Jump to content

Chronicle of an Eviction.

Recommended Posts

As some are aware, I entered into the realm of property management.

Here are some of my mistakes that lead up to having to go through an eviction on a tenant.

1. I hired someone else to do the tenant screening. All I can say is DON'T rely on others to do this. If you want to be a landlord, do it yourself. My tenants got a clean work history and marginal credit history ranking from the person I hired. Do credit, employment, criminal and PACER checks.

2. If your tenant is paying with cash all the time...Warning bells should be going off. Normally cash is good in business, but in rentals it's a sign that they are avoiding being tracked.

3. Don't forget to talk to their previous landlord personally. There may be things you find out there that aren't on a background check.

4. Don't accept excuses and harden yourself against sympathy ploys. This is a business. You can't let your personal feelings get involved. It doesn't matter if they have children and it's the middle of the winter...They must pay the rent on-time. If you get soft, they will think you are a chump and put your rent payment at the bottom of their budget every month.

Had I done any of the first 3, I would not have rented to the people I'm now having to evict in the first place. The 4th is just because I let my personal values for family cloud my judgment and that's my fault entirely.

So here's the background:

I rented a house to these people (Let's call them the Comets to keep their real names out of it) in November. They gave me a check for their security deposit and told me that they would pay the rent when they moved in because they needed to get their security deposit back from their prior landlord. Ok. I was a renter once, so this made some sense to me. The person I hired to check their background gave them a thumbs-up. So I let them move in. This was right before Thanksgiving, so it took some time before signs that things were going wrong started coming up. Their application claimed they had to move out of the prior house they were in due to it being uninhabitable due to mold being discovered from a leaky roof that was never repaired. Having dealt with a landlord myself that didn't make repairs, this didn't suprise me.

First, due to the Holidays I wasn't notified by my bank until December that their security deposit check had bounced. The tenants quickly gave me cash to to comensate and paid a bounce check fee. But I got an excuse on the rent payment that they had not gotten their security deposit back from the prior landlord. Since I know it can take 45 days under Illinois law, this didn't suprise me. So I gave them a chance to make it up.

January 5 came around and I still had not seen a rent payment. I had to call the tenant to get them to cough up the payment for January, but I was told that their prior landlord had skipped out, changed phone numbers, and they still didn't get their deposit back. Given that my prior landlord was sued by the City of Chicago for the same exact problem and outside Chicago the tenant rights are pretty minimal, this didn't come as a shock. They paid their rent for January and a bit toward their back-rent, again in cash. So I drew up a workout agreement for their back-rent and had them sign it. The workout agreement required that they pay the balance of their back-rent in 4 installments to be added to their regular rent and that any payment made after the 5th of the month would be an unconditional breach of the lease. (I had already started having suspicions that they were problems just waiting to explode). I agree to waive late fees for all past due amounts while they are under the workout agreement. The agreement becomes an amendment to their lease.

February came and they started off mostly on the right foot. They were $50 short on their payment and they paid it in the grace period -- an aside: When you are renting any payment after the 1st is STILL LATE, even if you have a grace period in the lease. A grace period is only to avoid fees for being late. --

Then the world started to collapse...

My first real sign they were a problem was when the city police department called me. I was told they had been to the house and that my tenants were being scrutinized. But they would not tell me exactly why citing on-going investigation. The police asked me if I had a no-drugs, no crime clause in my lease (I do). Now I'm getting concerned. I confronted my tenant about it and was told that the police were looking for a suspect that had done something at the convenience store down the street that had run through the back yard and that they were harassed by the police for not opening the house to search. The tenant claimed it was late at night (after 9pm) and her children were asleep as reason for not letting the police enter. Given that the police would not tell me what was going on, there was no warrant, and nothing appeared in the local paper's police report, I had no choice but to let it go. But it did concern me greatly.

Here comes March. I get a call fromthe tenant saying they can't make their rent payment until the 15th. OK that's now pissed me off. Every time they are late, I get stuck with about $150 in late fees for property expenses. It also gives me a reason to get them out. So I prepare 3 copies of a Notice to Quit for Default citing habitual late payment of rent and violation of the terms of their workout agreement as reason and give them 10 days to vacate. This is not a Pay or Quit notice that reinstates their lease if they pay. It's a Notice that their lease is terminated for breach with no cure. I send one by 1st class mail, one by certified mail, and one is prepared for hand delivery.

The mailed notices are dropped off at the post office so that they will be delivered the next day and I hire a processor to serve the hand notice. The processor returns without completeing delivery and signs a statement that the Comets would not open the door; they spoke to him through the door and when shown the envelope with their name on it said they had no idea who that was. They have also, to this day, refused the certified letter. Now I'm getting angry, but I have to keep a level head and handle this by the book. Illinois treats this process as touchy because it removes people from their residence. Landlords have to be meticulous in how they deal with this. I have to be extra careful because they are minority and I'm not...can't have the race-card played on me.

Two days later the tenants appear on my front porch whining and crying about being "kicked out of their house" (Excuse ME! It's MY house. They rent the space in it!), children...yadda yadda. Well, I'm soft. The children issue was my entire concern through the winter months about getting them out. Now that spring has hit, I'm not nearly so inclined. I give them one more chance (stupid). If they pay their rent due before the end of the 10-day notice, I will reinstate the lease.

