Evictions Landlord Advice: Actions Speak Louder Than Words
This is an age-old saying one can also apply to a landlord/tenant relationships. Many property owners do not realize they can alter a contract by their actions, especially in how it relates to evictions. Often property owners are reluctant to issue a Pay or Quit Notice to a tenant, but then when the rent is late, it is important. The following story is true, although the names are fictitious.
Mrs. Merlin took the necessary precautions to initiate a lease that provided all the important and necessary clauses when renting to her tenant, Erick. He moved in and the first month the rent was due, it did not arrive on time. Mrs. Merlin waited a few days and then contacted Erick, who informed her that he would be paying the rent, but not until the fifteenth of the month. Although Mrs. Merlin was not satisfied with this answer or arrangement, she agreed, and accepted his explanation that he had some unusual medical bills. She waited for the rent without issuing a notice to Pay or Quit and Erick eventually paid the rent on the seventeenth of the month.
From this point on, this was the pattern – Erick did not pay the rent on time, Mrs. Merlin would contact Erick, he would give a variety of excuses, and although disgruntled, Mrs. Merlin would agree. He then paid the rent between the 15th and the end of each month. This went on for about sixteen months.
Finally, Mrs. Merlin decided this rent situation was unacceptable and she issued a Pay or Quit notice on the second of the month. The three-day period ended and the rent remained unpaid. Mrs. Merlin contacted Erick and he stated he would not have the rent until the fifteenth of the month. Incensed, Mrs. Merlin contacted her attorney and started immediate legal action to evict her tenant without relaying all the facts.
Erick engaged a free Tenant Legal Aid service and answered the eviction. In court, Mrs. Merlin’s attorney argued that Erick had not paid his rent according to his contract. Erick’s attorney produced every paid rent receipt arguing that Mrs. Merlin had altered the contract with “implied consent” by allowing him to pay on or after the fifteenth every month. Under oath, Mrs. Merlin admitted she had agreed to accept the rent after the 15th and had not previously served a notice.
The judge ruled that Erick could remain in the property as long as he brought the rent current and Mrs. Merlin was responsible for her legal fees. After her court experience, Mrs. Merlin was reluctant to initiate any other legal action until Erick was over two months behind in his rent. Erick did not protest the eviction and abandoned the property with four months of rent in arrears and damage.
Normally, tenants do not challenge an eviction, most eviction attorneys prevail, and the judge rules in favor of the owner on a Pay or Quit Notice. However, Mrs. Merlin’s acceptance of the rent after the fifteenth for so many months created a verbal contract by implied consent, which provided a loophole for the Tenant.
The moral of the story is that serving a Pay or Quit Notice is important when the unpaid rent is due. As your Property Manager, we know that although a notice is unpleasant, it is sometimes necessary to “Protect Your Investment.” If you would like to learn more about Evictions and how our Property Management services help you solve the problems, click on the links, or give us a call. 404-937-1850.
Marina Shlomov, a managing partner at ALH|Podland Realty & Rental Homes Property Management is the author of many articles on Landlording, Property Management, and Real Estate Investing. A residential builder in the state of Georgia since 1999, Marina is an investor herself. Her property management company is intended “For Investors” and “By Investors” for a simple reason – she knows what investors’ goals are and she works hard to reach their goals. In her spare time, Marina likes to spend time with her family, friends, garden, read and travel. Check her out at www.alhpodland.com. You can find Marina’s articles and comments at @rentalhomesatl on Twitter, on Facebook, Google+, Blogger. and YouTube, Bigger Pockets and REI CLub and LinkedIn.