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  1. #1
    Jetling is offline Junior Member
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    Suing for unpaid rent and damages

    What is the name of your state? Iowa

    I had a renter that was not paying rent. She even changed the utilities over to our names because she did not want to pay those either. We started the eviction process. Pay or vacate letter was delivered and recieved. They were served. We went to court and it was dismissed because we failed to get a reciept from the sheriff who served her. We went back to court the next week and the case was dismissed because she gave us our keys and had moved out the day before court appearance. This woman owes us rent and utlities for February and for the next month (March).
    My questions are these.. She gave us our keys back and verbally told us she moved out, can we legally go into our rental house and start repairing the damages, even though she signed a lease that goes through the end of March? Is the fact she gave us our keys enough? This tennant is a realtor and knows the laws. She has always had an agenda so we are worried she will pull something legal out if we go into the house.. If we want to sue her for February and March rent, do we stay away from the house or can we go in and fix it up inside? Do we wait to put it on the market (we are going to just sell it now) after March?
    We do not want to get screwed any more than we have been already. Help!
    Jinx
    Last edited by Jetling; 02-27-2008 at 09:50 AM. Reason: mis-spellings
  2. #2
    ynbjsc is offline Junior Member
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    I think you can take over and do whatever you want with your property if she voluntarily moved out. Take pictures of the place to show it's vacant as well as the damages. Put the You can sue for unpaid rent and damages. Find out where she works and see whether you can eventually collect the award/money from her. Realtors have board of realtor and real estate commission (for license) to govern them, don't know whether you can do anything with the 2 organizations

    not a lawyer, don't know your state law, please double check. good luck
  3. #3
    MIRAKALES is offline Senior Member
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    The LL and owner has the right to enter the premises for inspection, viewing, and/or show by giving 24 hours advance notice. The return of the keys and moving of all possessions from the premises would be considered a move-out. An official move-out would require written notice with intended date to vacate from the tenant, with removal of all property and return of the keys.

    Since the tenant has moved, the situation is no longer a housing or landlord/tenant matter. File a civil court claim for the unpaid rents, unpaid utilities, cleanup costs, eviction expenses, etc. Since LL already has case in housing court, the housing court can give you an official eviction and damages for loss also. Whether the tenant is a realtor and knows the law, or an attorney and knows the law, or a senior citizen with no knowledge of the law, the LL and owner are required and expected to enforce the law and follow the lease agreement, accordingly.
  4. #4
    aabbcc is offline Member
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    Next time be sure you rent to someone with a good FICO score. It is unlikely for a person with good credit to act this way.

    Screen your tenants !!!

    While you can sue this tenant, you will likely be unable to collect.

    An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
  5. #5
    Jetling is offline Junior Member
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    screened

    We did screen. They were relatively clean people. This was just an unfortunate venture for us.

    Thanks everyone for your advice.

    We will ask her for written notification before we go and change the locks. That is what I was thinking I may need.

    Can we sue her for the remaining time on her lease? It is only 2 months rent and the grand total should be under 5k.

    I am leary of the court system though, because we got so screwed trying to evict these people. In court she tells the judge she can not pay rent and will not pay rent and she even admits to changing the utilities to our names, however the case gets dismissed and she gets to stay in the house and squat longer because the sherrif did not give us a reciept for serving her. That is what makes it insane.. I am just not too confident we will ever get reimbursed for this.

    Looking into the possibility of entering an ethics complaint against this realtor. Thanks for the advice on that as well.

    J
  6. #6
    aabbcc is offline Member
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    We did screen.
    OK, What are their FICO scores?

    Unless you make some serious changes on how you qualify applicants, you will likely be in the same situation with your next tenants.
    Last edited by aabbcc; 02-27-2008 at 12:49 PM.
  7. #7
    MIRAKALES is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jetling View Post
    I am leary of the court system... In court she tells the judge she can not pay rent and will not pay rent and she even admits to changing the utilities to our names... the case gets dismissed and she gets to stay in the house and squat longer because the sherrif did not give us a reciept for serving her. Looking into the possibility of entering an ethics complaint against this realtor. Thanks for the advice on that as well.
    The legal system and courts does work but the procedures and processes are often more complicated to someone unfamiliar. The receipt required from the sheriff provides evidence and proof of service for the court and judge to apply the law. Without the sheriff's receipt the court would be reliant on your word alone, which is not sufficient.

