You’re a frustrated landlord.  It’s been two months and you haven’t received a dime.  Your phone calls go unanswered.  You write letters and e-mails in vain.  It’s time for your tenant to leave.

At the end of the day, the decision to evict your tenant rests in the hands of the judge.  So what do landlords need to convince the judge?  Look at the answer from the judge’s perspective.  The judge needs to know some basic information before he or she can make a ruling to evict your tenant.

There are three documents you should give the judge:

  • Written Lease: Judges need to know the tenant owes the landlord. The agreement between you and your tenant is your proof.  It sets forth the conditions that the tenant should have met to stay in your property.  It should clearly state how much rent is due each month and when it’s due.  It should also state whether late fees and other authorized charges (such as attorney’s fees) were expected if the tenant failed to pay.
  • Payment History: Judges need to know what’s owed to the landlord. A good payment history should be easy to read and understand at a glance.  Amounts owed and paid should be listed in chronological order.  Figures should be lined up in labeled columns; totals should be highlighted for visual effect.  In addition, unauthorized charges (e.g. fees not covered by the lease such as utilities) should not be included; otherwise, your credibility may be called into question.
  • Maintenance Records: Judges need to know that you’re not a slumlord. As a landlord, you must realize that you are on trial just like your tenant.  Records showing regular maintenance of your real estate should show the judge that you care about your property as well as the welfare of your tenants despite their failure to pay you.  Proper maintenance should separate you from the stigma of slumlords and add to your credibility.

Make sure you take a moment to prepare and gather these documents before you file for eviction; it may save you time and a few headaches.  Now you have Momentum on your side!

-Written by Matthew J. Floyd, Attorney at Law