Tenant Eviction

17 Replies

I filed 5 day notice followed by eviction as pro se (on my own) when the tenant did not pay February rent. At the fisrst court date on March 7, the tenant showed up with a lawyer. His lawyer asked the judge that he wants to file a motion to discover. The judge gave him utill March 25 for second court date. Rent is $2150/month and I want him gone soon. I hired a lawyer and am going to second court date on March 25 with my lawyer. The house was given to him in a great shape. His kids wrote over walls and carpetting is very dirty. Althought the house was painted and carpets professionally cleaned before he moved in. His maintenance requests were (2 while he lived there for 18 months) were addressed right away. His wife left nhim along with kids on July 2013and he had his brother and family move in with him on July 2013. His brother was not on lease and he did not tell me either but I found out from neighbors. The sheriff actually served summons to his brother. What is your experience with motion to discover that will be filed by his lawyer except it is a delaying tactic. His lawyer told me to make a deal as it would be a while before I get him to move out. I told him no deal unless it involves February/March rents. I told him that I am well capitalized and willing to fight. He paid fine in his first 12 months but has been late in paying since August 2013. He lost his 6 figures job and landed another one making half as much. He made promises after I gave him a 5 day notice that he will make good on it and that he has always paid his rent (as if he is paying me charity), but luckily I told him to Show me the money or Court. He could promise to be out in March end and then choose to stay and have me start the process late in the game. Anybody with similar experience especially with nmotion to discover filed by his lawyer.

I have hired a lawyer for the second hearing and rest of the case. I asked myself same question because he said he is too broke to pay rent but he shows up in the court in a 1000 dollar suit with a young yuppy lawyer.

A motion for discovery is a pretty basic stall tactic but if they find an issue with your paperwork as a result of that they can use that to further drag out the case. There are a lot of scumbag attorneys out there that will help people fight evictions for a percentage of what they were paying in rent (i.e. you pay me half of what your rent was and I'll keep you in there as long as possible, in some states that can be a long time).

Here in FL for it to even go to a hearing the tenant would have to file an answer to my complaint AND deposit money with the court if the eviction is for non-payment.

You did the right thing hiring your own attorney, all you can do now is wait for the process to play itself out and that may depend on how tenant friendly the judge is.

Thanks for your input Dawn and Patrick. This is my second eviction in ten years of investing but only one where the tenant has a lawyer. System should be much better and quicker in kicking out tenants with no rent paid.

Since it is April, do you have an update. It would be useful to the general community to document it.

Dj

The hearing is on April 24th where all parties are required. Hope to win and it is a good chance as per my lawyer.

I hope things go well for you. My eviction with my tenant is still dragging out as well. Cook County's process is just slow.

It is deadbeat tenants friendly policies. I know a lady who took 9 months to evict her tenant. Tenant was an experienced deadbeat and knew how to avoid notice, and the law. This was her first rental. Vowed never to rent again. I have been doing this for 14 years and this is my second eviction. Very stressful, loss of money, involved. Tenant screening was fine. Rent was $2150. This guy made 6 figures, paid regularly for 18 months, then lost his job and found a lower paying one. Then his wife left him along with his kids and she also had an income. Now he is about to be evicted (I hope very soon).

@Atul Mohlajee If you had tried to negotiate with your tenant earlier on, perhaps offering cash for keys instead of saying "Show me the money or Court", could it have turned out differently? Perhaps saving you from the stress, time and money of going through a court process and avoiding the extra rent loss you incur while your property is tied up?

I find whenever a tenant has a big life changing event (job loss, breakup, death in the family, etc.) and can not meet the obligations of the the rental agreement, I need to meet with them right away. Preferably at the rental unit. The tenant needs to either turn it around or prepare to move out. I try my best to show some compassion while still remaining firm and fair. This has worked out best for both me and the tenant.

If it is not likely the tenant can turn it around, I offer to work with them on a move-out plan. Never had to offer cash for keys, but I keep that in my tool kit. I've been a landlord for 19 years now and we have 15 rental units.... only had to evict through the court once. Our evictions only take about a month, but they cost $600-$800; so that's enough incentive for me to go the alternative route.

This is what I see in your case. You said your tenant has been paying late since August of 2013. That would have been a good time to talk with him about his ability to meet the terms of the rental agreement, to do a unit inspection, and to hold him accountable.

