Do you think the judge will.....

39 Replies

reopen this case.  

Here is the background information. 

Jurisdiction:   This is in State of Virginia, and under the jurisdiction of Richmond General District Court. 

Background Information: A perfectly fine tenant, who seemed like a perfectly normal person decided to move into my Duplex. She was advised time and again, by both, my PM and myself, to come down here and look at the place beforehand. She declined the offer, and insisted that she wanted to do everything right away and based on pictures. 

From the moment she entered in the house, she did a complete 180. She started bi***g and complaining about how she has been cheated, and how we misrepresented her, and how she needs the paint redone, and re-order the appliances. How she wants me to put her up in hotel for 15 days, and pay for her food as well. This woman went nuts.  

When she did not pay the next month,  I filed for eviction. 

Eviction Process:  On the initial hearing date, you can ask for a trial. Most idiots don't know it. She is smarter (maybe a tad bit). She asked for trail. So the date was pushed back another 3 weeks.  

Trial Date:   Both, the judge and I, we are waiting for her to show up. Trial time is set at 9:15 A.M. She calls in around 9:15 and says she is going to be a bit late. The clerk informs the judge. The judge says, OK.. lets wait about 10-15 mins. We wait a good 20 min for her to show up. She never shows up and the judge grants a default judgement in my favor.

After the Trial:  As I am filing the Writ of Possession, at the clerk's office, she shows up. Starts arguing with the clerk. I ignore her and pay for the Writ and file it. I go home. 

Next Day:  I check on the website the next day, and looks like she has filed motion to reopen the case. Motion to Reopen Case I got mail yesterday from Clerk's Office  with copy of the paperwork she filed.  On the paperwork it states that,  I am a fraud (LOL) and she needs this case reopened because not opening this case will cause tremendous hardship on her and her son.   The defendant did not provide any extenuating reason for failing to appear at the scheduled time (in spite of being given additional 20 mins to appear)

I faxed the judge yesterday nicely worded letter stating that I live 125 miles from the courts, and that it would be very inconvenient for me to have this reopened. and that I object to her motion to reopen the case. 

Side note:  As a sidebar to this conversation, I do have a PM now, but I ended up changing PMs between the time she moved in and now. So the new PM is unable to handle this case officially, as it was started before he took over. Hence, I have to be there myself. 

So, ladies and gentlemen, guys and gals, what do you think? What are her chances of getting this reopened.  How often do judges honor these kind of motions? 

I agree that you need an attorney eyewitness to put and end to this as quickly as possibly.

It may cost you more time and money than an attorney will cost in lost rent.

you obviously ran into a professional tenant.. who knows the landlord tenant laws.. you will prevail I suppose .

but depends on the court.. judge may grant it he or she may not.. If they do .. just show up and argue your case.

In Oregon I got tired of this and we have eviction services.. its all they do.. and instead of hiring a lawyer by the hour.. they charge a flat fee used to be 600 or 650 bucks.. you give them a copy of the lease and they get the people out.. 

I would think lesson learned here Is never lease to someone that has not done a walk through and signed off on condition.   Kind of like when I am selling my new built homes buyer comes in a few days before closing for a walk through.. and last  minute punch items..

Originally posted by @Jay Hinrichs :

you obviously ran into a professional tenant.. who knows the landlord tenant laws.. you will prevail I suppose .

but depends on the court.. judge may grant it he or she may not.. If they do .. just show up and argue your case.

In Oregon I got tired of this and we have eviction services.. its all they do.. and instead of hiring a lawyer by the hour.. they charge a flat fee used to be 600 or 650 bucks.. you give them a copy of the lease and they get the people out.. 

I would think lesson learned here Is never lease to someone that has not done a walk through and signed off on condition.   Kind of like when I am selling my new built homes buyer comes in a few days before closing for a walk through.. and last  minute punch items..

Agreed..regarding lesson learned, and applies more so with low income tenants. Each side on the Duplex only rents for $850 

I recently rented my SFH for $2300 to an accountant from Florida. Nothing could have been smoother than that. Uploaded video of the house on Youtube, and everything worked out just fine. But again, a different caliber client.

I should be able to argue my case just fine.  Lawyer will start from scratch. Too late for that. I have finally found a good PM after going through 2 bad ones. Next eviction, god forbid I have to have one, will not require much from me other than just a nod. 

