There is no way to sugar-coat this reality–the attorneys in the Landlord Representation Group are in the business of evicting tenants. Evicting tenants is, simply put, the culmination of the work we do for our clients, the sometimes necessary result of taking action to protect your assets, your employees and your other tenants.
Our job is to enforce your leases, to help you make sure that tenants are paying their rent in full and on time and that tenants are otherwise behaving in compliance with the terms of your contract. We do this work with a solemn understanding of its real-world impact. We know that signing a lawsuit or preparing a notice to vacate may result in a tenant’s eviction and in the loss of the tenant’s home and potentially the tenant’s personal property.
Lawfully evicting a tenant can be a time-consuming and costly process. But carrying out a wrongful eviction is just about the worst thing that can happen as a result of the cases we file on behalf of our clients. Here are a few reminders which will hopefully prevent any tenant from being wrongfully evicted.
#1 Count Your Money
Tenants, like all people, sometimes make strange decisions. For instance, with an eviction pending, I have known tenants to put payments in the mail or in a drop box, or to make a payment online, all while the sheriff or marshal or constable is walking the property with a locksmith ready to supervise the change of the locks and the removal of the tenant’s property. Before you carry out an eviction, make sure to confirm that all payments have been accounted for and that your drop-box, mailbox and online-payment-inbox are not holding payments which may be sufficient to halt the eviction process.
#2 Learn to Play it Right
The concept of due process requires, in your cases, that every tenant who signs the lease must be notified of the pending lawsuit. Please make sure that the lawsuit you file names every tenant who signed the lease as a defendant. Naming less than all of the tenants who signed the lease could result in a wrongful eviction.
#3 Readin’ People’s Faces
Even though I am not sure the tenants could have ultimately won in court, I have had to defend more than one case which was brought because a landlord made a promise to a tenant which the landlord did not intend to keep. As a general rule, I strongly recommend that landlords not make any promises to tenants aside from those set forth in the lease and especially if it is a promise you do not intend to keep. Most tenants who get evicted have only themselves to blame, for one reason or another. Try not to give a tenant a reason to blame you by lying to them about any part of the eviction process.
#4 An Ace That I Could Keep
Evicting a tenant for a breach of lease is relatively straightforward: if you have a judgment and a writ, and the tenant is still in possession, you can evict. There is generally no amount of money a tenant can pay to stop an eviction based upon a breach of lease. But, even though they sound simpler, evictions for non-payment can be complicated, especially in jurisdictions where the tenant has a right to redeem the judgment by making payment. If you have any doubt whatsoever, please call us, or email us (before the day of the eviction!), so that we can review the ledger and help you determine whether or not to move forward with the eviction.
Evicting tenants is, after all, the business we are in. Please reach out to us to help you make sure that you are doing it right.
ABOUT TODD KELTING
Mr. Kelting’s practice as a civil litigation attorney focuses primary on real estate law civil litigation issues such as landlord representation and property managers of residential and commercial real estate. This representation includes the drafting of leases, policy and procedure drafting for residential fair housing compliance and litigation. In addition to landlord representation, Mr. Kelting handles complex litigation matters of all types, including commercial and construction litigation as well as discrimination cases and business torts.
ABOUT OFFIT KURMAN
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