What If I Get An Eviction Notice?

Determine the kind of “Eviction Notice” you were served.

If the paper is from the landlord himself, it is probably a notice he is required to give you before he can file a lawsuit. It might say, “Pay the rent or vacate in 3 days” or the like. If you fail to do either during the stated time, he may then file his eviction lawsuit in court.

If the paper is from the court, it is probably a summons notifying you that the landlord has filed an eviction lawsuit against you. You now have a chance to defend yourself in court – if you act quickly.

If the paper is from the sheriff’s or marshal’s office, it is probably an order to vacate that the landlord has obtained after suing you. The order will probably state a time by which you must vacate. And you’d better do it. If you don’t, some deputies will come by and physically throw you out.

What to do depends on what kind of notice you received.

If the paper is a landlord’s notice and you are able to comply with it (e.g., by paying the overdue rent), do it. If the paper is a summons, see a lawyer right away . Don’t put it off, because the time limits for responding to a summons are very short – as little as 3 days, and your lawyer might need some of those 3 days to prepare papers for you. If the paper is an order to vacate from the sheriff’s or marshal’s office, you should probably move your family and your belongings as soon as you can. If you leave anything behind, it might cost you storage fees to get it back. (If you didn’t receive a summons before you received the order to vacate, then you should see a lawyer right away, because a lawyer might be able to have the order to vacate set aside on the ground that you never had a chance to defend yourself in court.

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