I'm deeply in debt -- can I be evicted for this?

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Question:

I was laid off last year, then fell and broke my arm, so my debts have been piling up. I recently started a part-time job and am thinking about consolidating my credit card debts. But I'm worried -- can my landlord evict me over this? I have no lease.

Answer:

If you don't have a lease, your landlord can terminate your tenancy with proper notice -- 30 days in most states.

A month-to-month tenancy can usually be terminated for any reason that's not discriminatory. For example, you may not be evicted because you're a member of a certain race, religion, sex, ethnicity, and so on. And the termination must not be retaliatory -- because you complained about unfit living conditions to a building inspector, for instance. People who lose their jobs or get hurt are not protected by antidiscrimination laws, nor by antiretaliatory laws.

So the hard answer is that your landlord could terminate your tenancy. But as long as you continue to pay the rent and are otherwise a good tenant, most reasonable and reasoning landlords won't find it in their interests to kick you out. That would mean taking a chance with another, possibly less solvent, tenant.

If the landlord insists on being beastly and raises the money concern with you, consider discussing the matter honestly over a cup of cappuccino. The fact that you're taking the initiative in climbing out from under the debt heap by consolidating your debts is a good thing. So it may help assuage the landlord's fears that you're the type who stiffs others for the rent.

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