Landlords sometimes try to kick tenants out of the homes they’re renting. If the tenant doesn’t move out voluntarily, the landlord must take the tenant to court. We call that court process “eviction.” Some people refer to it as F.E.D., but it’s easier to just call it eviction.

If you are a tenant (as opposed to, for example, a guest or a squatter) living somewhere with a valid rental agreement (verbal or written), a landlord cannot just break in and kick you out on his own! Doing so would be illegal – your landlord would probably get into criminal trouble, and you would likely be able to sue your landlord for a substantial amount of money. If a landlord wants you out and you won’t leave, a landlord’s only way to get you out is through the eviction process. That process usually must start with your landlord giving you a “notice of termination.”

The Notice of Termination

There are several different types of  termination notices:

  • A “72-hour notice” is a notice a landlord can give you if you are behind on your rent. The notice gives you 3 days (72 hours) to either pay or get out.
  • A landlord can use a “for cause termination notice” if the landlord claims you have violated your rental agreement. The specific time frame can vary, and often the notice must give you the right to fix the problem first.
  • Landlords love to use the “no cause notice.” If you have a month-to-month agreement, your landlord does not need any reason to terminate your tenancy. Depending on how long you’ve lived somewhere, and what city you live in, your landlord would be obligated to give you such a notice 30, 60, or even 90 days in advance. And in many cases, a landlord is not allowed to use this type of notice if the tenancy has lasted for more than a year.
  • The “landlord-based cause” notice was newly created in 2019, and allows landlords to terminate tenancies with 90 days of notice because of certain changes in the landlord’s circumstances, such as:
    • the landlord intends to demolish the home, or to convert the home into a non-residential use;
    • the landlord plans to perform repairs or renovations at the home, and the home either right now unsafe to live in, or will be unsafe to live in during the repairs;
    • the landlord plans to move in an immediate family member; and
    • the landlord is selling the home to a buyer who intends to live in the home.

With any of these notices, if you refuse to leave after the date specified in the notice, your landlord still cannot just kick you out – they must get the court involved.

The Eviction Complaint

If you don’t leave by the deadline listed in the notice, your landlord can go to court and file an “Eviction Complaint.” Once your landlord files the complaint in court, your landlord must have you served with a copy. Usually the sheriff will bring a copy to your home. The eviction complaint paperwork explains when and where you must go to court. The single most important thing a tenant can do in an eviction case is to show up in court – ideally with a lawyer.

You have a right to an eviction trial. At that trial, you may have one or more good defenses against eviction.

If you’re faced with an eviction, you should talk to a lawyer at Portland Defender before deciding what to do. We may be able to help you stay in your home, and even sue your own landlord! Call us today at (503) 592-0606.

(photo by babukadja)