By Ali Rabe
There are many myths about how tenants can be legally evicted, which are surfacing this month as evictions rise to their highest levels this year. The eviction process is complex, and not knowing the rules around eviction can make a bad situation worse.
Busting these myths can help landlords ensure they are following the law and best practices, and tenants can know their rights and responsibilities so they can make informed decisions.
MYTH 1: A landlord can carry out an eviction on their own.
Many tenants receive a three-day notice and believe they need to move out. Instead, landlords must provide tenants with a three-day notice and allow tenants time to pay overdue rent or comply with the lease. Landlords can then file a formal eviction complaint, and tenants receive a summons to attend a hearing. In court, landlords must then win a judgment to evict. This process usually happens over a two week period.
Formal eviction procedures are not the only way for landlords and tenants to resolve disputes. Many community resources can be accessed before court.
In Ada and Canyon County courts, mediation is available before each hearing, allowing parties to work out legally binding agreements and avoid a judgment. Jesse Tree is also available in court to provide financial assistance and supportive services.
MYTH 2: Landlords can evict tenants for any reason at all.
Landlords must have a legal basis to evict a tenant. Expedited eviction proceedings can be initiated in Idaho for nonpayment of rent or drug activities committed on the premises. Other eviction proceedings can be initiated if a tenant otherwise violates their lease, but a legal complaint must be filed, and tenants have 21 days to respond to the landlord’s complaint.
Eviction can’t be based on anything discriminatory that is covered by the Fair Housing Act, or because of something personal. A landlord can’t evict a tenant who is paying their rent and complying with the lease agreement and law within the timeline of the lease.
MYTH 3: Only parties with written leases are landlords and tenants.
Idaho recognizes oral leases for tenancies lasting less than one year as long as the parties agree to all terms. Even if there isn’t a written lease, an argument could be made that they are tenants by oral lease agreement. The terms of an oral agreement are difficult to prove. A written, signed lease avoids the problems of a “he said/she said” situation.
MYTH 4: If my landlord isn’t making necessary repairs or maintenance, tenants can withhold rent.
Even if a landlord is not keeping the property habitable, they can still evict tenants who stop paying rent. If something requires repair for the property to be safe and livable but the landlord is not making necessary repairs, tenants should keep paying their rent and call Idaho Legal Aid.
MYTH 5: Eviction isn’t that big of a deal.
An eviction record is public record in Idaho, and it is not possible to get an eviction expunged from public record. Any future landlord or employer can see the case. Eviction records can also affect a tenant’s credit score. If a tenant does not show up to court, they automatically receive a default judgment.
Following eviction laws can save both landlords and tenants trouble. Both parties should do everything they can to avoid the eviction process, and it’s likely that everyone will walk away in a much better position. Before initiating eviction, contact Jesse Tree for assistance and we’ll do our best to get the case resolved.
Former Sen. Ali Rabe is the executive director of Jesse Tree, a nonprofit dedicated to preventing eviction and homelessness in the Treasure Valley. Rabe is running for southwest Idaho’s District 16 seat.
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