I returned home after running errands one day and my son gave me an Eviction Notice that had been given to him by the property manager. I didn’t even know that a property manager can evict you without giving a reason. I immediately emailed the property management and told her that we would be out of the apartment by the 29th and the eviction would not be necessary. She agreed that if I was out by the 29th that she would not file the eviction in court.
3 days after agreeing she wouldn’t file it, she started sending vindictive and threatening emails repeatedly saying, “You better be looking for an apartment because I will file the Unlawful Detainer — You need to be OUT right away.”
I kept reminding her of our agreement but to no avail. After a week of this, I checked with the court to see if she had filed the eviction. Lo and behold she had, even though it was not the end of the month yet. I felt like I was being screwed. On top of this, the sheriff knocked on my door and handed me a notice saying that if I wasn’t out by the end of the month they would show up and take everything out of the apartment and leave it on the sidewalk.
I didn’t file a response with the court about the eviction notice because I thought the landlord agreed not to file it if I moved out in time, so the court granted the property owner their Unlawful Detainer motion and I was in default for not responding. I had 4 days to move and I hadn’t found an apartment yet. During all of this, I suffered a major back injury which made everything more difficult, but I didn’t have time to see a doctor for that with the eviction going on.
After moving out I started searching for pro-bono legal assistance and was referred to the NW Justice Project. I found out that I could fight this, and we decided to file a motion to vacate the Unlawful Detainer order.
My attorney and I went to the hearing and the Judge was not too pleased with the property owners. We had provided the judge with the emails that were sent to me by the property manager agreeing not to file, then threatening me. The judge asked if I was still living in the apartment — and I said no, not for 2 months. She then asked opposing counsel if he had read the first email sent to me by the property manager where she had said she would not file if I left at the end of the month. He said no! She then asked him if he would have filed the Unlawful Detainer if he had read the email and he said no! The judge immediately vacated the eviction. I was so relieved.
But unfortunately even if you get an eviction vacated, it is still on your credit report which is needed to rent most properties. Now to apply for an apartment I will need a letter from my attorney about how this eviction was vacated in court.
If I could give any advice I would say that it is so very important to document your communications with the landlord. If I hadn’t saved that first email, I may not have had the same result. I encourage anyone in the same situation to find out what your rights are for your situation and fight. Do not let them intimidate you. There are programs that help people who don’t know about the eviction process and can help you free of charge. Do not give up and do not let the pervasive conduct of property owners and their managers scare you off. They depend on you being confused and scared to get what they want.
At the end of the day I am so grateful for the experience and for moving out of that place. I found this amazing apartment with really nice landlords and I am so much happier. We need to fight this ongoing injustice. We need to bring to light these issues so that everyone can benefit from a system that protects tenants’ rights. But mostly, I will always remember walking out of that courtroom with a huge smile on my face.