1st eviction: Reimbursed for legal fees? Back rent? (SoCal)

2 Replies

Like @Brandon Turner said, it's not a matter of if, but when, you happen upon your first eviction.

After closing on a 4-plex, just over a year ago, we quickly got local property management in place (we're a few hours away) and then turned over all but one unit  with new tenants.  One of the new tenants was always a few days late for rent payments, but the tenant eventually paid.  We were slow to charge late fees, but eventually started making PM collect those too.

Finally in mid-May 2018, we decided we'd had enough and could certainly find a tenant willing to pay on time.  So we told the PM to give the tenant notice that their (now month-to-month) lease would not be renewed after June 30th.  We lined up contractors for new flooring for the unit and had a new tenant lined up by mid-June.  Unfortunately, it's July 27th and the tenant hasn't left.  And the tenant hasn't paid...since May!!!

Our PM has a process in place (including a lawyer), and we're working through the process.  PM has also verified that the tenant has not damaged the unit (whew!).  Right now we're waiting on a court date.

I'm confident that the tenant will go...eventually.

As for the money, the tenant's deposit is twice the monthly rent, so we're essentially square, as of the end of July, for rents (if we keep the entire deposit).  However, that leaves nothing to cover legal fees / eviction costs (somewhere north of $1k already).  Can we seek a judgement for collection of those legal fees and any back rent?  Would the judgement be against future earnings?

Thanks for any info!

-Tom

You are NOT square. You should NOT use security deposit for last months rent (and do NOT tell the tenant this), UNLESS there are NO damages. If you get a judgment on the eviction, the tenant is responsible for all costs associated with the eviction, BUT, if they can't pay rent on time, do you think they will pay for the court costs and attorney fees? NAH! You can put in a garnishment, but you have to know where they work and hope they don't quit before the garnishment order is issued. Once issued the employer is REQUIRED to withhold a certain amount from their paychecks. However, garnishment is a separate issue from the judgement, and courts don't enforce collections.

THIS IS THE VERY REASON I RECOMMEND PEOPLE NOT SIGN A NEW LEASE ON AN OCCUPIED UNIT!!!! There is NO guarantee the current tenant will be gone.

Originally posted by @Ray Harrell :

You are NOT square. You should NOT use security deposit for last months rent (and do NOT tell the tenant this), UNLESS there are NO damages. If you get a judgment on the eviction, the tenant is responsible for all costs associated with the eviction, BUT, if they can't pay rent on time, do you think they will pay for the court costs and attorney fees? NAH! You can put in a garnishment, but you have to know where they work and hope they don't quit before the garnishment order is issued. Once issued the employer is REQUIRED to withhold a certain amount from their paychecks. However, garnishment is a separate issue from the judgement, and courts don't enforce collections.

THIS IS THE VERY REASON I RECOMMEND PEOPLE NOT SIGN A NEW LEASE ON AN OCCUPIED UNIT!!!! There is NO guarantee the current tenant will be gone.

Thanks @Ray Harrell.  Get your point about the security deposit & likelihood of recouping expenses through garnishment.