Friday, August 11, 2006

Denied.

The judge denied my tenant's Order to Show Cause.


Unlike last time, we had a courtroom all to ourselves. As of 9:15, the tenant did no show up. The judge was already seated, my lawyer was already on the speaker phone, and I was seated at the plaintiff's bench. As the judge was researching whether or not the tenants were served, my tenant and her child walked in (18 minutes late).


The judge invited her to her bench and swore us both in. His first question was directed to the tenant, asking her why the court should grant her request. Her points were, mainly:


  • She does not have a job, and her boyfriend (who is also on the lease, but has not showed up for either court session) was "out of work for a month".
  • They had to pay off other fees, including tickets and "a warrant to keep him out of jail"
  • The remainder of their money went towards the security deposit of their new apartment, which they will start renting Sept. 1st. Until then, they have nowhere to live.
  • She "is receiving $30k" in a settlement in about 2 weeks. The money will be directly deposited into her account.


When she was finished, the lawyer asked her for the name of her lawyer who was handling the settlement. She couldn't name one. He then asked her for the name of the lawyer that was representing the other side, she couldn't name one.


Then, my lawyer asked if he could respond to her points. He said:


  • My client has been more than patient with the tenants. He sent them notice regarding the dogs before I became involved, after which I sent them formal notice.

  • Her dogs are vicious and dangerous. The neighbors are scared, and if left in the unit could very well hurt somebody.
  • My client's water bill has been four times the normal cost since they moved in. I'm afraid that they've maliciously left it on since moving in.
  • They have been completely incommunicado, unresponsive to my client's inquiries until "judgment day" is imminent, at which point they suddenly are interested
  • I ask the court not to interfere with my client's legal rights, when he's been toocompassionate and they've made no effort to remedy the situation.


At this point, the judge made his decision. His points were:


  • If they were really getting the settlement, there are many places they could go with the judgment to get an advance (if they could prove that they're going to get the money). Why haven't they made an effort?
  • These dogs are dangerous, and they've made no effort to temporarily move them somewhere else.
  • The water situation is troubling. Are the tenants just running the water? At this point the tenant interjected that this was the first time she had heard about the water. In fact, I had told her boyfriend multiple times about it. There is no evidence of leaks, he simply said "the faucet drips", even though it has been replaced.


There was a back and forth about how she had nowhere to go. The judge asked her if she had family in the area, she nodded. Then he announced that he was denying her request. She quickly got up and left, with her daughter. The lawyer hung up, and the judge excused us.


Obviously, I was pleased with the verdict. I can not imagine that it would have ended any other way. They've made absolutely no attempt to pay their rent, or to keep me up to date on their situation. This has been a learning experience, and now I know several things to look out for. First and foremost, I am going to run criminal and credit checks before signing the lease next time.


Now, I just have to wait until Tuesday at noon, at which point I will inspect the apartment. My lawyer recommended bringing a digital camera and video camera, in case there are problems we can use that later (pressing criminal and/or civil charges).


More wait.

5 comments:

Phillip said...

Interesting read; thanks for the time posting this. :)

prlinkbiz said...

You know who I really feel bad for in all this? That little girl. You are doing the right thing- but it must stink for her to be living in that environment.

Rick said...

prlinkbiz, I agree with you completely.

First of all, her parents have her living with these two dangerous dogs, which shows you how thoughtful and protective they are.

Secondly, it is horrible that her mother is using her as a tool in trying to prolong this process. What is this teaching the little girl?

Unfortunately, there is nothing that I can do to help the little girl. Even if I were to let them live there for free, the young girl will still grow up in that environment and learn that you should try to "beat the system" and have to struggle to stay out of jail.

Thank you very much for the comment.

prlinkbiz said...

I completely agree with you- you are totally doing the right thing. This is exactly the kind of thing that keep s a lot of investors away from multi family. My goal personally is to acquire larger multi family complexes, so it's good to prepare for the 'nature of the beast'!
(PS- I foudn your page through Anesia- I have a couple blogs incuding www.prlinkbiz.typepad.com/rei_link )

Anonymous said...

I'm reading these in reverse order, so please excuse me for doing this backward.

Always, always, always, spend the $80 (or so) for a credit and criminal check. Always require and call references. If they are a nightmare tenant, the landlord won't tell you because they're ecstatic the people are leaving. On the other hand, a short hesitation before they say "Oh, a wonderful tenant, sorry to lose them!" should speak volumes.

I recently learned that spending 10 minutes checking with the civil court system is time well spent. I have a tenant complaining about mold in a unit that had no mold before. Turns out they are suing their prior landlord for... mold in the unit. Taking a few minutes to run their name through the court system would save me the hassle and the money I'm spending to move them out and secure a waiver.

Be as compassionate as you can afford to be, but remember that the tenants receive a clean, safe place to live in exchange for rent. Presumably you are doing this to earn money, not provide a crash pad for everyone who needs it. I hate to sound so cold hearted -- because I'm not -- but their bad choices must never become my problems.

Best of luck, and good recognition of lessons learned.