Understanding Your Options When Facing Eviction

Categories: Featured

Eviction Notice You have the right to go to court, make your case, and argue for your right to stay. The timeline and laws surrounding evictions vary from state to state and from county to county within Tennessee.  

If you are being evicted, you should speak with an attorney. The Legal Aid Society is here to help you understand the eviction process.   

The Eviction Process  

  • The first step of the eviction process is usually getting a notice from your landlord. The notice tells you they are ending the lease, explains why, and says how long you have to move, usually ranging from 3 to 30 days.  
  • Read your notice carefully. If it says you can “cure” the violation, that means you have a chance to fix the problem. If you want to stay, fix the problem and tell your landlord (in writing is best) that it’s fixed.  
  • Be careful! If you’re being evicted because you’re behind on rent, your lease may say that you “waived notice for nonpayment.” If your lease says that and you are more than five days late paying rent, your landlord can go straight to court, without giving you any special notice.    
  • At court, the judge may ask you to speak with your landlord or their attorney. If you do decide to discuss the situation with your landlord and you reach an agreement, be sure to get it in writing! If you do not reach a deal, you may ask the judge for a trial.   
  • At the trial, the judge will listen to you and the landlord, and any other witnesses that you or the landlord bring to court. The judge will weigh the information and announce their decision at the end of the trial. If you win in court, you may keep stay in your living space until your lease ends. If the landlord wins, you will be given 10 days to move out.   
  • If you lose your case, you can ask the judge to reconsider or file an appeal. You must file the reconsideration request or appeal within the same 10 day window you have to move out.   

Steps To Take Before Possible Eviction  

  • Discuss a plan with your landlord: It is a hard conversation to start, but finding out if your landlord is willing to work with you is always a good idea. Get any deal in writing, so there’s no confusion later. 
  • Consider your rights: There are state and local protections in place to protect you from eviction. It is important to be aware of the specific protections that apply to your area. Legal Aid Society has information available. 
  • Rent Assistance: If you are behind on rent, there are resources available to help. For a list of organizations in your area that can help with rent, utilities, and other housing needs, call 211 or visit their website.   
  • Preparing for court: If an eviction lawsuit has been filed, it is important to contact a lawyer as soon as possible. Be sure you know what you want to say to the judge and bring any evidence or documentation that supports your claims with you, and ask witnesses to testify if they are available. It is important to be on time for your court date and to make your presence known when called upon. If you do not show up to court, you will automatically lose your case!   

At the Legal Aid Society, we wish to inform people of their rights. Especially in difficult economic times, we believe that people need support to navigate financial and legal battles, and are here as a resource in your legal journey.