Eviction Defenses

Legal Defenses to Pause or Prevent Eviction

Federal, state and local laws provide tenants with defenses they can use to delay, pause or even prevent a landlord from evicting them from their home. Working with a tenant lawyer who understands the laws in your area is a powerful way to protect your rights and keep a roof over your family’s head.

Common Defenses You Can Use to Fight Eviction

The terms and conditions of your lease agreement combined with local laws give you powerful protections against unlawful evictions. An attorney with experience in tenant law can very quickly determine your best defense and provide a plan of action to avoid losing your place to live. 

Below we cover some of the most common defenses an attorney can use to prevent your landlord from violating your rights. 

If you'd like to speak with an attorney as soon as possible, with a personal plan from LegalShield, you'll receive unlimited legal consultation, document review and your attorney can write letters or call your landlord on your behalf. They’ll even defend you in court should an eviction proceeding require you to appear at a hearing. 

The Landlord’s Notice of Eviction was Improper

Receiving a Notice to Vacate can send shivers down your spine. Where will you live? Will your credit be damaged? Both your lease and the law dictate the rules for providing notice to vacate. If your landlord has not followed those rules, even if you did not pay rent, an attorney can help you pause the eviction. If you assert a defense based on improper notice, your landlord will be forced to start the process over, buying you time to find a permanent solution to the dispute. 

  • Did the notice to vacate follow the terms of your lease?
  • Did the notice give you sufficient time to respond as required by state law?
  • Was the notice or the summons and complaint properly served?

Eviction is already stressful enough. Don’t go it alone. Get a personal plan from LegalShield and leverage your attorney’s knowledge of eviction law to protect your family and your finances. 


One study found 51% of tenants without legal representation had a final judgment issued against them, compared to 22% of renters with legal representation.

Seron, Carroll, et al. “The Impact of Legal Counsel on Outcomes for Poor Tenants in New York City's Housing Court: Results of a Randomized Experiment.” Law & Society Review, vol. 35, no. 2, 2001, pp. 419–434. JSTOR,

The Landlord Accepted a Partial Rent Payment or Other Compensation

If you pay only a portion of your rent and your landlord accepts it, knowing that the partial payment does not meet the lease requirements, the landlord typically loses their right to evict you during that rent period. If you make partial payment, your landlord may try to get you to sign a document saying you waive your rights to claim this defense.  

If your landlord failed to make repairs they are responsible for under the terms of your lease or federal, state or local law, and you paid for the repairs out of your own pocket, you may be able to deduct the money you spent from your rent payment and your landlord cannot evict you for failure to pay rent. 

LegalShield attorneys are well versed in all the rules, regulations and laws that govern eviction and can use them to help you fight back. 

Letter Writing

If your landlord presents you with a partial payment waiver, you should have an attorney review that document before you sign. 

The Landlord Has Failed to Properly Maintain the Property or Otherwise Violated Your Rights

Federal and state laws require landlords to fulfill certain obligations to their tenants. If they fail to meet those obligations, they generally forfeit the right to evict you and may even owe you money. 

  • Tenants have a right to a safe living environment with working utilities. 
  • If you give your landlord proper notice of a defect and they fail to fix it, you’ll have a strong defense against eviction and may even have a claim for rent reduction.   
  • Even if you’ve failed to pay rent, if your landlord has blocked you from the premises, removed your property or otherwise made it impossible for you to live in the property, you may have a defense against eviction. 

Many violations of your lease or laws such as the Fair Housing Act, which prevents landlords from evicting you do to race, religion, or gender, can become strong defenses to eviction.

Even if all you need is a bit of legal advice by phone, getting a personal plan from LegalShield is the most affordable way to get it. 

The Landlord is Attempting a Retaliatory Eviction

If you’ve done something you have a right to do, such as reporting your landlord to a regulatory agency for discrimination, and your landlord tries to evict you shortly thereafter, you may defend yourself by claiming the eviction was unlawful. Did you receive an eviction notice after taking any of the following actions?

  • Reporting your landlord for code violations.
  • Reporting your landlord for discrimination.
  • Exercising your rights under you lease regarding subletting or having a pet on the premises (assuming the lease allows these).
  • Asserting renter rights under local, state or federal law.
  • Paying rent into an escrow account, instead of directly to your landlord, during an ongoing dispute.
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If your landlord is trying to evict you because of something you did legally, you have rights. 

To use this defense, your landlord does not have to have necessarily initiated a formal eviction. The retaliatory eviction defense can apply even if your landlord suddenly raises your rent, refuses to renew your month-to-month lease, prevents you from accessing a part of the rental property or turns off utilities like gas, water or electric. Courts will generally assume eviction was retaliatory if the landlord takes action against you within a certain time period, typically 60 days to one year from your instigating action. 

Let Our Attorneys Assist with Your Eviction Notice

Besides the variety of defenses, you may have and the general complexity of landlord and tenant law, eviction can cause a lot of anxiety. 

For as little as $24.95 per month, you can get unlimited legal advice and consultation. Furthermore, your attorney can review any documents, such as your lease or the eviction notice, provide feedback and even represent you by writing letters or making calls to your landlord. Your plan also includes time for your attorney to defend you in court. These legal services would easily cost several hundred if not thousands of dollars if you hired an attorney directly.

Get Legal Support to Defend You From Eviction
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