I observed that it has been a while since I post an article on this platform due to a little project of mine which am yet to finish, I wrote a book titled Demystifying Real Estate Investing and the book is on how anyone can invest in real estate with remarkable aplomb applying the principle of purpose-driven real estate investing, some level of creativity, innovations and essential skill-set required for real estate investing success. I don’t want to go into details now because a lot still need to be done regarding publishing, marketing and advertising of the book to make it a success and of course getting it to the right people and getting reviews for the book.
However, today I have decided to complete the series on eviction cases which lead us to the second eviction case tenants might have with their property owners which of course is the non-payment eviction case. The last time out or not too long ago we discussed how to tactfully tackle holdover eviction case and now we shall be focusing on how to confidently and successfully handle non-payment eviction case.
The Non-payment eviction case happens to be the most common eviction case any tenant might have to deal with for failure to meet up with rent payment, irregular or late payment of rent as opposed to the terms of the lease contract agreement.
This usually stems from not running background check on prospective tenants, improper and inadequate tenant screening and selection process prior to qualifying tenants for apartment. Also offering tenants who are not willing or able to pay rent, with no source of income or verifiable source of income apartment without verifying their previous rental history from their previous landlord.
Most property owners particularly inexperience real estate agents are guilty of this act. They lose control of their senses at the moment of receiving the initial or first year rent payment from the tenant. It makes them smile and this is when you see them nodding their heads and rubbing their hands in glee as they think of the money they would make for filling up a vacant apartment thereby causing the property owner future unexpected cost, unnecessary expenses and other liability such tenants might create for the property owner.
On the other hand, tenants who find it difficult to pay their rent due to circumstances beyond their control such as lost of job, payments of children school fees, unexpected expenses and other unfortunate circumstances risk being evicted from their apartment through a legal proceeding in the court of law by their property owner.
However, If you are confused, disoriented about what to do when a non-payment eviction case is filed against you in the court of law then this article is specifically designed for you, it addresses the issues and process of non-payment eviction case and it clearly delineates in details the roles and obligations of property owners and tenants involved in a non-payment eviction case. Let’s dive into what non-payment eviction case is and how we can tactfully and successfully handle it.
A Non-payment Eviction Case is one of the two major common eviction cases property owners bring against their tenants in the court of law for non-payment of amount owed in rent as agreed in the lease contract agreement.
Basically, property owners file non-payment eviction case against their tenants claiming that they owe rent and asking the court to either order them to pay in full the rent owed or to evict them if they can’t pay the rent owed.
This act does not automatically mean that the tenant will be evicted from the apartment by the court but rather a call to action and an opportunity for the tenant to tell the court the reasons for not paying rent, for making irregular or late payment of rent as opposed to the terms on the lease contract agreement.
The court will be more than willing to welcome any evidence of payment to allow such tenants to exercise their right to dispute the property owner’s claims provided the tenant can present any or give good reasons for withholding rent to dispute those claims in court.
I want to reiterate that non-payment eviction case proceeding does not imply that the tenant must let go or surrender the apartment. I must also emphasized that the property owner is obligated to accept rent if the tenant eventually pays the rent owed.
Be that as it may, a non-payment eviction case usually begins with the property owner first demanding the rent from the defaulting tenant verbally or in form of a written rent demand notice. If after satisfying this mandatory rent demand notice and gets no response from the tenant, then the property owner can proceed to file papers in court to commence non-payment eviction case proceedings.
These court papers are referred to as notice of petition informing the tenant of a non-payment eviction case filed in court against him or her and it must be properly served on the tenant either by mail, hand, taped or slide under the tenant’s door by someone who is definitely not part of the case and who must be eighteen years of age or above.
If you are confused and disoriented for receiving a non-payment eviction case petition from a court of law and you find it difficult and tough making decisions here is a piece of advice for you on how to handle such petition.
When you receive or served a non-payment eviction case petition in any of the ways highlighted above then the sender or the petitioner has met with the provisions of the law on how such notice should be delivered to you and you have five days to answer the petition.
In your response to the petition you must clearly state the reasons for owing rent or give defenses for with-holding rent and at this point you need to carefully study the answers form to ensure that all your defenses are marked and also you must make sure that the clerk of the court note your defenses on the form that will be handed over to you which will show the room number where the case would be heard, the date and time.
But if you can’t answer the petition, you should try speak with the clerk of the court for assistance because the court only accept answers from the person named in the petition and of course there are special procedures you as the tenant may need to follow to answer the petition.
As earlier mentioned previously in this post that if a tenant can dispute the property owner’s claims in court by showing evidence of payment or give reasons in form of a defense stating why the property owner should not get some or all of the rent he or she claims the tenant owes.
The tenants are obligated to notify the clerk of the court of all defenses that apply to their case when answering the petition and here are some defenses in a non-payment eviction case as it applies to the rent, how the court papers were served or delivered, the apartment and the parties involved.
As a tenant you may have a defense if you try to pay your rent and your property owner refuses rent or did not demand rent from you verbally or in writing prior to commencing the non-payment eviction case. Also when you are not in agreement with rent amount stated as being owed in the petition or you feel you pay too much in rent and believe the property owner owes you money instead.
