Facilitate Eviction Process by Giving Attorney Relevant Documents, Information
When you hire an attorney to evict a resident from your assisted site for violating the lease, you want to have the eviction handled as quickly and efficiently as possible. But the process may be unnecessarily hindered if you fail to give the attorney all the documents and information she needs for a speedy eviction.
Without these items, your attorney won’t be able to advise you on the best eviction strategy. And a judge could delay or dismiss your eviction case. As a result, you could lose money from being unable to re-rent the resident’s unit, and rack up higher legal fees from the delay.
Gather Documents for Attorney
Make sure you give your attorney all the documents needed to help prepare a successful eviction case. Give your attorney the following:
Lease, site policies, all riders. Your attorney will need to see the lease and all riders or addenda—for example, an addendum with rules about the use of common areas, such as the pool and locker rooms. These documents are necessary because your site’s attorney must have the names of the site’s owner or management company, and of the resident, exactly as written on the lease. That way, the names of the proper parties will appear on the eviction papers.
Your attorney also must examine lease notice provisions to check that any notices you sent to the resident comply with the lease. Even if you want your attorney to send the notices to the resident, the attorney must still know what the lease requires. The smallest error in a default or termination notice can delay or even derail the eviction.
If the resident is in a Section 8 or another subsidized program, note that the lease may have special notice requirements. Also, bring a copy of the housing assistance payments (HAP) contract between you and the subsidized housing provider, such as HUD.
If you are seeking to evict for conduct that violates the lease, your attorney will need a copy of the lease to make sure the resident’s conduct actually violated the lease. Also, in many states, your attorney must include a copy of the lease and any notices on which the eviction lawsuit is based when filing the eviction case with the court.
Copies of all correspondence with resident. Give your attorney copies of all correspondence between you and the resident relating to the basis for the eviction or any other unresolved disputes, including any legal notices you are required to give the resident under the lease or state law.
These are necessary because your attorney needs these documents to see whether such notices comply with your lease and state law. If they don’t, you won’t be able to evict the resident.
Your attorney will also want to look at correspondence from the resident to see whether the resident has a legitimate reason for not complying with the lease. For example, if the resident hasn’t paid rent, because he claims you haven’t done repairs, the resident may not be legally required to pay rent.
Written reports of bad conduct. If you’re evicting a resident for disturbing others or for other conduct that violates the lease, give your attorney all written reports of the resident’s conduct—whether reported by your staff, other residents, or the police.
These are necessary because when you’re evicting a resident for bad conduct, the resident often simply denies that it happened. To help prove the violations, make sure that reports were written up at the time of the incident. Written reports are not, by themselves, sufficient proof, but they help in deciding whether the allegations are provable and in investigating who may need to be subpoenaed. For example, when proving noise violations, written complaints from other residents are important.
Detailed delinquency report. If the resident owes unpaid rent, give your attorney a list of what is owed and for which months. If your resident owes late fees, damage assessments, and rent, specify which types of payments are unpaid and for which months. These are necessary for three reasons:
- Telling your attorney an incorrect amount can cause problems in court. If the amount is too low, the resident may offer to pay up, and you may be unable to collect the rest. If the amount is too high, the resident can legitimately claim that it doesn’t owe that amount of money;
- The documents inform your attorney for which months the resident owes you money. If the resident has owed rent for a long time, a court may rule that you’ve given up your right to collect that rent. If the nonpayments are recent, some states require you to give the resident a set period of time to “cure”—that is, fix—the lease violation by paying you. If you haven’t given the resident enough time, you may not be able to evict him.
- Your attorney needs to know which kinds of payments are in default. If your attorney thinks that rent payments are due, but the resident actually owes only late charges, you may not be able to get the resident evicted.
Copies of any side agreements with resident. If you have an agreement with the resident that modifies the lease, but isn’t a formal amendment to it, give your attorney a copy of the agreement. For example, if the resident was behind in rent, you may have worked out a side agreement in which he could pay you back in installments.
These documents are necessary because an agreement can modify the terms of a lease, even if it’s not a formal amendment to the lease. Your attorney must know which lease terms have been modified, to make sure that the resident is in violation of the lease.
Other documents. Ask your attorney what other documents are needed to accomplish the eviction. Your state may have specific requirements.
For example, in some states, you must provide your attorney with a registration of the business name of your site to show that it’s authorized to do business under that name, and to evict.
In addition, it may be that your specific situation requires documents not usually needed. For instance, if you’re a new owner of the site, and the resident signed the lease with the prior owner, you may need to prove your ownership of the site.