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Does a tenant have a legal defense to eviction?

by | Aug 15, 2019 | Landlord Evictions

Amherst rental property owners already know that each party to a lease agreement has certain rights. Even so, some landlords may believe that once they initiate eviction proceedings, they are guaranteed to win. The truth is that may not always be the case. Tenants do have some defenses that could change the outcome.

It may be tempting to accept even partial payment for rent when a property owner believes a tenant has breached his or her lease agreement. Accepting such payments could waive the right to evict. It may be possible to have the tenant sign an acknowledgement that making a partial payment does not waive the property owner’s right to proceed with an eviction.

If the tenant can show that the property is uninhabitable or not properly maintained, a court here in Amherst may not approve the eviction. The owner of the property has the obligation to ensure a tenant has a safe and livable environment. The failure to do so provides the tenant with a defense to any eviction proceedings.

The law prohibits landlords from attempting to initiate eviction proceedings because of some action of a tenant that the landlord does not like. For instance, if a tenant complains about the condition of the property or informs a governmental agency about code violations, it would be improper for a property owner to try to evict that tenant in retaliation. This is not a legally valid reason for eviction.

When a property owner believes a tenant has somehow violated the lease agreement, legal grounds for eviction may be present. However, the courts will want to make sure that the tenant does not have grounds to avoid it. Before initiating the process, a landlord would want to make sure that he or she can legally do so. Moreover, each step must be done right in order to avoid a court dismissing the action. Fortunately, legal assistance is available to answer questions, review the situation and assist with the proceedings.