Interestingly the method and manner in which the court papers are delivered or served on you is also another defense the court usually does not see as trivial in non-payment eviction case proceedings. The papers must be delivered in accordance with the provisions of the law of the state, so court papers not properly delivered or served on you can be a good defense.
The refusal of property owner to make repairs in the building or if the property or building has no certificate of occupancy can also be some sought of defenses in non-payment eviction case.
What can also be a defense for tenants in a non-payment eviction case is error in the court papers served on the tenant, If it has someone else’s name on it or the tenant’s name is not spelt correctly and also if the management company or the person who brought the tenant to court is not the property owner.
In addition to the defenses shared above, If a tenant pays for repairs or services that the property owner should have paid for or the tenant’s belongings got damaged due to owners failure to make repairs of leaking roof in the apartment then such tenant can use this as a defense in non-payment eviction case proceedings.
At this junction, I want to walk you arm in arm through the process involved in non-payment eviction case proceedings and how you can successfully handle it.
If you have made up your mind to attend the court proceedings to exercise your right to dispute the claims of the property owner. I will strongly advise you to put together all payment receipts and original copies of all relevant documents that can prove any of your defenses.
If you have been at logger-heads previously with your landlord or property owner over repairs and maintenance in the building. It will be wise to bring along violation report as well as photos or other proof to show previous violation complaint by you or other occupants in the building.
Just like the popular saying, punctuality is the soul of business, it makes a whole lot of sense to arrive early in court on the day of the hearing of your case. It gives you enough time to see who ever you need to see in court before the hearing of your case commences and it also enables you to check in to the assigned court room on time.
The good thing is no one can force you to proceed with the case in court that same day so if you are not comfortable proceeding with the case alone or you feel you need to consult a solicitor for legal advice or seek professional advice you can ask the court for adjournment.
But, If you are ready and willing to fight the case the same day and you have decided to proceed with the case, then you will be assigned to a resolution part where all parties involved in the case, that is you as the tenant, the property owner and probably the owner’s lawyer will try to come to a mutually acceptable agreement in order to resolve the non-payment eviction case.
Afterwards, the parties resolution is then written up as a stipulation. The settlement agreement outcome may include a payment plan for the rent that is owed and it may also include deadline for the property owner to make repairs in the apartment if the court deems it fit.
I must stress that the tenant need not sign the stipulation if he or she does not understand the implications of signing and agreeing to a stipulation. If you are in doubt of what you are about getting into, you can have the stipulation explain to you by the court lawyer, a housing advocate or the judge and also you have the opportunity to ask questions about the stipulation and the consequences it might have.
If you and your property owner eventually initialed the stipulation, the judge will then sign the stipulation and give a copy each of the signed stipulation to all the parties involved in the non-payment eviction case, that is you and your property owner will be given a copy each.
However, If the tenant could not reach an agreement with the property owner and his or her lawyer, at that point the tenant can ask for a conference where the court lawyer will sit with all other parties involved to help reach an agreement and must also ensures both parties are being heard.
Moreover, If after the conference the tenant is still not satisfied with the stipulation or does not agree to the stipulation then the tenant has a right to trial and can ask for a trial with a judge. It is important for the tenant to understand that at this point he or she needs to tread with caution because if he or she loses the trial, to simply put it if the judge rules in favour of the property owner, the judge might as well order the tenant to pay all of the rent owed in less than a week and there may be other consequences to a trial. It is advisable for tenants to speak to a lawyer or seek professional advice or opinion before requesting for a trial.
Many non-payment eviction cases usually, mostly or certainly end with the tenant either settling for an agreement written up as stipulation or an order from the judge that will probably have a deadline to do something.
However the non-payment eviction case turns out in the court of law, I must state that it is very important for both the property owner and the tenant to keep to stipulation deadline or the court order but if they could not meet up with the stipulation deadline particularly the tenant, it may prevent him or her from getting more time from the court.
In the event that the tenant is unable to pay down in full on rent owed, it is wise and reasonable to go to court to seek more time. This can be achieved by filing an order to show cause (OSC) at the court clerk’s office asking the court for a hearing on the case for some reasons.
But if the tenant is denied or don’t get more time from the court then he or she should be prepared to receive an eviction notice from a bailiff, sherif or any other court judgment enforcement officers and may afterwards be evicted from the apartment.
Conversely, If the tenant was able to pay all owed rent as agreed on the stipulation including the current month’s rent which may also be due but may not be included in the stipulation, this instinctively should end the case.
And if the stipulation states that the judgment should be vacated upon payment, the tenant has the right to file an order to cause (OSC) and ask that the judgment be vacated.
On the other hand, the tenant can as well file an order to show cause in court asking the court to order the property owner to make repairs as agreed in the stipulation If the property owner fails to fulfil his or her own part of the settlement agreement or court order.
Finally before I end this article, I want to remind us that the court attaches great importance to how court papers are served on the tenant in a non-payment eviction case and of course in any other case for that matter. It must be served in accordance with the provisions of the law of the state which are by mail, hand delivery by someone who is not part of the case and who must be eighteen years or above. It could also be handed over to an adult who lives or work in the tenant’s home, taped where the tenant could easily see it or slide under the tenant’s door.
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