What to Do to Prevent Eviction

The Supreme Court struck down the updated moratorium on evictions policy that was created by the CDC in August, 2021. This means that renters who are struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic, and cannot pay rent are at risk of being evicted by their landlord.

What can you do if you don’t have the rent money, and your landlord gives you an eviction notice?

Offer to Negotiate

You may be able to avoid eviction by reaching an agreement with your landlord to pay back rent.

But before you approach your landlord to negotiate, be prepared. Here are some suggestions:

Know your rights

It’s important to know exactly what is required of both landlords and tenants during the eviction process. Understanding your tenant rights especially helps if negotiations fail, and your landlord decides to go forward with an eviction.

A summary of eviction laws in every state and territory can be found on the Legal Services Corporation website here.

A list of state-by-state Tenant Rights resources can be found on HUD’s website here.

Find rental assistance

There are government and social services that could help you pay your back rent. Before you start the negotiations, apply for all that is available to you. Keep proof of your applications, and tell your landlord you have applications in for these programs. 

Find emergency rental assistance in your state on the U.S. Department of Treasury webpage here.

Have a Plan

Don’t just have a “Plan A,” but have a “Plan B” back up as well during negotiations. 

For example - A renter owes back rent of $1,000. The renter’s “Plan A” is to offer to pay an extra one hundred dollars a month until they are caught up. 

If the landlord says no, the renter’s “Plan B” is to offer to increase the payment, until an agreement is made. If nothing is settled, the renter could then ask the landlord what agreement is acceptable to them.

Don't promise what you can't deliver

Renters should only offer to make payments that they can afford.

Be honest

Let your landlord know your situation, and what led to your inability to keep up with the rent. Honesty is the best policy.

Stay calm

Be friendly and professional. Don’t get defensive or show anger. Keep your voice calm and steady during negotiations.

If Negotiations Fail

The eviction notice is just the first step of the legal process. The landlord cannot suddenly lock you out, turn off your utilities, or remove your belongings. If that happens, it is important to seek legal advice.

Court Filing

A landlord needs to prove to a court that they have a valid reason to evict; such as failure to pay rent, or damages to the property.

They will need to have documentation to prove their claims. That means you need your own documentation, too.

Get a receipt for any payment the landlord accepts. If there are any damages in the home, fix them, take pictures, and keep receipts for anything that was paid for to make the repairs.


If the court rules to evict, tenants are given a limited time to appeal the decision. This timeframe varies by state. You can find that information on the Legal Services Corporation website here.

Move Out

If the court denies your appeal, it’s unfortunately time to start packing. Your time given to move out greatly varies by state. But usually, it’s best to start moving out immediately. You don’t want to risk seeing your belongings piled up on the sidewalk.

Some states allow landlords to remove a tenant’s property out immediately after eviction. There are also states that give tenants a few days, or a week to move out. Other states give tenants about a month, or more to move out.

You can find that information on the Legal Services Corporation website here.

For Section 8 HCV Renters

There is a harsher punishment for HCV tenants who were evicted for non-payment while using their voucher to help pay rent. 

If you receive a court-ordered eviction, you may lose your voucher. HCV tenants who lose their voucher this way will not be allowed back on the HCV program for up to five years.

Contact your caseworker

To help avoid eviction, it’s important to report any loss of income, no matter how small. 

For example - A HCV tenant was getting $30 dollars a week in child support. That payment stopped when the payer lost their job. The tenant should report that loss immediately. 

Contact your caseworker to adjust your income calculation, and lower your portion of the rent.

Contact your landlord

Report any loss of income to your landlord or apartment manager. Let them know about any situation that would affect your ability to pay your portion of the rent.

If you owe back rent and your landlord is threatening eviction, report this to your caseworker immediately. Some caseworkers might be able to negotiate a payment plan for you. Some caseworkers might not have the time or resources to help you, but you need to let your Public Housing Authority know what is going on.