Two days before the end of the 10-day notice I get a call from the person who screened the tenants. She's panicking. She has just been contacted by the police. The police are trying to track down Mr. Comet because he is a gang member operating in Chicago under the street name "Butterball." All I can think is...um wow. I've met Mr. Comet only once after they moved in and he looks like he could snap Arnold Schwarzenegger in half with his bare hands (truck-driver was occupation on his application). Now I'm really concerned. That night I started preparing defenses and arranging for a safe place for my wife and baby to stay if we have a confrontation...these people know where I live for frack-sake.

Last day of the 10-day notice, Friday, and I get a call that they want to pay their rent Saturday. I say no because I won't be around (True...I had arranged to spend the day with friends). So they say that they'll pay it on Friday but it will be late in the evening. My hackles go up. So I send my wife and baby off to the safe house and get ready to meet them for their rent payment. Given that I know their background now, I quite literally got out my body armor from storage -- from when I apprenticed as a PI for my father's firm -- and put that on under a sweater. I put the stun gun in a jacket pocket for when they were to arrive. I intended to meet them outside and put the jacket on to further conceal the fact I had on a vest under my sweater. Prepare for the worst, hope for the best. Thankfully only Ms. Comet showed up (at freaking 11:45 at night!) and handed me a check for the rent. It was short, but only by five bucks, so I accepted it. I told her no more slip-ups and this was their final leniency they get from me. I got a sorta wierd look from her on that statement as she left. I put the check aside to deal with the following morning.

The next morning I look at the check. Uh-oh. The check number was only 4 digits higher than the one they had bounced on me for their security deposit way back in November. My brain started going "Danger Danger Will Robinson" immediately. So I drove over to a branch office for their bank and asked the teller if there was sufficient funds in the acocunt to honor the check. The teller responds with "I'm sorry, sir. That account was closed by our fraud and loss prevention department." What-The-F**K! They passed me a check on a closed account hoping I would deposit it and not find out for two weeks. Oh now I'm mad...really mad. I also remember from working at a bank's law department that it is a Class 4 Felony to pass a bad check over $150 for the purpose of maintaining control of another person's property in Illinois.

Monday comes. Now the house of cards really starts to fall (as if it hadn't already).

*The State's Attorney General confirms that passing the check was a crime, but I have to deposit it and let it bounce for them to do anything about it. I did what they told me to do and my bank agreed to waive the charges for the returned items since the AG asked me to do it.

*I get a call from the City telling me the tenants have not paid a water/sewer bill at all since they moved in, the water is scheduled to be turned off on the 30th, and I will be responsible for the bill under City ordinance.

*I get a call from the HOA because the neighbors of my rental have called to complain that my tenants have brough two large attack breed dogs into the rental (their lease is NO PETS) and the dogs have been agressive towards the neighbors. I drove by and saw a big post driven into the ground inthe back yard with two leashes attached that look strong enough to tow a truck with. I guess that confirms the complaint.

*I get a call from their former landlord telling me that: the house they rented was not in bad shape, he even installed granite countertops for them in their 2nd week; that they did a lot of damage to the property - kicked in a door, broke a window, damaged the carpet; that they were there only for 7 weeks before he asked them to leave and gave them their security deposit back because he had been the one to break the lease; and that they had stolen the 125 gallon aquarium (which I saw them bring into my rental) from his property. Oh, and their teenager offered pot to the installers that were there for the countertops and proceeded to get stoned in the back yard to the utter disbelief of the installers.

Obviously, I'm done with them. It took about three hours down at the courthouse to file the Forcible Entry and Detainer lawsuit and to take it to the Sheriff to be served. I had to warn the Sheriff of the presence of possibly dangerous animals on the property and that they have tried in the past to avoid being served notices. The return date to court is the 30th. If they are not served, I have to ask the court for an Alias Summons and pay the Sheriff again to try and serve it. If they are served and don't show, then I can ask for a default judgment instantanium and take that to the Sheriff to set up a time for eviction. If they do show up, it gets scheduled for trial 7 to 14 days later. (And this is the fast-track)

Once my bank gives me the bounce copy of the check, I turn that over to the Aurora City police and they then arrest Ms. Comet for check fraud.

I'll update this post as things change and more happens. I expect the tenant to come by and try to explain away the check drawn on the closed account. At that point I'm unloading both barrels and telling them straight out about how I can't believe a word they say at this point. I'll ennumerate everything except the gang activity since they are not aware I know about that. Hopefully they will leave on their own. Even so I have to go through the FE&D to regain legal possession of the property and money judgment for their back rent, water/sewer use, late charges and any damages they do. Thank the Maker I had the forethought to get a landlord insurance policy which will cover any damages they do, minus a deductable.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 66
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Mr. & Mrs. Comet were served this evening.

