Each state has their own rules and regulations when it comes to evicting a tenant. Many renters need a free or affordable attorney to represent them at housing court and to ensure their legal rights are followed. There are law firms that offer low income renters the use of an attorney to represent them in their local court and to contest the eviction. Find more information below on how to get free legal aid and well as how to receive help from eviction defense services.
There are strict income and/or age requirements when it comes to receiving legal services for free. There can be eviction defense assistance given to senior citizens (regardless of their income levels) or very low income tenants. A lawyer can also represent someone that is being discriminated against, or they help tenants that live in unsafe housing that will not pass an inspection.
Generally the applicant needs to be living near (or close to) federal government established poverty levels and have a formal eviction notice in their possession. Or they need to meet other criteria set by their local non-profit law firm. While there may be some exceptions made by a lawyer, those are the general guidelines in place.
The renter must also be faced with a civil issue. If the eviction is caused by a criminal act, then an attorney will not defend that tenant. It is estimated that as many as 60 million Americans may qualify for free or low cost legal aid, and this will also of course include millions of tenants that rent their home from a landlord or apartment community.
If the tenant is qualified for free eviction assistance from an attorney, there are only certain types of cases that will be covered. First and foremost the housing issue needs to be civil. This means that it can't involve some type of criminal charge or something that is outside the range of a typical housing issue.
The landlord needs to follow the laws of the state in question. Each and every municipality has different rules and regulations in place. Most of them are intended to protect the tenant from an illegal eviction. Some examples of the laws may be as follows, but check with an attorney to get the latest information for your state.
Those tend to be some of the more common rights provided to tenants in each and every state. However they vary. This is why a lawyer that provides free eviction help can be very valuable. They will review all of the laws in place for that state or county, and ensure the landlord adheres to them.
Evictions can never be caused by issues over race, religion, age, disability, or similar matters. A landlord can't refuse to lease a home to a family because of these issues, and they can't evict a renter due to them. The bottom line is that housing discrimination is illegal. This is one instance in which an attorney can really make a difference in fighting the eviction.
The federal government also has laws to protect families against discrimination. They have been created by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and this government agency can provide eviction defense services to anyone that is being discriminated against. This means that Hispanics, single parents, African Americans, and others are entitled to a place to live.
The department has a team of staff that can represent the tenant in court. HUD will also, if needed, sue the landlord to ensure that all nation and local anti-discrimination laws are followed. Any individual who thinks they may be discriminated against by a property owner (whether they can't rent the home or are being evicted) can call 1-800-669-9777 for more information.
Lawyers can help tenants that live in unsafe or unhealthy homes. If the apartment or house is not meant for human habitation, and if the landlord is not making repairs as they are trying to get the family to leave, then they can be sued. Unfortunately there are cases in which the property owner just won't make necessary repairs as they hope the renter will leave the premises. This is a work around for the owner as they are trying to “indirectly” evict the tenant by making the property deplorable to live in. But this lack of making repairs is illegal.
The property owner needs to ensure there is electricity, heat, and water to the home. They need to ensure that safety repairs are made in a timely manner, such as the stairs are accessible to the disabled or seniors. They need to ensure that walls and floors are in decent shape, there are windows, damage from a fire is repaired, etc. A lawyer can work with tenants if these things are not being done and if the apartment is not satisfying local building codes. If the landlord does not make the home safe to live in, the family does have some legal rights available to them.
Eviction defense can solve other housing disputes as well. Depending on the law firm in questions, an attorney can help a tenant retrieve their security deposit if it was unjustly held. Another valuable service is mediation. This is when a renter and their landlord meet to resolve and dispute, over unpaid rent, noise disputes, or any other challenges. So if a pay or quit notice was sent for these reasons, those types of housing issues are dealt with as well.
Over 100 non-profit law firms have attorneys that provide free eviction defense assistance to low income families. To locate an organization, use this link or the search box at the top of the page. www.lsc.gov/what-legal-aid/find-legal-aid. Dealing with evictions and vacate notices is but one service offered as the firms help millions of families each year with a wide range of issues.
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