Since landlords are essentially businessmen, they have to evict tenants when they’re causing trouble because that’s bad for the business. Sometimes evictions can come at the worst of times.
So, you might be thinking: can my landlord evict me in the winter? Unfortunately, landlords can evict any time of the year, regardless of the season.
However, there are some exceptions and special considerations—especially since it can be difficult for renters to find another home during extreme weather conditions.
In this article, we’ll look at everything you need to know about the legality of these situations. We’ll also review your rights as a tenant regarding evictions during winter.
Is It Legal for Landlords to Evict During Winter?
Sadly, no laws directly prohibit landlords from evicting their tenants during the cold seasons, so yes, it’s legal. It’s within their rights as a rental property owner to evict tenants as long as the process is still compliant with tenant contracts and certain eviction laws.
That may seem unfortunate, but there are still several reasons why eviction orders might not be processed during winter.
When a landlord starts the eviction process, and everything’s approved in court, the next step is a court order. When that’s issued, it essentially allows law enforcement to physically remove renters from the premises. Generally, landlords are prohibited from doing that on their own.
Depending on the state, sometimes law enforcement will delay these court orders in consideration of renters during cold seasons—this is especially true for tenants who are senior citizens, impoverished, or differently-abled individuals.
What Rights Do Renters Have During Winter?
Generally, renters don’t have any rights when it comes to evictions during bad weather or season.
However, landlords are usually required to issue an eviction notice first before moving forward with eviction proceedings in court. The specifics heavily depend on the state or location, but this is considered common practice.
These notices help tenants prepare and give them time to look for a new place. This also benefits landlords since most court proceedings—even those court orders for eviction—can cost a lot of money.
Most of the time, landlords won’t want a lengthy eviction process because that takes a lot of resources. Aside from the costs of court proceedings, tenants aren’t usually required to pay rent during the process.
Unfortunately, that means less income for the landlord’s business.
On another note, while evictions during winter are legal, landlords aren’t allowed to shut off a renter’s access to essential utilities like heating, power, and water during this type of weather.
Even if the reason for eviction is non-payment, most states have guidelines that protect tenants from landlords who want to cut off utilities.
This holds true even if the court has already issued a court order to remove tenants from the property. Some landlords can even get into legal issues if they turn off these utilities during extreme weather conditions.
In addition, some states protect certain populations—individuals or families belonging to a lower-income group or senior citizens—from disconnection of utilities during winter, regardless of whether there’s an eviction order.
Chronically ill people who heavily rely on utilities to live also have the right to access said utilities. Landlords can’t do anything about that and must comply.
If you’re thinking, can my landlord evict me in the winter? The answer is, unfortunately, yes.
However, some policies may save you, as a renter, from getting evicted during harsh weather. Local law enforcement may follow certain regulations where they don’t process eviction orders during freezing temperatures.
In addition, even if eviction is legal, most states prohibit landlords from shutting off a tenant’s access to utilities during extreme weather conditions.