Frequently Asked Questions
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#1 - What right does the landlord have to enter the rental unit?
- The landlord may enter into the property at any time with the tenants agreements.
- The landlord may enter the property after giving reasonable written notice. Twenty four hours is reasonable. Charlton Weeks LLP suggests that you always give at least twenty four hours notice. Some circumstances may even allow no notice, for example if the property has flooded. The notice should be posted on the door.
- The landlord may only enter onto the property for a legitimate reason, for example to inspect the property for damage, repairs, fire alarms, or to show it for sale. If the tenant refuses to allow the landlord to enter onto the property,
the tenant can be evicted for this refusal (which means if you are already evicting the tenant, there is not much you can do).
- If the landlord improperly enters the property the tenant can sue the landlord for trespass.
#2 - Do I have to file an eviction if my tenant moved out but has allowed another person to move in?
- Yes, since that person was voluntarily allowed to move in, that person must either voluntarily move out or you must have the Sheriff move them out.
In this case it would be your tenant's responsibility to evict this person, and your tenant would have right and obligation to perform the eviction. Unfortunately, most tenants in this position shirk this duty.
#3 - Can I remove the doors, windows, or turn off the electricity to the property?
- No. If you do any of these actions the penalty which can be imposed by the court is $100.00 per day.
- The law prohibits the landlord from doing any of these actions, and most other actions, that reduce the usefulness of the rental unit.
#4 - Do I have to continue to pay the utilities of the rental unit?
- This depends on your contract with your tenant..
- If you agreed to pay the utilities you cannot stop paying them because you want the tenant out of the property.
- If you never promised to pay the utilities, you are under no obligation to pay for the utilities merely because the tenant has chosen not to pay.
#5 - Can I serve a thirty or sixty day notice before the expiration of the lease?
- If the tenant lives in the property pursuant to a term lease, for example a one year lease, then the landlord cannot serve a notice for the tenant to vacate the property unless the tenant has broken the lease.
- Once the lease has expired the landlord does not have to serve a notice before filing the eviction.
- If the landlord accepts rent, then the lease continues on a month to month (if the rent is paid monthly and the lease does not state to the contrary) basis. In that case the landlord may serve a thirty day notice.
#6 - Does a lease remain in effect after it expires?
- Yes. The only difference is that the term of a lease after it expires is month to month, unless the rent is paid in more often intervals or the lease states to the contrary.
#7 - What happens if the tenant offers the rent before the three day notice expires?
- If the tenant offers all the rent demanded in the notice before the notice expires, the tenant has complied with the notice. If the landlord refuses the rent, an eviction cannot be brought based upon that notice.
#8 - What happens if the tenant offers less rent than required under the three day notice?
- The landlord is not penalized for refusing less than the rent demanded in the three day notice.
- If the landlord accepts rent, even if it is less than the amount demanded, then an eviction cannot be brought based upon that notice.
#9 - Can the tenant be served if they don't answer the door?
- No. In order for a service to count, the Process Server must make eye contact with the tenant and indicate to them they have the lawsuit.
Therefore, if the tenant does not answer the door, the suit is not served.
(It is not uncommon for tenants to refuse to answer the door when they know they have been sued for eviction.)
- The court also mails the tenant notice they have been sued, so they are often aware the Process Server is coming.
- Problems also arise where the property is surrounded by a wall or only children are left on the property. In that case, after the three attempts, we apply to the court for permission to serve the lawsuit by posting it on the door.
#10 - Can the tenant be served at work?
- Yes. However, this will only count for the tenant who works at that location.
- If two are sued, and one works, only that tenant can be served at work, the other will need to be served at the rental property or other location.
#11 - What happens if the tenant does not respond to the suit?
- If the tenant does not respond to the suit in the time allowed by law, we send out the Sheriff.
- For those of you who want more detail: If the tenant does not respond to the suit we take that as tenant's default. At the same time we request the court for a judgment of possession only. After we have defaulted all the tenants and received a possession only judgment, we apply to the court for a writ, and then deliver the writ and Sheriff instructions to the Sheriff. The Sheriff is instructed to lock out the tenant.
#12 - How much time does a tenant have to answer the lawsuit after they are served?
- Five days if the suit was delivered to them personally.
- Fifteen days if the suit was delivered to them by another method.
- Charlton Weeks LLP makes all efforts to serve the lawsuit personally.
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