If you have owned rental property long enough, one day you will have to evict a tenant. Most amateur landlords dread this day primarily because they do not understand the process.
I am sure that David Berry never evicted a tenant, monument aside you need to be ready.
I was in an Atlanta metropolitan court room this past Monday to evict a tenant for not paying June rent. I was in court about one month after her June rent was due. Do not delay this process, at the earliest it will be about 30 days from late rent to court.
There were 90 cases being heard, standing room only. The events that occur during court are as follows:
1) Call the Calendar
The judge will announce the Plaintiff and Defendant. When you hear your name, let the judge know are present. Cases where the other party is not present usually are dismissed in favor of the person in the courtroom.
2) Parties attempt to settle
The parties typically go outside the courtroom and try to settle the case. The majority of cases are disposed of in this fashion. My case was not. The defendant was obstinate and did not want to settle, so we went to trial.
3) Settled Cases heard
4) Trial Cases Heard
If you are a landlord and have never experienced this process, take a day and go down to the court in the jurisdiction of your rental property and watch the proceedings.
Individuals can do their own evictions IF they know what to expect and understand the process. If you do NOT know the process, please hire an attorney.
A number of folks came to me with questions. They all thought I was an attorney because I was wearing a suit. No one else dressed the part. Be professional and dress appropriately.
One amateur landlord lost $10,000 that day in court. How, you ask?
He listened to excuses from his tenant for ten months and finally filed AFTER TEN Months without the aid of an attorney. He neglected to put in a dollar amount of monies due him.
He won his case however the judge did not award damages because none were listed.
Be prepared, start the eviction process on day one and hire a professional if you are uncomfortable with the process.
Have all documentation with you… copies of all pertinent emails, text messages, invoices and most important… understand your lease.
I was asking for monetary damages which included:
1) Late Fees – Paragraph 3 of my lease
2) Legal Notice Fees – Paragraph 28 of my lease
3) Court Costs – Paragraph 18 of my lease
4) Utilities Reimbursement – Paragraph 20 of my lease
Be prepared to show the judge what you are asking for is in your lease. I was prepared, had all my documentation and was awarded damages for 100% of what I was asking for.
In Georgia, tenants are given seven days to vacate the property. If they are still in the property after seven days you can get a writ of possession and move their belongings to the curb. This is commonly referred to as a forced eviction.
I will talk more about that in my next blog.