Do I need to have a lawyer if I'm being evicted?
In many states, however, evictions are filed in regular courts, which are governed by various rules and procedures under your state’s particular laws. When appearing in such a court for an eviction or any other lawsuit, you are held to the same standard as a lawyer. In other words, you are responsible for following all procedures, just as if you were a lawyer. For example, if you don’t know how to properly admit a document into evidence during the eviction proceedings, then the judge might not allow you to present the document at all, no matter how important it may be to your case.
As previously stated, landlord have to follow certain rules for evicting you. For instance, if a landlord doesn’t properly serve you with notice of the eviction proceedings, then the court shouldn’t evict you. If you’re not a lawyer, you might not be aware of these rules, and your landlord may get away with wrongfully evicting you. A judge can’t give you legal advice about how to handle an eviction, so you’re totally on your own if you don’t know what to do in court.
Plus, even in states where evictions occur in small claims courts that are designed for non-lawyers, they still have rules that you have to follow. For instance, if your landlord is claiming that you broke your rental agreement by having a pet in your apartment, you need to show the court some proof that you didn’t have a pet in the apartment. You might need a witness to testify that you didn’t have a pet, or pictures to show that there was no pet-related damage to the apartment. A lawyer can help you prepare your case in order to avoid being wrongfully evicted, by using procedures and laws that might be unfamiliar to a non-lawyer.
Perhaps most importantly, if you are being evicted, you and/or your family are losing your home. You are not only facing trying to find another place to live, but also the costs of moving, disconnecting and reconnecting utilities, and a security deposit, among others. Therefore, eviction proceedings can be really important, especially if you don’t think that you have violated your rental agreement, or if you think that your landlord is wrongfully evicting you. The best way to be prepared for eviction proceedings is to consult experienced legal counsel especially when your home is at stake.
The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.
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