Who you gonna call?
August 30, 2011 12:05 PM   Subscribe

My parents need to evict some tenants.

My parents rented out their home in Norfolk, CT but they live in TX right now. The tenants of the rental home owes my parents more than $7,000 in unpaid rent. I know my parents need a lawyer and I saw this question. Should my parents call the Norfolk Sheriff office? Is a lawyer in CT better or can they find a lawyer in TX to evict tenants in CT. Do you have recommendations of good lawyers in both states?
posted by jadegenie to Law & Government (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Your parents need a local Norfolk, CT lawyer. The lawyer needs to file papers for the eviction.

A Texas lawyer will not even be licensed to practice law (ie. file eviction papers in court) in CT.

The Sheriff can not (and will not) do anything until he has a court order. The sheriff will get a court order after a judge reviews the eviction paperwork.

Also, a CT lawyer may be able to help them recover some of that back rent. I take it that this is several months of a back rent - right? Further, you should have someone carefully document the condition of the home immediately after the eviction notice is served.
posted by Flood at 12:12 PM on August 30, 2011 [3 favorites]

The Connecticut government's Landlord's Guide to Eviction. More links to Connecticut landlord/tenant law here.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 12:12 PM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

You need a lawyer in CT, not TX.
posted by dfriedman at 12:22 PM on August 30, 2011

Landlord speaking.

First, allow this to be a lesson to never let a tenant run up that much of a bill (unless this is a commercial lease with no more than $3500 rent per month).

Second, they'll almost certainly need a Connecticut lawyer to do this for them, or go there themselves. Also note that eviction in many states -- I can't find the answer quickly for CT -- is a small claims action and thus capped, e.g. for me at $5000. In any case, they cannot call the Sheriff to perform an eviction until the court gives them a judgement.
At this stage, the Sheriff may be an option for serving eviction papers, but they cannot force the tenant to leave.

That said, they should right now disabuse themselves of ever seeing that money. It could happen, but it isn't likely. The remedy that eviction gives you is cancellation of the tenant's privileges and return of the premises -- and a legal judgement. Collecting on that legal judgement, once they lose any leverage over the tenant, is up to the landlord. People who don't pay their rent, well, usually don't have a lot of ready cash sitting around. They'll have to pay the lawyer to chase the debtor, or a collection agency, or a succession of collection agencies. Chances are good they'll never see a dime.

Thus, they should consider whether they want to add to their losses by paying a lawyer what will certainly be hundreds of dollars on top of court fees and any other related costs (such as movers/cleaners for anything left behind, not to mention repairs to the premises should the tenants trash it on departure or just have aggressively neglected things) -- all while waiting for the clock to tick in the justice system. One of the suggestions I got from a landlording book was paying the tenant to leave. Yes, it seems perverse. But it's often the most cost-effective option. Offer them a nominal sum in cold, hard cash -- say, $200 (but no more than half their rent) -- if they are out of there by September 15. They may well take it. Without looking at the timelines, that's a lot sooner -- perhaps months sooner -- than they would be able to rent the place if they take the tenant to court.
I have not yet had the opportunity to give this a try, but might soon.

Do you parents a favor and get them my two favorite books:
Every Landlord's Legal Guide, Nolo Press
The New No-Nonsense Landlord
posted by dhartung at 11:02 PM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

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