Eviction Lawyers Work for Tenants, Too

It may come as a surprise to a landlord when they discover that their deadbeat tenant lawyered-up to fight the eviction.

Eviction lawyers don’t just work for landlords; some work for tenants, too.  When they do, they can make the eviction process a long and expensive journey.

What does an eviction lawyer tell a tenant who is falling behind on rent or facing an eviction?

“The landlord cannot evict you unless they give you proper notice.” The lawyer for the tenant will be scrutinizing the notice to make sure it is complete and follows the letter of the law in every way, including the way it is served.  It must provide for the right number of days notice. They also check for mistakes with the tenant’s name, and whether all tenants are named.

“You can reduce what you owe if the landlord didn’t keep up the property.” The tenant will start a list of things that are wrong with the property in an attempt to reduce the judgment the landlord may claim. Tenants, like a New York City man who was attacked by bed bugs but didn’t complain until after he fell behind in rent, have been successful in tipping the scales in their favor. The offset can be more than what the tenant owes the landlord, and the landlord ends up paying the tenant.

“Don’t rush to move — you’ve got some time.” By contesting the eviction, the tenant’s attorney can drag out the process long enough for the tenant to save up some money and get another place, while living rent-free. Until that order for possession comes through, the tenant has the right of possession, and the landlord can’t lock them out, or move their personal items out of the rental property.

Be prepared in case of an eviction.  File a notice right away in order to get the time lines ticking.  Keep good documentation —  including repair requests and communications with the tenant — accessible and well-organized in case you need it in a hurry.  Finally, enlist legal help if you need it to get the job done efficiently to keep vacancies to a minimum.

With AAOA, landlords have resources at their fingertips. Check out our Landlord Forms page.

American Apartment Owners Association offers discounts on products and services for landlords related to your rental housing investment, including rental forms, tenant debt collection, tenant background checks, insurance and financing. Find out more at www.joinaaoa.org.