Legal FAQs for Renters in
Table of Contents
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Do I have housing protections because of COVID-19?
My landlord gave me an eviction notice
What can I do?
I've been sued in court for eviction
What can I do?
Do I have housing protections because of COVID-19?
- Are there any special protections for Kansas renters during the COVID-19 emergency?
Yes, Kansas renters have some protections against eviction through May 28, 2021.
The Kansas Governor Laura Kelly has ordered that renters cannot be evicted for reasons related to COVID-19 hardships. This order began on August 17, 2020 and is set to expire on May 28, 2021.
Earlier, Governor Kelly's Executive Order prevented evictions of renters who have COVID-related hardships until the end of the emergency period. It ended on May 17, 2020.
You may also be eligible for national protections. Read more below to check if you are.
- What do the protections mean for Kansas renters?
The protection means that through May 28, 2021 in Kansas, unless you are eligible for national protections:
- Your landlord could give you a notice to quit, or notice to terminate a lease.
- Your landlord could be stopped from filing an eviction claim against you, if you have not paid your rent or violated your lease terms because of COVID-related hardships. If your landlord wants to sue you for eviction, they have the burden to prove that your nonpayment or lease violation is NOT due to COVID-19.
- Hearings on eviction may still continue, and the court may still hear an eviction case against you. You can defend yourself with the statewide and national eviction moratoriums.
- The court could still issue a new order, judgment, or writ of eviction against you.
- Law enforcement could still enforce an existing eviction order against you, to remove you from your home.
You may still be eligible for eviction protections through the national CDC Eviction Moratorium. Check here to see if you are eligible.
- Do I still have to pay rent during the COVID-19 emergency in Kansas?
Yes, Kansas renters still need to pay rent during the emergency.
You may have protections from eviction for nonpayment of rent during the emergency through May 28, 2021, if your financial hardship was caused by COVID-19. You needed to provide pay stubs, bills, and other documents to support your argument.
Also check with your local city or county government to see if they give renters any additional protections if they are struggling to pay rent during the emergency.
If you cannot pay rent, take steps to protect yourself:
- Communicate with your landlord: Send a written letter or email to your landlord as soon as possible. You can also try to negotiate with your landlord to make a payment plan or get a temporary rent reduction. Get help here for drafting and mailing a letter to your landlord. You can also use this letter-writing tool here.
- Get written records of all communication: Keep copies of any letter or email you send, and any responses from the landlord. Keep receipts for any payments you make, that are signed and dated. If you make a payment plan or rent agreement, make sure to get it in writing.
- Keep proof of COVID-19’s impact on you: Collect documents about your COVID-19-related employment problems, health care issues, or other issues that affect your ability to pay rent. This includes letters from your employer, doctor, insurance provider, child care provider, schools, etc.
- Check for help: If you need financial assistance for housing costs, you may be able to get help.
- Can my landlord evict me during the emergency in Kansas?
You are protected against eviction during the emergency period through May 28, 2021 in Kansas if you can show you have suffered financial hardship due to COVID-19. Other kinds of evictions may be allowed to proceed during the emergency.
After the emergency period ends, landlords can begin to enforce evictions against all renters, even those with financial hardships because of COVID-19, once again.
You may also be eligible for national protections against eviction. Read more below to see if you are.
If you receive a notice to quit from your landlord, or an eviction lawsuit, reach out for legal help.
- Can my utilities be shut off during the emergency in Kansas?
The Governor's Executive Order prohibits Kansas companies from shutting off utilities during the state of emergency through May 28, 2021.
If you need financial assistance for utility costs, you may be able to get help.
Landlords are never allowed to shut off a renter's utilities in an attempt to force the renter out. This is illegal. Reach out to a lawyer for help if this happens to you.
- Are you eligible for eviction protections under the CDC Eviction Moratorium?
What is the CDC Eviction Moratorium?
The CDC Eviction Moratorium orders that renters should be protected from eviction if they are unable to pay their rent due to hardships like job loss, income loss, or medical expenses. This protection lasts from September 4, 2020 through June 30, 2021.
The CDC Eviction Moratorium is not automatic protection against eviction. Renters need to fill in a Declaration document and give it to their landlord to get the protection.
Landlords may still try to file an eviction lawsuit against renters, but renters can use the moratorium to defend themselves in court.
Do you qualify for protection under the CDC Eviction Moratorium?
The CDC Eviction Moratorium applies to people who:
- Rent a home in the United States; AND
- Make less than $99,000 (or $198,000 if you file a joint tax return); AND
- Are facing eviction based on nonpayment of rent (not for other problems, like lease violations or criminal activity); AND
- Can show they’re unable to pay rent because they’ve had a financial hardship, like losing a job, decrease in income, or medical bills; AND
- Can show that they’ve been trying their hardest to pay their rent and find any rental assistance; AND
- Can show that they’re at risk of homelessness if they were to be evicted.
