Over the past 3 decades of practice, I have represented numerous Landlords seeking to collect past-due rent and evict bad tenants. A Landlord can save valuable time and money by following some prudent practices:
1. Use a Rental Application Form.
2. Collect identifying information about prospective Tenants, including name, birth date and social security number.
3. Verify employment or sources from which to pay the Rent.
4. Run a credit report to determine any history of bad debts, especially lawsuits, judgments and evictions by former Landlords.
5. Use a written Lease that specifies the parties to the Lease agreement, the names of the permitted Tenants, the term of the Lease, the amount and due date for payment of Rent, when Late Fees are added, how Security Deposits and refunds are handled, who is responsible for utilities and maintenance, what Uses are permitted and not permitted, and the Landlord’s remedies in the event of Default or non-payment of Rent by the Tenant, including liability for costs of collection, including Court Costs and Attorney’s Fees.
6. Make sure the Lease is signed and dated by all parties and provide a copy to the Tenant.
7. In the event of non-payment of Rent, promptly serve a Five-Day Notice.
8. In the event of a violation of terms of the lease, including unlawful or unpermitted use or occupancy of the property, promptly serve a Ten-Day Notice.
9. If, after 5 days, the Rent is not paid, or if after 10 days, the violation is not corrected, and other arrangements cannot be agreed upon, hire an attorney to collect the unpaid Rent and obtain a court order returning the right to exclusive legal Possession of the property to the Landlord.
10. After a judgment for Rent & Possession, don’t permit the Tenant(s) to remain in the rental unit beyond the “Stay of Enforcement” date.
Even if all of the above steps are diligently followed, getting rid of a bad tenant can sometimes drag on for many months. I’ve seen tenants barricade themselves in the apartment, run electric cords to a neighbor’s apartment, refuse to answer the door for the Sheriff or Process Server, or lie about their identity or the whereabouts of other tenants. Other bad tenants may fabricate claims of accidental injury on the property and deliberately leave faucets running to flood the property, permit unknown persons to live with them, or conduct criminal activities on the premises.
This reprehensible conduct may lead to criminal charges or provide grounds for a lawsuit. Martucci Law has the experience and tenacity to help rid you of your bad Tenants in order to make room for verifiably good Tenants.