What Happens if a Tenant Wins an Eviction Lawsuit?
George Simons | October 19, 2022
Summary: Did you have tenant who won an eviction lawsuit you filed against them? Find out what to do now.
When you rent your property, you expect the tenants to treat the space with the respect it deserves and adhere to the lease agreement. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Some tenants will knowingly break the lease agreement terms, leaving you with no choice but to pursue eviction.
There are various reasons why a landlord may want to evict a tenant. Examples of such reasons include:
- lease violations;
- property damage;
- defaulting on rent;
- illegal activity on the premises.
But what happens if you file for eviction and the tenant wins the lawsuit?
Ideally, many landlords file an eviction lawsuit with the confidence that they will win and evict the tenant from their property. But, unfortunately, this is not always the case. Tenants who win eviction lawsuits may be allowed to stay at the property.
Tenants can win an eviction lawsuit if:
- they prove to the court that they didn't break the lease agreement;
- the landlord didn't follow eviction notice guidelines;
- the property is in bad condition due to negligence by the landlord, justifying the need to withhold rent until the renovation of the property is complete.
- the eviction is due to discrimination or illegal reasons.
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Reasons why a landlord may lose an eviction case
Below are some of the most common reasons why a landlord may lose an eviction case:
1. Failing to settle out of court
If you intend to evict a tenant, you must inform them about your intentions and explain the reasons. Filing an eviction lawsuit takes time, costs money, and is stressful. In addition, if you go ahead and file an eviction lawsuit at a tenant-friendly court, the judge may decide to rule in favor of the tenant because you didn't give the tenant a chance to correct their mistake.
2. Failing to follow eviction notice guidelines
If a landlord fails to follow eviction guidelines as the law requires, they can easily lose the eviction lawsuit.
3. Accepting partial payments from tenants
When a tenant defaults on their rent, don't accept any money from the tenant unless they pay in full. Only accept partial rent payment if you don't intend to evict the tenant. Otherwise, you lose the right to evict a tenant if you accept a partial payment from them.
4. Lack of a legal reason to evict the tenant
A tenant can win an eviction lawsuit if there's no legal reason to evict them. For instance, if a landlord files an eviction notice because they don't like how the tenant decorates their house, the court may rule in favor of the tenant. This is because the law doesn't permit landlords to dictate how tenants decorate their property unless it violates the lease agreement.
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What will happen if a tenant wins an eviction lawsuit?
A tenant winning an eviction lawsuit means that they have the right to continue staying at your property, and you have no right to evict them. If a judge rules in favor of a tenant, here's what may happen:
- The court may order the landlord to pay the tenant's legal fees.
- The court may ask the tenant to change their living environment.
Suppose you disagree with the outcome of the case. In that case, you can request a review. If your request is accepted, the court will schedule another hearing. On the other hand, if the court denies your request and the tenant continues to break the terms of your lease, you'll need to restart the eviction process then re-file the eviction lawsuit.
Is it possible to evict a tenant without a writ of possession?
It's illegal for a landlord to evict tenants from their premises without a court order. Even if a landlord has a legal reason to evict a tenant, they can't forcefully remove a tenant from their rental unit without a court's approval.
If a tenant has broken the terms of the lease agreement, the best thing to do is to send them an official eviction notice. After that, the tenant may either decide to leave the property willingly or choose to stay if they don't agree with the legality of the eviction notice.
If a tenant declines to leave your property after you've sent them an official eviction notice, you can go ahead and file an eviction lawsuit against them. It'll be up to the judge to decide the case's outcome.
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