Do I need a lawyer to evict a tenant?
In short, Yes. Let me tell you why:
Recently, a client came into my office seeking to evict a tenant. Well, at least he thought he had a tenant.
You see, my client rented an apartment to a friend’s daughter. His friend’s daughter was the only individual named in the lease. During the time of the lease, the daughter’s boyfriend began to stay in the apartment. No one ever advised my client that the boyfriend was living in the apartment. When the lease ended in September, his friend’s daughter did not want to renew the lease and moved out of the apartment.
After the daughter moved out, my client went into the apartment to inspect it and start making necessary repairs. The next day, my client was contacted by the local police and advised that a complaint for trespass was filed against him for entering into the apartment. My client soon learned that the daughter’s boyfriend never left the apartment and the boyfriend filed criminal charges against my client.
While fighting the criminal charges, my client sought an eviction without a lawyer. Even though the eviction was not contested by the boyfriend, the Court denied the eviction. By this time, it was December. So my client had not received any income from the apartment for three months.
My client then filed another complaint for eviction and named the boyfriend in the eviction complaint. Again, the judge denied the eviction. By this time, it was February. My client was out-of-pocket another two months of rent.
Finally, my client decided to speak with a lawyer.
When my client met with me, I advised my client that the Judge denied the eviction because the Court had no “standing” over the boyfriend. To put it simply: Since the boyfriend was not named in the lease agreement, the Court had no control over him. In these instances, a special action for “ejection” has to be commenced — not a complaint for eviction. An ejection is the legal term for the process to “eject” a person from a property who does not belong there.
I quickly filed the proper paperwork and the Court ordered that the boyfriend immediately vacate the apartment. Today, the boyfriend is no longer in the apartment. I was also able to get all criminal charges dismissed against my client.
The Moral of the Story: Get legal advice before you decide to pursue a landlord-tenant case without a lawyer. Landlord-tenant laws are complex and impose numerous responsibilities on landlords. In my client’s case, he did not know that a different type of complaint had to be filed with the Court because he never consulted an attorney. As a result, my client lost over six months of rental income. To discuss your landlord-tenant matter, please feel free to contact us at any one of our four convenient locations.