If you live in a state, county, or city that has an eviction moratorium, the CDC Eviction Moratorium doesn’t replace this local one. It adds on top of your local protections.
What does the CDC Eviction Moratorium get you?
The CDC Eviction moratorium can stop an eviction proceeding against you. It could stop your landlord from removing you from your home, or from a court giving your landlord an eviction order through June 30, 2021.
- If your landlord has already started an eviction lawsuit against you, you can use the CDC Eviction Moratorium as a defense in court.
- You can use the Declaration form to tell your landlord that you are protected from eviction, and to ask the court to stop the eviction.
- You must follow the process below to be protected by the CDC Eviction Moratorium.
The CDC Eviction Moratorium does NOT get you rent relief:
- Even if you fill in the Declaration, this does not cancel rent that you owe, or stop rent or late fees from building up.
- After the CDC Moratorium expires on June 30, 2021, you may be evicted for the rent that you owe.
The CDC Eviction Moratorium may NOT stop a landlord from suing you:
- Even after you fill in the Declaration and send it to your landlord, they might still file an eviction lawsuit against you.
- You can bring the Declaration to the court eviction hearing, to ask the court to stop the eviction.
- Call a local lawyer for help if your landlord sues you for eviction.
How do you use the CDC Eviction Moratorium to protect yourself?
To secure CDC Eviction Moratorium protection, follow these steps:
- Apply for rental assistance. Look for any rental and utility assistance in your area, and submit applications to these programs. Find local assistance programs here.
- Fill out Declarations. You and every adult in the household need to fill out a Declaration about your financial hardships and your attempts to get assistance. In the Declaration, you must say that you are telling the truth and that you may face legal consequences if you are lying. You can use this guide for help with the Declaration.
- Send the Declarations to your landlord, and also tell the landlord that you will do your best to pay when you can. Keep a copy of the Declarations, as well as any receipt or documentation that you have sent it to your landlord (like email receipt or screenshots of the message). These can be useful evidence that you followed the process correctly.
- Protections through June 30st. After you send this, your landlord cannot remove you from your home for nonpayment of rent through June 30, 2021. They are also never allowed to harass or intimidate you, or force you to leave the home without a court order.
- If your landlord has filed an eviction lawsuit against you, you can bring your Declarations to the court to ask them to stop the lawsuit. Contact a legal aid lawyer to help you with the lawsuit. Please note: Your landlord can still evict you for reasons other than nonpayment of rent, like for engaging in criminal activity in the home, violating building codes or health ordinances, or threatening the health and safety of other residents.
- You will continue to owe your rent. Try to make a plan about how you will take care of all the rent you owe. At the end of the Eviction Moratorium protections on June 30, 2021, you will no longer be protected from being evicted.
- Make sure you know your lease and its terms. Some landlords may try to evict you based on violations of the terms in your lease. If you know your lease, you can protect yourself by making sure you do not break any of its terms.
If your landlord is trying to evict you, you should contact a legal aid attorney who helps with evictions. The CDC Eviction Moratorium might give you protections that lawyers can help you with.
What if I need repairs during COVID-19 in Kansas?
Can I break my lease during COVID-19 in Kansas?
What do I do if my landlord tries to evict me during COVID-19 in Kansas?
Are eviction cases still proceeding through Kansas courts?
My landlord gave me an eviction notice
- My landlord gave me a notice to "pay or quit" my rental home in Kansas. What should I do?
You do not have to leave your home yet.
In Kansas, your landlord must give you an official notice that they may bring you to court to evict you for not paying your rent, a lease violation, or other reasons. The notice should give you time to either pay your rent, move out, or prepare defenses against eviction.
This official notice must follow some rules to be valid. If the landlord doesn't follow these rules, then you can challenge it and stop an eviction.
These are the Kansas requirements for an eviction notice:
- The notice must be written down.
- The notice must explain why you may be evicted -- whether it is for non-payment of rent, a lease violation, or other reason, this may affect how long you have to make changes or fix the situation.
- If it is a 3-day notice for nonpayment of rent, it has to say exactly how much rent you owe (rent in Kansas is all money owed to the landlord under the lease except for the security deposit).
- The notice needs to include a statement that if you fail to pay your overdue rent or cure the lease violation your tenancy will be terminated and you must leave/quit the property.
- If the landlord is not renewing your lease or terminating your month-to-month tenancy, then the notice must say that.
The notice may, but is not required to, state the following:
- Your full name and address.
- If it is a 3-day notice for nonpayment of rent, then it should state which dates your unpaid rent was due.
- It also should be signed and dated by the landlord.
