I live in an illegal apartment. Can I be evicted?

By Tenant

I live in an legal apartment.  I have an oral lease agreement with the owner but recently, I have not been very diligent in my payments.  I am a single mother with two children.  I lost one of my jobs recently so I’m only getting enough for our daily expenses and nothing left for the rent.  Can my landlord still evict me, knowing that his apartment is illegal?

When is an apartment considered illegal?

An apartment is considered illegal if it is as space that should not be lived in.  Examples of illegal apartments would be the following:

  • Basement apartments
  • The apartment has no kitchen, bathroom, and inside plumbing.
  • The apartment has no windows.
  • The apartment has no separate electrical or gas meters.

If an apartment is illegal, it will be difficult for a landlord to file for a formal eviction process.  This is because the legality of the apartment will be a strong defense for the nonpayment of rent.  Therefore, the landlord would need to make the apartment legal first by doing all the necessary changes.  If he does that, he would need a lot of money just to collect a few hundred dollars from you.  If you ask me, that will not be very practical.

Risks to a tenant

If you are renting an illegal apartment, know that there are health and safety issues involved.  Basement apartments are prone to moisture and with moisture comes mold.  If it’s black mold that forms, you’ll be subject to upper respiratory health issues.

The same is true with apartments that have no windows and inside plumbing.  Also, there are great financial risks in living in apartments that have no separate electrical or gas meters.  You would never know if you’re paying the right amount or if you’re paying the electricity and gas consumption of the whole building.

The thing is, you may not be aware that you’re living in an illegal apartment.  Landlords may not be honest to you and tell you the truth.  But now that you’ve read this and you realize that you are living in an illegal apartment, do not be afraid to file for a complaint.  The landlord cannot kick you out just for filing for a complaint.  You can get reimbursed and be allowed to break your lease earlier if you do.  So here is the link to RPA’s complaint center: http://www.rentalprotectionagency.com/complaint_center.php

Edited on: Monday, February 11th, 2013 4:53 pm

10 Responses to “I live in an illegal apartment. Can I be evicted?”

My response: (We welcome stories, examples, explanations, answers and a touch of your personality)


February 11th, 2013 5:00 pm

In that situation, I wonder how the landlord would collect rent if he has no eviction to use to scare a renter.


February 12th, 2013 10:20 am

Problem is, if the tenant will tell the local authorities that you are running an illegal apartment, you’d have to pay a lot of fines and penalties. Not only that, a landlord would also need to pay the tenant for moving expenses. So why run an illegal apartment in the first place?


February 13th, 2013 3:40 am

You can still follow the normal eviction process, granted that the tenant does not know that you’re running an illegal apartment and that the topic does not come up in court. So better keep your fingers crossed.


February 13th, 2013 10:40 pm

If I were the landlord, still send the 3-day notice and then follow a formal eviction process.


February 14th, 2013 4:00 pm

Yes, I would agree on still serving the 3-day notice and hope that they’ll pay or move so the dispute does not reach court.


February 15th, 2013 9:20 am

If there is no lease agreement, then you would need to give your tenant at least 30 days to If they still don’t pay up after the 30 days, you can stop accepting their rent and you can have then evicted.


February 16th, 2013 2:40 am

I would be a bit more careful in handling this situation as I would have something of a problem too. The apartment I own could be used against me and I might end up paying more on fines than I would in the collection of rent.


February 16th, 2013 9:20 pm

Regardless the legality of my apartment, the tenant still owes me money and it is my right to collect it.


February 17th, 2013 2:40 pm

You need to check tenant laws and see if there is a provision there that deal specifically with your problem.


February 18th, 2013 8:00 am

Ask a lawyer what your options are. If you’ll likely spend more on a formal eviction and risk losing your apartment, it might be a better idea to just pay them to move.


Yes, the RPA® Can Help You!

Filing an official complaint is the nation's fastest way to solve tenant problems.

Not Ready? Learn more...

Virginia Complaint Filling Deadline  Tips/Suggestion

Need Help Filing Your Complaint?

Agents Available Mon- Fri 10am to 10pm

Recently Resolved Complaints:

See how the Nation's Rental Authority has helped thousands of tenants already!

Ask Question:

Post a new question to the RPA Tenants rights forum.

You Have Tenant Rights.
Recently Posted Questions:

Over 4,000 questions have been asked by tenants including these new posts:

Tenant Rights Categories

Popular categories about renters rights.