These are just a few steps you can take to limit the amount of time you spend communicating to your Attorney on administrative needs, thereby saving you legal fees. There will always be times that you must contact your Attorney, and you should. However, you should save time and money on the issues that do not require the legal expertise of an attorney and contact your Attorney for the true legal advice you need. These tips are primarily focused on the preparation for Eviction and Actions for Money Damages. Most of these are administrative in nature, and are good procedures to put into place amongst your staff to ensure an efficient and cost effective case with your Attorney.
- Keep every record relating to the tenant and the property. Keep it one file, the tenant file. This will save you time so you don’t have to scramble to find something when you are ready to evict and sue a tenant for rent or damages.
- Take photos. Take them before and after the tenant moves. These photos will go a long way toward proving that the damages to the unit are more than just normal wear and tear (which is the standard used to determine if the damages are to be reimbursed to the landlord from the tenant.
- Keep invoices. Every repair you make, or someone else makes, keep invoices for. Know the method of determining the cost of labor and parts. These are all items you will have to prove in a case against a tenant for damages to the unit. The Judge WILL ask about these items.
- Keep track of everything having to do with the tenant. Any correspondences, notices to vacate, spreadsheets showing payments and debits, invoices, work orders, etc. You never know in a case what information might become relevant. It all depends upon the “defenses” the tenant decides to assert at trial. If you have all this information in writing, it will improve the quality of the evidence of your case.
- Keep a log of when rent is due and when rent is received. If you get into the habit of accepting late rent payments, the law states that you must write a letter giving 30 days for the tenant to start paying on time, stating that late payments will no longer be accepted before you can evict someone for non-payment of rent. Records of the payments as well as the thirty day notice letter will help you prove your case in Court in the event the tenant brings up the point that you have always accepted late payments.
As you can see, with a few good policies and procedures in place, you can save a lot of time, improve the quality of your legal case, and hopefully save you a little money along the way.