My First Eviction

15 Replies

I just finished up my first eviction and thought I would share my experience. This took place in Connecticut.

Background: I bought this property about 1.5 years ago and inherited the tenants. A boyfriend, girlfriend, and their dog. During walkthroughs, it looked like they kept the place clean. Rent was paid on time, for a while…

March: Apparently the couple broke up. He moved up the road with a friend. She came to me and asked for a rent decrease. I explained that a decrease would not be possible, but that she’s welcome to find a new roommate who passes screening. I sent her the tenant application to hand out. She confirmed that she got it and was looking for a roommate, but I never got any applications back.

April 1st: I didn’t receive the rent.

April 8th: I tried knocking on the door. She didn’t answer. I sent a text. She didn’t answer. No sense in getting in trouble for harassment, so I left it alone.

April 10th: Rent will be officially late in CT on the 11th. I was going to travel overseas for the week for my day job, so I sent a “frim, but fair” email, to both tenants on the lease, giving 3 options: 1 more week to pay, leave in exchange for $500, or face eviction. No response.

April 18th: 3 Day Notice to Quit served on her, him, John Doe, and Jane Doe. I get a text from her; “can we talk?” She told her sob story about being screwed over and losing her job, but also divulged that she paid him $1600 to keep the dog and she turned down his offer to pay the rent for April. I suggested she find a friend or family member to live with until she gets back on her feet and she assured me that she was looking for an option.

April 22nd: Summons and Complaint served and filed with courthouse. May 2nd return date set. Tenants have 2 days after the return date to submit their Appearance and Response.

May 4th: No Appearances or Responses filed. In order to submit a Motion for Default judgement, I need to prove they’re not in the military. Normally this is easily verified with a social security number and date of birth. Since I inherited the tenants, I did not have the foresight to get that information. I asked a State Marshal to observe them and provide an Affidavit Concerning Military Service.

May 6th: The Marshal has been unable to observe them. I work on getting statements from Indifferent Persons.

May 9th: I submit a Motion for Default Judgement and attached the Affidavits.

May 19th: She files an Appearance and Response agreeing with all points of my complaint. A court date is set for June 6th.

May 23rd: The original Motion for Default Judgement is denied. I made the mistake of including a statement from myself on the primary form. Apparently this is enough to cause denial, even though statements from Indifferent Persons were included.

June 6th: The docket roll is called. She has not shown up. I’m the only landlord there without an attorney. For the next 6 hours, as each case is called into mediation, I’m not sure whether to wait in the courtroom or hallway. Around 2pm, all cases have been called but mine. Somehow the notice that my tenant hadn’t shown up didn’t make its way from the Clerk to the Judge. Luckily I was sitting in the courtroom when the Judge was checking completion of the docket. The Judge quickly reviewed the case and did all the talking. I replied “yes your honor” three times and was granted a default judgement against her. I submitted my Execution for Possession and withdrew the case against him, John Doe, and Jane Doe.

June 14th: The Execution is signed by the Clerk and the Marshal serves it.

June 15th: She left a note that she’s going to get a moving truck. The Marshal gives her until 9 PM to be out. She’s not out. The Marshal gives her until 6 AM to be out.

June 16th: She’s not out. The Marshal gives her until noon to be out. She’s not out. The Marshal gives her until 4 PM to be out. The Marshal deems all remaining contents abandoned. We change the locks.

I have quite a mess to clean. So far I’ve filled about 15 garbage bags with food, clothes, and toiletries. The dumpster will be here today for the furniture and a garage full of car parts. Luckily there’s not too much real damage. I'm looking forward to screening for new tenants. It’ll be a miracle if I can get it turned around for July.

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Sounds like you have had quite an adventure. Lessons learned I'm sure for the next screening ( I understand tenants were inherited and due diligence is somewhat different )

A note on the clean up, are you donating the food ( still store sealed, I would throw away anything that is open ) and clothes to an organization in need?

@Harrison Harner

I have questions about the validity of the Service Member/Sailor affidavit that you may have filed, but perhaps your jurisdiction has more relaxed standards about the due diligence requirements for who may speak to this. At least in Virginia, you must query a national database. Had the tenant hired an attorney and made a special appearance, you could have had more of a headache. I'm glad you learned something from your first eviction, although I would caution against proceeding without an attorney in the future. I see some potential mistakes that, were this in my jurisdiction, could have convoluted the process and even cost you money. Maybe even a counter-suit. Consider counsel in the future.

@Matthew Kreitzer

I had questions about the validity of the affidavits as well, but wanted to keep the process moving as quickly as I could. The affidavits stated that the indifferent person saw a person, matching the description of the tenant, come and go from the property on multiple occasions within the tenancy dates, but never in military uniform. Without SS# and DOB, I wasn't sure how else to proceed. Can you comment on how an attorney might handle that situation?

In the future, collecting SS# and DOB will be standard process so I can query the national database.

Yeah, definitely on applications, you should always get their SS# and DOB. If they question why you need this info, you simply say it's required for a background and credit check and that you keep the information secure.

For any readers wondering what source it is you use to get military status, here's the site:
https://scra.dmdc.osd.mil/

I question the accuracy of this site, but it's what the courts want, so it's what they get.

IN the future I would advise against the cash for keys approach as it will only add to you losses where as if you evict and take them to court you eventually will likely collect all your lost income and expenses.

Sounds like a fairly easy eviction. I would advise, if she is not paying rent owed, that you take her to court to collect, She may not be able to pay now but with a claim against her she will be back to pay at some point to clear her record. Life is difficult with a judgement against you.

I never allow a tenant to get away without paying. I take tenants to small claims court for anything owed over $100. They will also be on the hook for all your court costs.

When screening applicants screen for the ability for you to collect not just their ability to pay rent. 

Originally posted by @Greg S.:

IN the future I would advise against the cash for keys approach as it will only add to you losses where as if you evict and take them to court you eventually will likely collect all your lost income and expenses.

Sounds like a fairly easy eviction. I would advise, if she is not paying rent owed, that you take her to court to collect, She may not be able to pay now but with a claim against her she will be back to pay at some point to clear her record. Life is difficult with a judgement against you.

I never allow a tenant to get away without paying. I take tenants to small claims court for anything owed over $100. They will also be on the hook for all your court costs.

When screening applicants screen for the ability for you to collect not just their ability to pay rent. 

1. cash for keys can be great. give them the $ after the place is empty and decreases the time to make it "rent ready" for the showings.

2. I disagree with your statement of being able to collect rent on evictions but perhaps you have had more luck. if they are evicted, they most likely owe a lot of people $. if a check arrives in the mail, have a party otherwise, move on.

Thanks for sharing! I am looking to purchase my 1st property and may have to do an eviction. I know you bought the property 1.5 years ago. Are you saying it took you 2.5 months to complete the eviction process? And I know we are in different states, but how much did it cost and why didn't you use an attorney? 

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@Thomas S. The ex-boyfriend never filed an Appearance and/or Response, so no court date was set for him. I had to either get a judgement or withdraw on every defendant listed for the case. I tried, and failed, to get a default judgment against him, so I had to withdraw to finalize the case. Yes, he essentially got off the hook. It was actually lucky that she filed an Appearance and Response.

Yikes! At least you got through it. I've never had to deal with the sheriff personally (obtain the writ of possession). Most times, they just move out on their own. Thanks for sharing your experience! 

Wow.  What a pain. I'd talk to a collection agency to check into collections.  You wouldn't have anything to lose if you just let them take a percentage.  They'd know how to go about it and find out who she is, etc.