In Alaska, you can be evicted for a number of reasons, including not paying rent or violating the lease. However, there might be a few things you can do to postpone the eviction, or perhaps even stop it altogether.
When your landlord decides to evict you, you will first receive a written notice that states the reason for the eviction and a time period to either comply with the notice, if possible, or move out of the rental unit. In Alaska, tenants receive one of four types of eviction notices, depending on the reason for the eviction:
It's important to note that you are not automatically evicted when the time period runs out. An eviction is a legal proceeding. When you don't comply with the eviction notice by the time the notice period ends, your landlord can go to court and file the necessary paperwork to begin the eviction lawsuit. Depending on how busy the courts are, it could take anywhere from a week to months before a sheriff is ordered to evict you on a certain date. You can remain living in the rental unit until the sheriff is ordered to evict you, but remember that you will be required to pay the landlord rent until the day you move out of the unit.
Also, keep in mind that there are negative consequences—other than losing your home—to being evicted. An eviction damages your credit report, and it could affect your prospects for future housing. Some landlords will not rent to people who have previously been evicted.
If you are being evicted because the rental property is being foreclosed, see Rights of Renters in Foreclosure.
If you are considering filing for bankruptcy to stop your eviction, you should look at Evictions and the Automatic Stay in Bankruptcy. Filing for bankruptcy might not stop an eviction, and you should carefully consider your options before doing so.
When you receive an eviction notice, you should first try talking to your landlord. You might be able to come to an agreement without going to court. An eviction will cost both of you money (as well as time), and your landlord might be willing to stop the eviction if you agree to certain terms, such as paying rent you owe or stopping behavior that violates the lease. If you can't come to an agreement that prevents you from moving out, perhaps you can agree on a certain date and time for when you will move out of the rental unit.
If you and the landlord are able to agree on anything, be sure to get the agreement in writing, signed and dated by both of you.
If you are being evicted for not paying rent or violating the lease, then your eviction notice will state the reason for the eviction. If you comply with the eviction notice by either paying all the rent due and owing or correcting the lease violation (if it can be corrected), then, in Alaska, the landlord must not proceed with the eviction. (Alaska Stat. § 34.03.220.)
If you are not able to comply with the eviction notice within the time period stated in the notice, then you should talk to your landlord. For example, if you are being evicted for failure to pay rent, you will receive a seven-day eviction notice. If you can't pay the rent in full within seven days but you could by the end of the month, you should talk to your landlord to see if you can arrange to pay later. If your landlord agrees to terms that are different from the eviction notice, then you should get the agreement in writing, signed and dated by both of you.
If you do not comply with the eviction notice and you and your landlord are not able to reach an agreement, then your landlord can file the eviction lawsuit with the court. You will receive a copy of the paperwork after your landlord files, and you might be required to file an answer in response to your landlord's complaint. An answer is a document that allows you to state the reasons why you should not be evicted. This is where you need to put any defenses to the eviction, such as the landlord locking you out of the rental unit. In Alaska, it is illegal for the landlord to try to evict you through any means other than going to court. Trying to force a renter out without going to court is sometimes be referred to as a self-help eviction, and it includes the landlord changing the locks at the rental unit or shutting off the utilities to the rental unit. If your landlord tries to do this to you in an effort to force you to move out of the rental unit, then you might be able to use that as a defense against the eviction. (Alaska Stat. § 34.03.210). You should also contact a lawyer to ensure you are using the best defenses available to you.
Regardless of whether you file an answer, you need to attend the scheduled hearing. At the hearing, the judge will listen to both you and the landlord and make a decision regarding the eviction. If you do not attend the hearing, it is possible the judge will rule against you and the eviction will proceed. For more information on the eviction process, see the eviction information booklet published by the Alaska court system.
Even when you don't have any defenses against the eviction, you should still attend the hearing and talk to the judge. Depending on your circumstances (such as if you have minor children living at home or health issues), the judge might not schedule the eviction right away. The judge might give you a little extra time to prepare and move out of the rental unit before ordering a sheriff to perform the eviction. Keep in mind, though, that you will still owe your landlord rent until you move out of the rental unit.