During the eviction process, the landlord must serve the tenant with a written notice, which outlines the grounds for eviction. It must state why the tenant has been evicted, and it should be obvious that the landlord knows about the conditions before the tenant stopped paying rent. To avoid a wrongful eviction, however, the landlord must prove that the tenant was not responsible for these conditions.
In addition to proving that the landlord violated the law, a tenant may also have a defense against wrongful eviction based on the lease. If the landlord failed to keep the apartment in good condition, the tenant may claim that the value of the property declined because the landlord did not provide services to the building. The landlord may also have obligated the tenants to pay utilities in common areas that they do not occupy. Finally, a landlord may be obligated to give the tenants certain utilities that are incompatible with their quiet enjoyment of the apartment.