Originally posted by @Chinmay J. :
Originally posted by @Jay Hinrichs:

you obviously ran into a professional tenant.. who knows the landlord tenant laws.. you will prevail I suppose .

but depends on the court.. judge may grant it he or she may not.. If they do .. just show up and argue your case.

In Oregon I got tired of this and we have eviction services.. its all they do.. and instead of hiring a lawyer by the hour.. they charge a flat fee used to be 600 or 650 bucks.. you give them a copy of the lease and they get the people out.. 

I would think lesson learned here Is never lease to someone that has not done a walk through and signed off on condition.   Kind of like when I am selling my new built homes buyer comes in a few days before closing for a walk through.. and last  minute punch items..

Agreed..regarding lesson learned, and applies more so with low income tenants. Each side on the Duplex only rents for $850 

I recently rented my SFH for $2300 to an accountant from Florida. Nothing could have been smoother than that. Uploaded video of the house on Youtube, and everything worked out just fine. But again, a different caliber client.

I should be able to argue my case just fine.  Lawyer will start from scratch. Too late for that. I have finally found a good PM after going through 2 bad ones. Next eviction, god forbid I have to have one, will not require much from me other than just a nod. 

 trials and tribulations of the sub 1000 a month renter.. its never ending .. never will end and will always be a roller coaster.

you can get the good one.. but generally speaking these are life long renters.. 

@Chinmay J. I’m not sure about your area but I wouldn’t say 850 is low income. To me low Income is like 600 and below. Sure you’ll have more issues with a 850 rental then 2000 plus but most 2000 plus renters won’t rent forever and they’re harder to find. All things considered you probably just had bad luck and got a professional tenant. I’m not reallt sure how you can entirely avoid it. If you do this long enough I think you’ll get one. I would use flat rate attorneys for evictions. I think mine cost like 180 to evict. Costs more for judgements, but I usually just want them out and know I’ll never get that money anyways. If you use an attorney by the hour it’ll Cost you a lot more.

I would get an attorny to file a response to her motion to reopen. In addtion to explaing basic legal stuff like her recourse is appeal not reopening, I would have him repsond point by point to her motion. Hopefuly her motion is dismissed without going to court.

Originally posted by @Caleb Heimsoth :
@Chinmay J.

I’m not sure about your area but I wouldn’t say 850 is low income. To me low Income is like 600 and below.

Sure you’ll have more issues with a 850 rental then 2000 plus but most 2000 plus renters won’t rent forever and they’re harder to find.

All things considered you probably just had bad luck and got a professional tenant. I’m not reallt sure how you can entirely avoid it. If you do this long enough I think you’ll get one.

I would use flat rate attorneys for evictions. I think mine cost like 180 to evict. Costs more for judgements, but I usually just want them out and know I’ll never get that money anyways.

If you use an attorney by the hour it’ll Cost you a lot more.

 The Fair Market Value is about $700, but with Sec 8, I am able to rent out each side by significantly higher rent.  There is no way I could have avoided this thing.. She was so nice to everyone. Very sweet lady in the beginning. She must have left her medications back in NY.  Its like a crazy ex gf.. I could crack some jokes right now, but probably not an appropriate forum.. LOL.  

I have filed eviction paperwork before. I know all the rules and laws in VA. Its just the distance that's killing me. Haven't to go back leaving work takes a whole day.

No way to avoid this completely. She was first screened by my PM and then by me. Everything checked out just fine. 

Originally posted by @Ned Carey :

I would get an attorny to file a response to her motion to reopen. In addtion to explaing basic legal stuff like her recourse is appeal not reopening, I would have him repsond point by point to her motion. Hopefuly her motion is dismissed without going to court.

 That's a good suggestion @Ned Carey. I will look into Richmond area attorneys. 

I don't think it's a bad screening or something else - it's a professional tenant, every landlord nightmare.

I did accept a tenant once without site seeing, she sent her friend and FaceTime with her walking through. Then she signed the lease via DotLoop and sent security deposit and first month rent via CashApp - just to secure the house. Never heard any complains which were not justified. 

Amazing tenant and I pray she'd stay after her 2-year lease expired.