- That if you don’t leave, the landlord will file an eviction case against you.
Reach out for legal help if you think the notice isn't correct, or if you need assistance in defending yourself against the eviction.
- What if the landlord has just told me, face-to-face or over the phone, that I need to leave my home in Kansas?
A verbal conversation doesn't count as an "eviction notice". To be legal, the notice must be written down and given to you in the correct way.
Reach out for legal help if your landlord is trying to make you leave without going through the court process. This is illegal and a lawyer may be able to help you protect yourself.
- Do I have to leave my home in Kansas by the time of the eviction notice's expiration date?
No, you do not have to leave (or 'quit') your home by the date listed on the eviction notice.
You do not have to leave your home until you have been brought to court, and a judge has ordered that your landlord can make you leave.
After the date on the eviction notice passes, then your landlord may file an eviction lawsuit in court against you. You will be able to go to court and present defenses to protect yourself.
My eviction notice says that I will be evicted unless I pay back-rent I owe in Kansas. What if I can't afford to pay it?
How long do I have after I receive an eviction notice in Kansas to pay back the rent to stop the eviction?
I've been sued in court for eviction
- My landlord has filed an eviction lawsuit against me in court in Kansas. What should I do?
You should make sure that the landlord properly 'served' you with the lawsuit. If they didn't give it to you in the correct way, you can challenge the eviction lawsuit. In Kansas, a landlord must follow certain rules to let you know about the lawsuit:
- Only certain people can give you the lawsuit's Summons and Petition. The landlord can not give you these papers - it has to be a person not involved in the case. This can be the sheriff, a deputy, a clerk of the court, an attorney licensed in Kansas, a licensed private detective, or by some other person appointed by the court as a process server.
- One of these people can deliver the papers to you personally, leave a copy with a member of your household, or mail you the papers.
- They can also post a copy in an obvious place (usually the door) but if they do, they must also mail you a notice to let you know they left it at your unit.
The Summons will set out an answer date, you must appear at the answer hearing, if you are unsure as to when the answer date for your eviction is, immediately contact the court to confirm the day of the hearing. You cannot appear on behalf of anyone else. You must file an answer with the court. If you have any counterclaims you must file them with your answer, this can be done prior to the answer hearing. If you do not file an answer before your answer hearing, then you must do so within 14 days from the answer hearing date or before your trial, whichever is earlier.
You should also reach out to local lawyers who can help you prepare for your court hearing so you can protect yourself against the eviction.
- Do I have to do anything after I get an eviction Summons and Complaint in Kansas?
You will have an eviction hearing automatically scheduled at court. You must appear there if you want to defend yourself against the eviction. But you do not have to submit anything to the court or your landlord before this hearing.
At the hearing you will be asked whether or not you owe the money, if you do not think you owe the money, or you are seeking to contest the eviction for any reason, you MUST respond with “No”.
The Summons will set out an answer date, you must appear at the answer hearing. If you are unsure as to when the answer date for your eviction is, immediately contact the court to confirm the day of the hearing. You cannot appear on behalf of anyone else. You must file an answer with the court. If you have any counterclaims you must file them with your answer, this can be done prior to the answer hearing. If you do not file an answer before your answer hearing, then you must do so within 14 days from the answer hearing date or before your trial, whichever is earlier.
Reach out to legal help to learn what your rights and defenses are in your eviction case. These organizations can help you deal with this lawsuit.
- Can I settle my eviction case without going to court in Kansas?
You can come to an agreement, but you should still go to court to make sure your case is closed.
You can work with your landlord to work out an agreement before the date of the court hearing. This might be a payment plan or other agreement on what needs to happen for you to stay in your home.
Be sure to get this agreement in writing, so that you can prove it exists and that your landlord follows through on it. If there is an agreement, you should take it to court with you. If your landlord fails to accept payment, take the money to court and make an offer on the record to provide the payment to the landlord.
Also, you should still go to court for your hearing date, to make sure the court knows about the agreement and closes the lawsuit. If you do not go to court, the lawsuit might still continue and the judge might rule that the landlord can remove you. Go to court yourself to make sure this doesn't happen. In many cases the court will ask if you owe the money or not, if you have an agreement, money to pay, or the landlord owes you more money for repairs than the cost of your rent, you should always answer that “No” you do not owe the money.
You can reach out for legal help to get assistance in negotiating an agreement with your landlord, and making sure this agreement is being followed.
Its information is taken from these sources:Kansas Legal Services FAQGovernor’s Executive Order on utilitiesGovernor's eviction orderPrinceton Eviction Lab's COVID Policy ScorecardsColumbia Law School COVID-19 Eviction Moratoria analysisEnergy and Policy Institute Utility Disconnect TrackerGovernor eviction order extension