1 June 2020 / Ashley A. Hawkins

A Creditor's Three Step Guide to the Eviction Process

As a creditor, managing your rentals is part of your business – which means, the eviction process, too, falls on your lap. However, you should not manage the eviction alone. In fact, self-help evictions are illegal throughout every state. What does this mean for you? Partnering with a trusted creditors’ rights law firm, such as Weltman, can help you avoid any pitfalls along the way, as well as provide tailored solutions and documents for each of your unique eviction files.

The eviction process can be broken into 3 easy-to-manage pieces:
  1. Pre-Legal Action
  2. First Cause
  3. Second Cause

Once you have determined a legal and valid reason for the cause of eviction, you may begin with pre-legal action. At this point, the landlord would advise the property owner of non-payment, or whatever the violation may be. The landlord must post a 3-day notice at the property.

Pay special attention to these requirements:
  • Upon posting notice, no rent or other payments may be accepted.
  • The 3-day notice must be written and include specific information, including:
    • Name and address of the tenant
    • The reason for the notice
    • A statement that the tenant has 3 days to move out and should specify the move-out date
    • A certificate of service specifying how the notice was given (ex. posted on the front door)
    • Said notice can be served via certified mail, in-person, or left in a conspicuous place at the rental residence
    • The following statement, in accordance with the city’s specific guidelines, included conspicuously on the notice: 

Following those events, the landlord should then send the lease, tenant ledger, 3-day notice, any lease addendums or renewals, and other documentation to Weltman to begin drafting the eviction complaint that will be filed with the proper court. It’s important to note, if the tenant has already moved out of the property, a money damages action only may be filed. 

If the tenant is still living in the premises at the time of the First Cause Hearing, it will be asked for the court to grant the eviction portion of the complaint. As your solutions provider, Weltman will have prepared a “First Cause Eviction Script,” for the landlord or agent before the hearing - which will outline the questions to be asked and testimony given.

If the eviction is granted, the court will issue a writ, schedule the eviction if needed, and set a move-out date that is provided to the tenant. However, should the tenant move out of the property before the First Cause Hearing, the First Cause Hearing can be dismissed by motion. Meanwhile, the Second Cause Hearing will still stand.

The Second Cause Hearing is to prove the money damages associated with the property. The owner, landlord, or agent will prepare the total amount of damages incurred and, again, Weltman will be alongside to provide testimony to the court. Additionally, Weltman will handle preparing a “Second Cause Money Damages Script” and eviction packet (a breakdown of eviction charges to present to the court).

Examples of money damages could include:
  • Non-paid rent
  • Non-paid utilities under the lease
  • Damage to the property beyond normal wear and tear
  • Court costs of filing the eviction action

If the Second Cause is granted, an order will be issued by the Court stating that a money judgment has been found against the tenants. This amount can then be collected by Weltman through post-judgment efforts.

Once you have the judgment, there are a variety of different avenues you can take to receive your collections, if payment was not previously arranged between you and your debtor. To learn more about the residential eviction process, how to collect on judgments, and special considerations for the recently-passed CARES Act, be sure to listen to attorney Ashley Hawkin’s latest webinar.

This blog is not a solicitation for business, and it is not intended to constitute legal advice on specific matters, create an attorney-client relationship, or be legally binding in any way.

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Ashley A. Hawkins


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