I guess, once in a blue moon you'll stack with such a tenant and it gonna cost you.....well, that's your expenses of doing business. No lesson learned - everything was perfectly done but ooops...something went wrong. That's why such people called "professional Tenants"

Originally posted by @Irina Belkofer :

I don't think it's a bad screening or something else - it's a professional tenant, every landlord nightmare.

I did accept a tenant once without site seeing, she sent her friend and FaceTime with her walking through. Then she signed the lease via DotLoop and sent security deposit and first month rent via CashApp - just to secure the house. Never heard any complains which were not justified. 

Amazing tenant and I pray she'd stay after her 2-year lease expired.

I guess, once in a blue moon you'll stack with such a tenant and it gonna cost you.....well, that's your expenses of doing business. No lesson learned - everything was perfectly done but ooops...something went wrong. That's why such people called "professional Tenants"

 Thanks for your input.. The only reason I said Lesson Learned was there were other interested candidates to choose from. People local in Richmond, who had live there the entire life. People who had come and seen the place. Who knew the city well. In retrospect, I should have chosen someone like that, over an out of state tenant who had never seen the property or had anyone come and see it for them either. They were strictly going based on pictures. 

@Chinmay J. Reach out to Sean Tluchak. He’s a lawyer that my former employer would use for our evictions. He owns his own firm in Richmond so he knows the judges and laws in the area. Good luck! Keep us updated.
Originally posted by @Amy H. :
@Chinmay J. Reach out to Sean Tluchak. He’s a lawyer that my former employer would use for our evictions. He owns his own firm in Richmond so he knows the judges and laws in the area. Good luck! Keep us updated.

 Yes, he is renowned Attorney in Richmond area. Will reach out to him on Monday. 

Originally posted by @Chinmay J. :There is no way I could have avoided this thing.. She was so nice to everyone.

 I disagree a bit.  You could have screened better.  You could have insisted she view the place before you signed a lease with her.  I never sign a lease any more without the actual tenant visiting the property and inspecting it.  I did it once two years ago and learned my lesson about that.  Her parents facetimed her and walked around the house.  They love it and the neighborhood.  The young woman and her boyfriend, not so much.  They were a complaining pair of ingrates until I finally let them out of the lease and moved in new tenants the next week.

Bottom line, you (or your PM) rushed things and cut corners.  You paid the price this time.  Next time, don't allow an applicant to sign the lease until they have seen the property in person.  That also gives you (or your PM) a chance to spend a little time with the applicant to figure out if she might be a little off.  

Good luck in court.

Wow...I wish here in Cook County (Chicago) our court system would be this accessible where you could simply call into the clerk to say you were late or fax in personal requests to the judge.

Here, defendants get 30 days to vacate a default judgement [almost] without question. The silliest excuse, if even requested, usually passes. I had a civil case reopened after a motion was filed by the defaulting party on day 29, and the judge said its the defendant's right to do so no matter my inconvenience/cost.

At this point, I'd ask your attorney more for a timeline vs. anything else. It sounds like you are in the right, but unfortunately you'll have to go through every step to get there. Hopefully a bond is required to be filed if your tenant decides to appeal, which for a professional tenant will be her likely next move after requesting a jury trial and losing.

Originally posted by @Randy E. :
Originally posted by @Chinmay J.:There is no way I could have avoided this thing.. She was so nice to everyone.

 I disagree a bit.  You could have screened better.  You could have insisted she view the place before you signed a lease with her.  I never sign a lease any more without the actual tenant visiting the property and inspecting it.  I did it once two years ago and learned my lesson about that.  Her parents facetimed her and walked around the house.  They love it and the neighborhood.  The young woman and her boyfriend, not so much.  They were a complaining pair of ingrates until I finally let them out of the lease and moved in new tenants the next week.

Bottom line, you (or your PM) rushed things and cut corners.  You paid the price this time.  Next time, don't allow an applicant to sign the lease until they have seen the property in person.  That also gives you (or your PM) a chance to spend a little time with the applicant to figure out if she might be a little off.  

Good luck in court.

I disagree with this. Professional tenants know how to play the game. They normally don't have an eviction history because everything gets erased through "settlements" when the previously screwed landlords get tired of spending $5k+ to try to get them out and recover $800 in rent. Then they move on and do the same to the next landlord. In tenant friendly jurisdictions like Chicago, they target mom/pop owners who don't know the laws to statutorily screw them - The landlord can either pay the tenant $1k to settle and give them 60 days to move out along with a good reference, or they can pay $3k + $8k legal fees for a simple error. And that process takes 6+ months sometimes. 

