By Brad Kraus
Attorney, Warren Allen LLP
Imagine you entered a relay race, competing with one other team for a prize you desire. You’ve ran hard, persevered, but rather than cross the finish line and prevail, you decide to throw your baton backwards. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it?
Some Landlord/Tenant disputes can feel like grueling marathon races, with eviction actions denoting the finish line. Successful landlords cross the finish line first by avoiding mistakes in the lead up period. Many Landlords stumble during the race or right before they are set to cross the finish line, often due to inexperience or a lack of knowledge of the procedures involved.
Two common landlord mistakes
Two common mistakes often befall landlords: (a) service of notices at improper times, and (b) actions taken which undermine the Landlord’s position of strength in an eviction case. For example, I’ve seen many landlords serve termination notices after they’ve already terminated tenancies or when termination dates are rapidly approaching. The latter termination notices can unnecessarily extend the finish line by shifting termination dates out into the future.
Assuming the Landlord does the right thing and files an eviction action on the uncured 72-Hour Notice, a court-enforceable Stipulated Agreement within this process provides the Landlord with the strongest rights. The Landlord can dictate the terms of the Agreement from both a fiscal prospective, but also with provisions related to conduct. If the Tenant fails to comply with the terms, a Declaration of Noncompliance can be filed, and the tenancy can be terminated through the courts.
Another common Landlord misstep involves actions that undermine rock solid Stipulated Agreements in FED actions. For example, some Landlords—with a court-enforceable agreement in hand—unknowingly serve Notices for tenant defaults of that very court-enforceable Stipulated Agreement. If the Notice of Termination extends or waives the Agreement’s deadlines, the landlord again shifts the finish line and makes the race unnecessarily harder. These Landlords ran the race . . . but failed to cross the finish line.
Being a Landlord can feel like a rat-race in and of itself. It’s rarely easy, and troublesome tenants make it harder.
The best landlords are constantly “training.” They update their legal knowledge, keep their forms current, and optimize their termination and eviction strategies, whenever the occasion calls.
At the same time, they don’t trip themselves up. Successful landlords understand the marathon nature of some landlord/tenant disputes and adhere to strategies that ensure their position at the finish line. With troublesome tenants, your goal should always be to position yourself favorably within the confines of the eviction statutes. Within that setting, if the Tenant fails to perform as required, finishing the race is easy. However, it’s important to cross the finish line with your baton . . . rather than throw said baton (i.e. your rights/remedies) into the river.