Let’s face it: this past year was rough. The pandemic took its toll on all of us. Some lost their jobs, others their mental health and tragically, some lost their loved ones. With the onset of the pandemic, the world was turned upside down, and few knew just what to do about it. Going forward, things are looking brighter, but the silver clouds have dark linings.
While many evictions have been temporarily allayed by government actions, the legislation that postponed evictions due to unpaid rent will soon expire and landlords will once again be free to evict their tenants. If you’re struggling financially, you may soon be faced with the prospect of losing your home, unless you can find a way to fight the eviction.
This brings us to our topic for today: fighting eviction on a limited or nonexistent budget. If you’re in the situation that many Americans have suddenly found themselves in, you’re going to need to get ready to fight eviction, and you’re going to need to do it fast. So what are the best ways in which you can fight eviction without money? Let’s find out.
Keep your cool while fighting eviction
The first and most important thing to do is remember to stay calm, collected and calculated at every step along the way. Losing your cool, panicking or acting rashly will not do anything to help your situation, and it’s likely to exacerbate an already less-than-ideal situation. If you want to have a chance at keeping your rental until you can arrange for other accommodations or resolve your existing situation, composure is a must.
If you feel the urge to act out, try to stay calm and composed. Exhale and inhale deeply, and do your best to calm your mind. If you feel an overwhelming impulse to lose your cool, remember that it will only hurt your current situation. Yes, the circumstances you’ve found yourself in are unfair and inconvenient, but an outburst of anger will solve nothing.
A great way to deal with this kind of stress, anxiety and anger is meditation. While many view meditation as an explicitly spiritual or mystic exercise, it doesn’t have to be if you don’t want it to. In its simplest form, meditation is just the act of clearing your mind of intrusive thoughts and focusing on achieving mental and physical balance. In a situation like this, balance can be a valuable asset indeed.
In addition to helping you with your accommodation-related woes, adopting the right attitude and learning to control your emotions can be a very viable way to improve your success in other areas of your life. Behaving in a calm and measured yet assertive manner will help you with employment, relationships, personal and professional disputes and in many other areas.
Reason with your landlord
If you haven’t already, it may be a good idea to speak to your landlord, even if there hasn’t been any talk of eviction. Schedule an appointment with them and discuss your situation, your options and what may happen in the future. If you’re still protected from eviction by legislation, use your remaining safe period to explore your options with your landlord and see if you can arrive at a mutually agreeable solution.
While it’s easy to see all landlords as uniformly greedy, sleazy and conniving, a lot of them are very reasonable people. If you speak calmly and reasonably with your landlord, there’s a good chance you’ll manage to find a solution that, at the very least, allows you to find a place to stay until you’re able to find other accommodation.
It’s in this situation that you’ll want to take full advantage of your calm and collected demeanor; you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar, and you’re going to want to use all the honey you’ve got. Be persuasive; tell them why they should keep you as a tenant, and how it will be advantageous to them in the future. If you’ve been a model tenant up until this point, they may choose to let you miss a month or two of rent instead of having to find a new, unpredictable tenant.
As you’re approaching this situation, it’s important to remember that, despite how you may view them, your landlord is still a person. Even if they are currently behaving in a way that may seem unfair or unreasonable, they are still subject to the same limitations and realities that you are. If you’d like to keep your apartment, try to put yourself in their shoes and use this newfound perspective to reason with them.
Get a lawyer to help with your eviction
For those of you who are in a pressing financial situation, getting a lawyer might not seem like an option at first, but legal services are more attainable than you might think. Many lawyers will work pro bono if they empathize with the client and their situation, and having a lawyer on your side will help you fight an eviction if the situation escalates to the point where legal action is taken.
With a bit of searching, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to find a lawyer that works for little or no fee, who will represent you in court should things come to that point. Without a lawyer, you stand a heavily reduced chance of winning any legal battle, but if you have one on your side you’ve got a much better shot at coming out on top in the courtroom. If you need further assistance, get a public defender or apply for emergency rental assistance.
If you visit your local legal practices, you may be able to find a lawyer willing to represent you for free, which will help you fight eviction if you end up facing it. An even better way to get in touch with one such lawyer is to find a real estate agent in your area and ask them for a recommendation; as real estate agents, they may know of a real estate attorney willing to help renters in your position free of charge.
Once you’ve found a real estate attorney who is willing to represent you at no cost, you might be surprised at how effective their assistance can be. There are a number or legal counters to forced eviction due to a failure to pay rent such as the force majeure clause, and often the court costs alone are enough to force a landlord to reconsider.
Consider finding a new place to live
Although it may be a difficult prospect to contemplate, moving to new accommodations may be the only remaining option. If you’ve exhausted every other option and your landlord is still intent on evicting you, you’ll have to face this reality. This isn’t as bad as it seems; finding a new home is easier than you might think, and it might actually end up being an improvement over your previous living situation!
Once you’ve accepted your situation, it’s time to start searching for a new rental. There are a wide variety of online tools you can use to facilitate this search, but most accommodation seekers gravitate towards classifieds websites such as Craigslist and Facebook marketplace. When using these resources, be sure to do your research and verify that you’re getting a good deal.
If you aren’t able to afford a rental at the current time, you may be eligible for government assistance in the form of unemployment benefits, low-cost housing or food stamps. These programs are targeted at those who are experiencing financial hardship or instability, and are designed to help individuals regain their financial independence and self determination.
Regardless whether you seek government assistance or not, you’ll have a much easier go at things if you find a real estate agent in your area that specializes in rentals. Even if you don’t have the money to make use of their services, they’ll still be more than willing to share some useful words of advice, as well as possibly helping you expunge the eviction from your permanent record.
Consider declaring bankruptcy
If all else fails and you’re still facing months of outstanding rent payments with nowhere else to turn, you may have only one option to fall back on: bankruptcy. This is certainly not an ideal course of action due to the negative repercussions for your credit score, employment situation and its other effects, but in situations such as these it may be your only option.
Filing for bankruptcy can be a long and arduous process, and it will be disastrous for your credit score, but it can help you escape many of the issues that accompany a forceful eviction. It won’t erase the debt that you’ve racked up, but it will help you avoid having to pay it back if you’re unable at this time.
While you should certainly explore all possible options before resorting to bankruptcy, the common perception of bankruptcy as a death knell for your financial situation isn’t necessarily true. While it’s difficult to regain your credit score after filing for bankruptcy, it is very achievable, albeit over a somewhat lengthy period of time.
After you’ve filed for bankruptcy, you’ll be able to work towards finding yourself somewhere to stay, at least until you’re able to regain some of your financial stability. You may have to stay with friends or family for a little while, but ultimately this situation is what it is, and you have to do whatever it takes to get out of it.
Can you fight eviction?
There’s no easy way to deal with a forceful eviction. No matter how you approach this situation, you’ll have to make some difficult decisions and tough choices. At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that, even though things are far from ideal, circumstances will improve. All things pass in time, and this will too. We hope this article has been of some help!