Originally posted by @Matthew Olszak :

Wow...I wish here in Cook County (Chicago) our court system would be this accessible where you could simply call into the clerk to say you were late or fax in personal requests to the judge.

Here, defendants get 30 days to vacate a default judgement [almost] without question. The silliest excuse, if even requested, usually passes. I had a civil case reopened after a motion was filed by the defaulting party on day 29, and the judge said its the defendant's right to do so no matter my inconvenience/cost.

At this point, I'd ask your attorney more for a timeline vs. anything else. It sounds like you are in the right, but unfortunately you'll have to go through every step to get there. Hopefully a bond is required to be filed if your tenant decides to appeal, which for a professional tenant will be her likely next move after requesting a jury trial and losing.

 You are correct about the appeal..... Here is the pertinent law.. 

§ 8.01-129. Appeal from judgment of general district court.

A. An appeal shall lie from the judgment of a general district court, in any proceeding under this article, to the circuit court in the same manner and with like effect and upon like security as appeals taken under the provisions of § 16.1-106 et seq. except as specifically provided in this section. The appeal shall be taken within 10 days and the security approved by the court from which the appeal is taken. Notwithstanding the provisions of § 16.1-106 et seq., the bond shall be posted and the writ tax paid within 10 days of the date of the judgment.

B. In any unlawful detainer case filed under § 8.01-126, if a judge grants the plaintiff a judgment for possession of the premises, upon request of the plaintiff, the judge shall further order that the writ issue immediately upon entry of judgment for possession. In such case, the clerk shall deliver the writ to the sheriff, who shall then, at least 72 hours prior to execution of such writ, serve notice of intent to execute the writ, including the date and time of eviction, as provided in § 8.01-470. In no case, however, shall the sheriff evict the defendant from the dwelling unit prior to the expiration of the defendant's 10-day appeal period. If the defendant perfects an appeal, the sheriff shall return the writ to the clerk who issued it.

When the appeal is taken by the defendant, he shall be required to give security also for all rent which has accrued and may accrue upon the premises, but for not more than one year's rent, and also for all damages that have accrued or may accrue from the unlawful use and occupation of the premises for a period not exceeding three months. Trial by jury shall be had upon application of any party.

Originally posted by @Steve B. :
@Chinmay J. Did this person pass a credit check?

Credit Score 610

Section 8 (70% paid by the County - 30% paid by her)

Monthly Income from SS - $1500

No prior evictions. No criminal record. 

Originally posted by @Chinmay J. :
Originally posted by @Steve B.:
@Chinmay J. Did this person pass a credit check?

Credit Score 610

Section 8 (70% paid by the County - 30% paid by her)

Monthly Income from SS - $1500

No prior evictions. No criminal record. 

 got to love our country   !!!

Originally posted by @Jay Hinrichs   
Originally posted by @Chinmay J.:
Originally posted by @Steve B.:
@Chinmay J. Did this person pass a credit check?

Credit Score 610

Section 8 (70% paid by the County - 30% paid by her)

Monthly Income from SS - $1500

No prior evictions. No criminal record. 

 got to love our country   !!!

 Here is the fun part.  She would not sign off on the HAP (short for Housing Assistance Program) contract with the county. So the county wouldn't pay me either.  Now, as a result of this, what has ended up happening is that she has been kicked out of the Voucher program. How can someone be so suicidal is what befuddles me. 

Originally posted by @Chinmay J. :
Originally posted by @Jay Hinrichs  
Originally posted by @Chinmay J.:
Originally posted by @Steve B.:
@Chinmay J. Did this person pass a credit check?

Credit Score 610

Section 8 (70% paid by the County - 30% paid by her)

Monthly Income from SS - $1500

No prior evictions. No criminal record. 

 got to love our country   !!!

