If you’re facing eviction, you may fear the day when your landlord shows up at your residence with a sheriff’s deputy in tow, to force you out of the dwelling. In anticipation of this scenario, people facing eviction often move out before they can be forcibly removed. If you’ve done this, you’ve done yourself a great favor.
State laws dictate what must happen in order for a tenant to be evicted by his landlord. In general, however, landlords wishing to evict tenants must give them ample written notice. If you stayed put beyond the date specified on the notice, the landlord may then take you to court to obtain a judgment against you. At that point, the landlord may be able to change the locks on your dwelling so you can no longer get in, or get the local law enforcement agency to escort you out.
What You Avoided
If you moved out once the landlord gave you proper written notice that he wanted you out, you avoid his having to take legal action against you. This means that you will not have to go to court and face a judge. It also means that your landlord can’t obtain a judgment against you. In addition, if you move out before you are forcibly removed, this gives you a chance to take all of your belongings with you. Otherwise, you must let the landlord know that you will be returning to retrieve your personal property, according to the Neighborhood Legal Services website, NLS.org.
Landlords check potential tenants’ past rental histories before agreeing to rent a dwelling to them. If you allowed your previous landlord to take you to court by failing to move out when he asked you to, your rental history will be seriously marred. Potential landlords will be able to find out about your judgment, and that may prejudice them against renting to you.
You can protect yourself from legal action by your landlord by giving him written notice once you have moved out. Your notice can be just a brief note stating the date you moved out on. Make a copy and keep one for your own records. If you are moving after the landlord obtained a judgment against you, but before a sheriff’s deputy has come by to tell you that you need to leave, make a third copy to file with the court.
Cynthia Gomez has been writing and editing professionally for more than a decade. She is currently an editor at a major publishing company, where she works on various trade journals. Gomez also spent many years working as a newspaper reporter. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Northeastern University.