Lessons from Eviction Court: Use The Names On The Lease

Posted by Stephen Marshall on

          The lesson from my last post was to make sure to name every adult occupying the rental unit in your eviction complaint. Today, I have a short follow up: make sure you take the names of the occupants directly from the lease agreement, and use the same spelling as is used in the lease agreement. Close may count in horseshoes (should this reference be updated to “cornhole”?) and hand grenades, but not usually in legal matters.

             As noted in the last post, winning evictions is about attention to detail. Sometimes in preparing eviction complaints, landlords take the occupant names from rent rolls, payment ledgers, prior notices, or other documents, rather than directly from the lease agreement. Unfortunately, on occasion, this practice leads to the wrong names being listed on their eviction complaints. When the wrong name is used, it arguably means that the proper person did not get sufficient notice of the eviction hearing. In such cases, there are three possible outcomes, and two of them are bad. If the right person actually comes to court for the eviction hearing, the judge could allow you to amend the complaint at the hearing and proceed against the tenant. However, if the tenant objects, many judges will either dismiss your case or continue the case for at least a week and require you to file an amended complaint and have the proper tenant served with it. In both cases, you to have to spend extra money and you incur an extra period of lost rent.

             So, when preparing your eviction complaint (or any document involving your tenants), take the time to get the lease out and take the names directly from it so there is less room for error. In the hectic world of property management, this can certainly be a hassle, but when faced with having to pay extra filing fees, make multiple court appearances, and lose more money in rent, the benefits of pulling the lease out will usually outweigh the costs.

             Hope the week is off to a great start!


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