Challenging an eviction – Defenses available to the tenant
- Not Given Proper Notice – All states require that the landlord send a notice to quit to the tenant. The state law prescribes the exact requirements for this notice. If the notice does not meet the requirements prescribed by your state’s law, then the notice is not proper. If the notice is not proper, the landlord cannot file a lawsuit against you.
- Partial Rent – If you are in violation of the lease agreement either for non-payment of the rent or for some other reason but the landlord accepts the rent (either partial or full) from you, then the landlord cannot evict you for the period of the rent accepted unless you have signed a waiver at the time of the payment.
- Failure to Maintain – The landlord is required to maintain and repair the property. If the landlord does not maintain or repair the property, you can use it as a defense in an unlawful detainer lawsuit.
- Retaliation – If the landlord has decided to evict you as retaliation for joining a tenant association or reporting the landlord to the authorities or being the most activist tenant amongst all tenants, then it is an act of retaliation and such evictions are prohibited by law.
- Uninhabitable Conditions – If the conditions of the property make it uninhabitable, it means that you as the tenant have been deprived of the full possession and enjoyment of the property and therefore you have been constructively evicted. You can use this defense if the unlawful detainer lawsuit is filed for non-payment of rent.
- Fair Housing – Based on the Federal Fair Housing Act landlords are prohibited from discriminating against the tenants on the basis of color, race, national origin, sex, religion, disability, and familial status (having children under 18 in a home). If you have been discriminated against under this Act, you can use it as a defense.