Unfortunately, our relationship with landlord-tenant clients often begins after they have previously brought an action to evict a tenant and have achieved an undesirable result.
It is not uncommon that these clients have to pursue evictions only once in a great while. So, it is completely understandable that the nuances of the process become hurdles to a successful result. It also common that the emotions involved in being so close to a conflict hinder desired results.
This blog will provide 4 tips to help avoid an undesirable landlord-tenant eviction result.
You will want to first consider whether you sent the tenant(s) the correct non-defective notice. A defective notice will likely result in an immediate dismissal. Please feel free to review our previous blog on notice strategy. You will also want to consider any necessity for using an attorney if the property is held in an LLC.
When filing the case, be sure to select the correct documents, with the appropriate number of copies, and have them sent to the court of proper jurisdiction. We will be publishing an upcoming blog on the filing process itself, so stay tuned.
Most Landlord-Tenant hearings these days happen via Zoom. As a result, there is a general feeling that the process is more laid back. However, many judges will get upset when someone shows up unprepared or looking less than professional.
In addition, most judges do not want the parties to quibble. Refusing to interrupt the other party, and generally taking the high road, will usually lead to more positive results. It is not that you cannot dispute the other party’s position, but be very selective. Think about what they will argue in advance and be prepared with as concise a rebuttal as possible. For instance, I will often say, “Your Honor, my client disputes the allegations claimed by Defendant.” And, I will then concisely state my supporting facts and any applicable supporting law.
It is usually the best policy to let the judge fully finish what they are saying before speaking, to answer questions presented by the judge clearly and concisely, and to present your facts – as limited as they are at the summary proceeding stage – in a clear and concise manner. A professional humility goes a long way with most judges. Perceived arrogance, on the other hand, can be fatal to your case.
If a tenant does not show, be prepared to submit proofs on the record required by law to obtain a default judgment. We will publish a follow up blog that provides more detail on providing proofs, so be sure to check back soon.
You will then ask for what you want. “Your Honor, I respectfully request a default judgment based on (fill in the blank)”. Resist the urge to argue with the judge as they make any follow up statements. When they are finished, clarification questions can be helpful. For instance, “I don’t mean to be argumentative, Your Honor, but I am not sure I heard a lawful reason for the Defendant to avoid termination of their tenancy in a month-to-month rental relationship. What might I be missing?” And, try to say anything of this nature as sincerely as you can even though the temptation may be otherwise.
Finally, make sure that any follow up paperwork is filed timely. For example, you should contact the court clerk to determine whether you will need to prepare a judgment pre or post hearing and how they would like that judgment to be provided to them. You will also want to be sure that you have your process lined up for physically moving the tenant if necessary. Please review a previous blog for a discussion on the process of physically removing any remaining parties and their belongings.
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