 Here is the fun part.  She would not sign off on the HAP (short for Housing Assistance Program) contract with the county. So the county wouldn't pay me either.  Now, as a result of this, what has ended up happening is that she has been kicked out of the Voucher program. How can someone be so suicidal is what befuddles me. 

this is one of the biggest misnomers running these days were investors think Section 8 is guaranteed money .. it is if the house and the tenant plays nice.. these folks get kicked off the program for all sorts of reasons.. usually for fibbing.. not just refusing to sign..

this is classic your section 8 tenant gets kicked off you get no rent now you have to kick her out and her kids which usually leeds to eviction etc.. there went the cash flow for one to two years..  it sucks.. I know..  

Originally posted by @Jay Hinrichs :
Originally posted by @Chinmay J.:
Originally posted by @Jay Hinrichs  
Originally posted by @Chinmay J.:
Originally posted by @Steve B.:
@Chinmay J. Did this person pass a credit check?

Credit Score 610

Section 8 (70% paid by the County - 30% paid by her)

Monthly Income from SS - $1500

No prior evictions. No criminal record. 

 got to love our country   !!!

 Here is the fun part.  She would not sign off on the HAP (short for Housing Assistance Program) contract with the county. So the county wouldn't pay me either.  Now, as a result of this, what has ended up happening is that she has been kicked out of the Voucher program. How can someone be so suicidal is what befuddles me. 

this is one of the biggest misnomers running these days were investors think Section 8 is guaranteed money .. it is if the house and the tenant plays nice.. these folks get kicked off the program for all sorts of reasons.. usually for fibbing.. not just refusing to sign..

this is classic your section 8 tenant gets kicked off you get no rent now you have to kick her out and her kids which usually leeds to eviction etc.. there went the cash flow for one to two years..  it sucks.. I know..  

  I am just treading water now with that Multiplex. Only thing saving keeping me afloat is the fact that other units are working w/o a hitch like clockwork, and there haven't been any big maintenance bills. 

@Chinmay J.

I feel your pain brother.....I almost had the exact same thing happen to me. The woman's initials don't happen to be G.W. do they?   Everything checked out on her background.....showed her lots of pictures, told her we strongly prefer you see the place first....my PM tells her the same thing....she's blowing up my email and phone saying I'm originally from that are....I'm OK with giving you a NON REFUNDABLE DEPOSIT to hold the place for me, and if I don't like it when I see it in person you can keep the deposit,....etc.  My sixth sense said DO NOT take her deposit beforehand even though she wanted to wire it to me.....so I didn't. Told her we'd wait until she saw the place and IF she still wanted to rent it after seeing it then we would accept her non-refundable deposit.    

She was catching Greyhound (Red Flag?...maybe, maybe not) and coming from out of state,....she arrives....but has no way to get to her hotel (red flag) so a person who works for my PM volunteers to go pick her up at the bus station and drive her to her hotel. I told him you really shouldn't do that as this will set a weird precedent.   Then he tells me her will come pick her up the next day and drive her to the property as well. I reminded him that Lyft and Uber are in Cleveland, as well as taxi cabs......and you do not need to do this.     He does so anyways.

He takes her to the property.  She sees it inside and out, says she likes it...and as she hands my PM the deposit money and also the first month's rent she requests a couple of very very very minor things.

My PM says he will take care of it within 48 hours....nothing major, and gives her the keys, and drops her back off at her hotel. 

Later that day she starts moving in.......(Hmm, now you magically have a way to get back and forth)...........and she does her 180.......essentially starts demanding all kinds of things that are totally unreasonable and plays the "I'm a tenant now, I gave you the deposit and the first month's rent!" game and is blowing up my PM's phone and email as well as mine.

After One and a half days of this I tell my PM let's get her out of there NOW. Tell her we do NOT want her as a tenant, and we will give her the first month's rent back and IF the property is still in the same condition when she gets her things out then we will also give her the non-refundable deposit back in full.   

She was starting to have "professional tenant" written all over her and luckily we smelled it before things got to far along. 

Sorry, Chinmay I digressed for a moment.  I would think that if your "tenant" didn't show up for the court date then the ruling would stay in your favor?  That's how it is in Cleveland where I have some rentals and that's how it also is here in the San Francisco Bay Area where i have some rentals. The Bay Area I thought was one of the most TENANT friendly areas of the country so I'd be shocked if in Virginia they would let this sort of foolishness go on man.

In any case...keep your head up because I have to believe that when/if this gets before a judge again, they will look at the whole case.....including when she did not show up the first time and essentially wasted the court's time.

Stay strong man...it will work out OK.