“OK… for whatever reason, I have not paid my rent as agreed. So now what?”
The first thing that happens when you have continued to live in your home without paying your full rent is that a 3 DAY PAY OR VACATE notice is posted on your door (or handed to you in person). You should NEVER ignore this notice. It means just what it says… please PAY or please VACATE – you’ve got 3 DAYS. This is a very good time to call the landlord to discuss this serious problem that is beginning for you.
“That notice is just a piece of paper- I’ll pay when I can. What happens next?”
It is unfortunate that you have put yourself in a really tough situation by staying in a place that you are not really entitled to stay in because you haven’t paid your rent. Because you didn’t do anything about that 3 day pay or vacate notice you got a few days ago, your landlord now has no other method to get the property back than to hire an eviction processing company to serve you with an unlawful detainer action in which a judge may sign an order demanding your removal from the property.
“I don’t like the sound of that! How can I get out of an unlawful detainer action?”
Well it is very easy to get out of the unlawful detainer. You have 2 choices:
- Just get out.
- Call the landlord and offer to pay all past due rent and all fees to see if that will be accepted.
By doing one of these two things you will avoid the serious problem of having an eviction on your civil criminal history record. You didn’t get this legal action against you because you sang too loud in the church choir, you are in trouble because you didn’t pay your rent.
“I’m going to stay put and see what happens. By the way, what DOES happen?”
Your landlord cannot physically evict you himself but the local Sheriffs Department can and will. It can be very disturbing to have a deputy knock on your door and tell you that you have 3 minutes to get some clothes and get out, but that is exactly what can happen. Do you really want that? You should take this situation seriously because having an unlawful detainer against you can be a serious road block to you renting a home in the future. It will be on your record for many years and if there is a financial judgment awarded to the landlord it can accumulate thousands of dollars of interest during all those years. Is this what you want? The #1 way to deal with an unlawful detainer is to avoid being served one in the first place. Pay your rent on time and follow all the other terms of your rental contract to avoid being evicted.