Question about an eviction, input requested.

14 Replies

I was informed on the 4th of the month that one of my tenants lost one of her jobs and would no longer be able to pay her rent. She stated that she would be moving out in the next couple of weeks. I immediately sent the pay or quit notice and have filed for the writ of possession and it was served October 12, with 7 days to notify the court. She texted me and said she would be moved out by October 22. I drove by this evening and noticed the sheriffs envelope still taped to the door. We also know that the electricity was turned off in September 18.
My question is, should I go tomorrow and unlock, and inspect the property for vacancy or set up the eviction/set out with the sheriff?
I would prefer to not pay a turn crew and sheriffs fees to show up if the property is empty.
Thanks for any experience/input.

Save the text, it should act as her confirmation of leaving.  It is better when they text you as they are leaving or after they have left, as prior notice can change, but it still gives you reasonable cause to assess the situation.  I'd enter tomorrow, but leave immediately if there are people or belongings remaining.  If it is empty or empty except for trash/unwanted items you should be safe to change the locks and move on...

I would be cautious on this, I was told by our attorney awhile ago that unless the premises are legally turned over to you by a constable then it could be your word against theirs. He called it the Rolex Rule, meaning they can say that they had things of value in there and you did not have legal possession yet. Basically a savy tenant knows this and can try to use it against you. Depending on if the judge is pro-tenant or pro-landlord could go either way. Not saying it would happen but it is a possibility and we just made it a business decision moving forward to always get the writ unless the tenant gives us the physical keys. Even though it does take a few days longer the gamble of the downside was not worth it in our view to risk the legal chance.

If it were me I would play it safe, you already filed everything. Just go thru the process and not risk it. People that are desperate will do things they would not normally do. You never know what they are thinking 

So far you've done it by the book,, so the sheriffs fee is not a huge cost,, I'd check the property and if anythings left.. go ahead with the sheriff.. but check it first,, maybe it's unlocked and empty,, take photos if you go in.. of letter on door and interior. If they are gone,, save the sheriffs fee.. 

Called the magistrate court and they said the writ was mailed out on the 20th. So I should receive that today.
I have been through 3 previous evictions in a different county and I’ve always went and scheduled a set out date with the sheriff. The clerk mentioned that if I “need the sheriffs assistance” that I would contact them directly.
I’m confused in this situation. If I have the writ can I enter the property if it has items?
Can I set them out and change the locks?

From my experience the writ give you the right to possession,, if physically they are still living in apartment you will need to have sheriff serve,, which has usually meant for me they come out and go with me and open the door.. if the people are still in there they give them like 20 min to clear out.. and then I change locks.. 

If the people are gone,, and left some junk,, go in photo the junk, and change the locks,, store their junk per state law.. I bet they are gone, and you won't know if you need the sheriff, unless you check and figure that out by either opening the door or seeing them in the unit.

I certainly hope they’re gone, the powers been off for over a month.

you mentioned she texted you. I would text her and ask if she has moved out completely and inform her that you need the keys. She will respond in one of several ways:

1. Not respond at all. Continue with the sheriff schedule to put her "junk" outside. Do not remove any of her stuff or change the locks prior to the sheriff being there with you.

2. She says that she is almost moved out but has a few things to still pick up. Continue with the same action as number one. Do not remove or change locks until the sheriff is with you.

3. She has moved out completely. Reply that you still need the keys. If she comes up with excuses...lost them, not sure where they are etc, get her permission in text to change the locks because she confirms that she has moved out and nothing of value was left.

4. She has moved out completely and will meet you with the keys or left keys locked inside the unit. 

The keys being handed over is a legal line in the sand that answers to a judge on whether the unit was truly moved out of or if the tenant was forced out by the landlord through illegal means such as changing the locks. 

So in other words, have they keys in hand or text with her confirming she has moved out completely or have the sheriff. Anything less and you will be open to a lawsuit that you will probably lose.

“The landlord owes the tenant no duty to protect the personal property removed from the unit. After the “writ of possession” is executed and the property removed from the rental property, the tenant’s personal property is considered to be abandoned. “

Part of why I love being a landlord in Georgia.

Georgia does tend to be a landlord friendly state.  Even if you don't get your writ of possession today I'd still go check on the property. 

Worse case scenario...power has been off for a month and there's food in the frig!  Open it carefully!  If so, close it immediately and get the power back on in your name before you attempt any cleaning on that sucker.

Gail

I went to my PO box as soon as I got off of the phone with the clerk. I have the writ in hand. I went and purchased another set of locks, I have a box full already, and will be visiting the property as soon as this rain moves out. I always record my evictions on a GoPro, and will be recording my entrance into the property and all rooms entered. I’ll check back in with the state of the property later today. Thanks for the various insights into the situation.

She has unlawfully changed the locks. Now I’ll be driving to the sheriffs office.

Set out is set for Thursday October 26 at 9:00am.
This part usually bugs me, but after telling me she’d be out by a certain day and not complying, and the locks being changed, I may enjoy this one

Best thing about this is that you are now perfectly legal and will be rid of a bad tenant for good. It is never something we want to do, but she made the choice to be evicted this way, not you. 

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