The last thing you want to do when you have a non-paying tenant is shell out a bunch of money to hire an attorney to help with an eviction. You can find the forms online. Why not just DIY-it? Here are five of the most common pitfalls we see DIY evictions run into:
Evictions take long enough to get on the court calendar to begin with – why risk even more time without a paying tenant in the unit due to a simple error that could have been avoided? Common reasons for a dismissed, and therefore delayed, case are:
- Failing to give proper notice
- Improperly serving the parties
- Naming the wrong parties
The problem with these issues is that you won’t know you did it wrong until the day of your eviction hearing. Miss a step, or do something wrong and your case will be immediately dismissed. A dismissal means you have to start all over, pay another court filing fee, incur more service costs AND wait even longer to fill that space with a paying tenant.
In most counties tenants have access to free attorney resources on the day of the hearing. If the tenant utilizes these resources, or maybe even hires their own attorney, you better be prepared for a counterclaim. Retaliation, rent abatement, and habitability defenses are common and are used to buy the tenant more time and stay in their homes even longer. The moment a counterclaim is raised, a simple non-payment of rent can quickly spiral into something much more complex. Housing court lawyers know that they can get a favorable settlement out of you if they can get a trial so it is important to be prepared to face any counterclaim. If we represent you we will be ready to defend any possible counterclaim, and if needed, navigate a trial for a contested matter.
Lack of Proper Licenses
Rental licenses are required in several Minnesota cities. If you don’t have one and your city requires one, your eviction will be dismissed. Worse, the court may require that you refund any of the rent previously paid by the tenant back to them. Make sure your rental property is properly licensed and in the right name.
Not Filing under the Correct Name
Having an incorrectly identified and/or named party can cause an immediate dismissal. Is your property owned by an LLC? Do you own the property yourself but operate with an assumed name? Did your spouse sign the lease because you were busy the day the tenant wanted to move it? Did you hire a property manager to help out with things? Making sure your documents are in order sounds easy, but far too often details get missed which means: case dismissed.
Violating Tenant Rights
There are several ways you can accidentally violate your tenant’s rights during this process. Shutting off utilities, changing the locks, and giving a shorter notice than the lease or Minnesota law requires can land you in hot water. What was safe to do before COVID may not be safe anymore.
Markve & Zweifel can help you avoid these dangers and ensure you are set up for success when your eviction hearing arrives. Lawyers aren’t cheap but they’re worth it. Contact our team today if you’re looking to evict a tenant, have questions about your duties as landlord, want to set up an LLC or corporation to hold your property, or need some guidance and advice as you build your real estate empire.