    The tenant is a realtor which means she is a licensed professional in the State of Iowa. Filing a complaint with the state may subject the realtorís license to review. Certainly, she has been trained in the real estate laws and licensed to operate within the guidelines of the law. Maybe she has just forgotten and needs to be reminded. The ethics complaint is applicable to business practices which the state governs, but as this is a personal ethics matter and may not be enforceable by the state.
  8. #8
    ynbjsc is offline Junior Member
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    one very important aspect of the court system is that you have to follow exactly the court's requirement. The whole eviction to me is pretty simple black and white case, not hard at all technically, if you keep your end of the bargin of the lease, you just have to be patience and double check every details. I did two in a row without any attorney or any previous eviction experience. every time before and after I did something, I always had the court clerk double checked all the details before I filed anything with the court. Although I'd like to give it to an attorney if they don't charge too much, just lots of hassle. After that, I didn't care who came to apply, credit check, no exception; potential tenants were warned repeated times about the consequences no paying rent and on time before they signed the contract. I'd send out notice right away and start eviction process right after that if there's still no rent. I didn't get more eviction after that 2 though. I learned from time to time, you can't be too nice in this business, it's just so true that "no good deed gets unpunished" Not only did I never get any appreciation but I had to suffer every single time!!! but, it pays to be very cautious, just when you think you can trust someone and relax a little, something happens, you are back on the trap again. I don't think I can ever trust anybody again and anybody but me who can do a better job. everybody is guilty until proven to be innocent. It's just sad it has to be that way,who says it's easy to be a landlord at times

    follow MIRAKALES's advice. although every state has it's own rules, they pretty much follow similar principles esp. in LT area. again double check. aabbcc is right, you may not get your money back. Hey, put them in the record, register with Bureau of conveyance of the awarded amount. Those who don't do the honorable deed like bad tenants don't deserve to be let go and rack more naive LL. and who knows, sales's people's income flutuated, some times they get chunks of money from one sale. again, you need to pay attention to the rules, the deadlines, etc.
  9. #9
    Jetling is offline Junior Member
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    suing for back rent and damages- timeline

    What is the timeline/deadline to sue for the backrent and damages?
    Should I go to the court clerk and ask for a checklist of all things needed for suing? uhg.
    Maybe I need to bite the bullet and hire a lawyer, even though i think this can be done in small claims?

    J
  10. #10
    FarmerJ is offline Senior Member
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    J do what you need to for having the unit ready for another tenant. Take pics of what ever damage the tenant did, get them dated by the processor, keep all materials rcts. make copys and prepare a invoice to address the damages that are over and above normal wear and tear. Send invoice out stating how deposit funds were held (if you held anything) and include check. Deposit issues are separate from unpaid rents so deal with actual damage first. Check your state govt web pages to learn if deposits are restricted to actual damage only, Then go to small claims court and file for the unpaid rent amounts from the first day you started working on the unit going backwards to include unpaid Feb, Include utils from the date she took them out of her name to the first day you started working on the unit. You want to ask the court for X number of days of rent for march and then the Feb expenses, you will have to tell the court the tenant did not give a written notice they just moved. The tenant will have to prove to the court other wise. Bring with you your copy of the lease too. Do not allow her being a realtor who acted badly to hold you back. If she cannot prove to a court that she gave proper notice, you should be able to win a judgement for the moneys owed , Once you have a judgement in hand then you can learn what would be involved in collecting it, A judgement could either just sit there and screw up her credit OR you could learn what will happen if you have a bill collection service take over. Which ever you once you have it a unpaid judgement will interfere with her credit some time down the road.
  11. #11
    ynbjsc is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jetling View Post
    What is the timeline/deadline to sue for the backrent and damages?
    Should I go to the court clerk and ask for a checklist of all things needed for suing? uhg.
    Maybe I need to bite the bullet and hire a lawyer, even though i think this can be done in small claims?

    J
    If you hire a lawyer, make sure you know approximately how much they are going to charge you, if possible at all in writing. I am not sure whether you want to spend more than you are suing. you can always stop the lawyer's service though. also keep in mind, it's the lawyer business, not his own case. they don't necessary tell you everything they are doing (we've been burned really bad, way worse than the bad tenant one time, another case of trusting people too much), better do some homework make sure the out come is the best for you as well.

    If you do it yourself, you need to do more homework, check with court clerk, give them your eviction case # ask them whether you keep on with that case or you can start a new one in small claim's. if you go small claim, you can't hire lawyer but simpler/easier, at least in my state. you can do it, but you need to work on it. there's public and law library, books, good luck
  12. #12
    FarmerJ is offline Senior Member
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    J any thing you do now has nothing to do with your past eviction filings NOW it will be a new filing ,new claim.

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