When a tenant breaks a rental agreement term, we do a unit inspection because 9 times out of 10 they are breaking another rule. Unauthorized occupants? Damages? If damages, I charge for them right away, before next rent is due.

By addressing that one item, late rent, with a site visit and inspection in August 2013, you would have been able to look for the root cause of the change in his behavior and perhaps would have discovered the events of July 2013 at that time, including the move-in of his brother and family. With more knowledge sooner, you may have been able to nip this before it got out of hand. I wish you the best as you sort this out now. Good luck.

Some tenancies will go south for whatever reason. As long as we can encourage non-conforming tenants to move on without them turning on us, and without them destroying our property or digging in their heels or costing us more money, then it's a win.

Marcia Maynard, Fischer Properties | Podcast Guest on Show #83

Very good insight. But this tenant was non cooperative. Never returned phone calls.. Threatened to overstay without paying rent if I asked for late fee. He was always saying I pay a lot of money to live here although the rent is market rent in Oak Park. He was not the type who had worked with me. Maybe I should try this with next tenant if that ever happens again.

How many of you have reached an agreement with a nonpaying tenant without having to evict the tenant?

How was your experience?

If you use legal procedure to remove a person from your property, it is an eviction. When we serve the notice to pay rent or quit, it is technically the beginning of the eviction process. If the tenant doesn't come through with the rent in 3-days after that, we have a "move-out chat" with them in which we say "You need to pay to stay" or we draw up a move-out plan. If they cooperate, we don't need to file unlawful detainer, which in our state is when it goes to court and becomes part of the legal record. If the tenant moves out before the month is over, we lose a little money, but not too much. If we work out a payment plan, we can sometimes save the tenancy and receive all of our rent, plus late fees.

We currently have one tenant who got behind on his rent and we had not been diligent about addressing the issue with him, partly because of his mental state at the time. For a few months he couldn't come up with the $660 for rent and wouldn't return our phone calls or answer the door. However, when we drilled down to root cause and tried to understand his mentality, we were able to come up with a payment plan that works.

He is now paying us $220 every Monday. We started this in January of this year and so far he hasn't missed a payment. He is slowly catching up on his debt and we were able to save the tenancy. His pride has returned and things are looking up. We plan to keep him on this payment plan for the foreseeable future. If he gets ahead with his rent, we will keep it in reserves for the inevitable time when he slips back into another clinical depression and misses a payment or two. It's a win-win. He knows he would have a hard time finding another landlord who would work with him in this way. Until he is caught up, we will be charging our $50 late fee every month too.

Our experience has been that the tenant either turns it around and catches up on the rent or moves out peacefully. We haven't had any tenants refuse to pay rent and refuse to move. (Knock on wood!) However we have had a few tenants stiff us on their last month's rent, leave a utility bill unpaid or leave damages that exceeded the amount of their security deposit. We are getting better at covering these losses by obtaining sufficient security deposits at the beginning of the tenancy or raising them midway if we see a trouble on the horizon.

Marcia Maynard, Fischer Properties | Podcast Guest on Show #83

@Atul Mohlajee , we had a tenant that lost her rental assistance because she got a job as required. The system works in strange ways...but even with a job, she could not afford the rent. She was very upset about moving, and had been a decent tenant so we gave her $300 towards her moving expenses and her security deposit back. It was far easier than an eviction, which neither of us wanted, and it was enough incentive to move peacefully.

My whole wardrobe is not $1000

I just found out that the tenant is totally broke. He has not paid his lawyer at all who accepted the case thru a mutual friend of his. He has not paid water bill for six months and his connection was cut last Friday. So far he has not paid the water bill in last six days. Even if I had made a deal with him, he would have stayed as long as possible if he is staying in a single family home with no water service. He is desperate to stay as long as possible. He showed me really bad attitude when I used to deal with him by not returning phone calls, not paying late fee etc.

@Atul Mohlajee Watch out when the electric service gets shut off. The tenant may start using candles. Happen to us. We later found burn marks on the underside of the upper kitchen cabinets and candle wax in the carpeting. I would be in there once a week doing maintenance or inspecting "something" so you can have a look at what he is doing. Watch your property like a hawk. Take lots of photos.

Marcia Maynard, Fischer Properties | Podcast Guest on Show #83