As predicted Mrs. Comet called me and played dumb asking "What is this paperwork." Since this is now legal, I kept it to a minimum because talking to them now could be deemed inappropriate. I simply said "I'm sure you know what this means." Mainly becuase it has come to light that she has a recent judgment on her credit report already. When she pressed, I replied asking her what she thought would happen by passing me a check drawn on a closed account. Of course she denied knowing the account was closed. Bull. It's been 4 days and they made no effort to contact me. That means they either knew the account was closed when they wrote the check, or they wrote the check without funds to cover it and found out later the account was closed when trying to deposit funds. So I told her if she has any other questions she should bring them up with the judge. Then hung up.

Oh and she called me using caller ID blocking (that's new).

Let my next door neighbor know so he can keep an eye out during the day and put a camera in the front window in case they pay a visit.

After two hours and no in-person showing up, I don't think I can expect anything more tonight.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You have GOT to be kidding me. That is outrageous!! I'm sorry your going through all this Methuss.

DH & I bought our house in Sept 05. Before that, we rented for several years while we got back on our feet after both of our prior marriages ended in divorce. Our landlord was the best man I've ever known. Still is. He's an older gentleman and he travels a lot. He's also very active in the church and habitat for humanity. I swear I hope I have 1/2 of his energy when I reach his age.

He never worried about getting the rent on the first. Of course, he knew we were good for it too. I was allowed to do anything I wanted to the house. Paint, wallpaper, make repairs whatever and deduct it from the rent if I included the receipts (since it was a tax write off for him). I did quite a few repairs to the house myself. I opened up the fireplace and re-bricked it, had gas logs installed, scraped 80+ years of paint off the cast iron porch railings, primed & re-painted them. I helped him "dig up" the original brick walkway, trim bushes. Everything. *sigh* I miss that old house.

Methuss, I'm with J Snow. Keep us posted on how this unfolds and like Steve-O said, it's a very interesting post. Thanks for sharing a story about such pita tenants.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Got another call from the City water department yesterday telling me a new billing cycle had started and they still had not gotten any sort of payment from the Comets. They faxed me a copy of the usage and how much the tab is now.

Wholly crap. Since November they have racked up $547 in water and sewer use! In my house with two adults and a baby the bill for that same period has been only $85. They are using over 280 gallons a day! Almost 32,000 gallons since November 20. What-the-hell?!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

But if you can not afford to pay it, (as they have not payed you) then the city will shut it off? I am just curious as if they didnt pay the electric bill, would that fall on you too?

Under State law, electricity and natural gas cannot be shut off for non-payment during the "winter months" which goes through April 30. Water service is not regulated by the State. Something to do with sovreignty of the city government (which runs the water business) or some such rot. Anyways. Electricity and gas can be shut down and I am not responsible for it. I may have to pay a fee to have it turned back on, but not for their usage. Water/sewer is different because the City runs it and attaches the debt to the property address. So that means whoever is the owner of record is ultimately responsible. They can even foreclose on a home for unpaid water or sewer bills just like a failure to pay property taxes.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Bank has turned over the evidence of the check being drawn on a closed account. State's attorney instructed me to bring it to court with me on Friday to show the judge. If the Comets show for court, the judge is supposed to have Ms. Comet arrested for the check fraud.

Since it's a class 4 felony, that means a minimum 1 year jail sentance and up to 3 years if convicted. It can only be plead down to a class A misdemeanor which is a minimum 30 day jail sentance and can be up to 1 year.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

After doing some digging I found out that Ms. Comet has been bouncing checks at currency exchanges under her maiden name for years. Some of the currency exchanges have even sued her and one went so far as to issue a citation for asset hearing. She failed to show up for the asset hearing and has an outstanding body attachment (bench warrant) on her for failing to show up when ordered by the judge.

I'm now of the opinion they won't show up in court on Friday because if they do, they are idiots. Even if she doesn't get snagged for the bad check written to me, the sheriff will take her into custody for the outstanding body attachment.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am so sorry you have to deal with those dead beats. I hope it all works out. You are not alone my friend rented her house in Rochester NY to a "friend" you would have never guessed this woman would be such a xLoserx a local Rochester "celebrity"--a newcaster (yes she is on tv reading the news) and she stop paying the rent.

LIke IL the NY laws are the same you cant cut off the water and cant evict in winter months. Well she was recently evicted and now her paycheck is garnished for the back rent.

Methus, bless your heart; you are too kind Always remember no good deed goes unpunished.

Good luck getting those losers off your property.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That is truly horrible. Good on you for making sure your family is safe before a possible 'incident'.

Hey - I have an idea for how you can handle the bruiser if he comes looking for trouble. Get that big 'ol Soul Slayer out and put the hurt on him with it :D

*wonders how many people will actually get the reference*

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well a default judgment was a bit much to hope for. Amazingly, Ms. Comet actually showed up. Mr. Comet didn't show.

The bailif ran her through LEADS but nothing came up. It appears that body attachments are only communicated to the sheriff in the county the judge has jurisdiction over.

But as far as the case goes...it goes to trial on April 4. Why? Ask the impatient judge. Doesn't matter that Ms. Comet admitted she was in default of the lease. When the judge asked her when she intended to move out she answered with "I don't know"... Bang. Goes to trial. Just because he didn't want to press the question with her. I could just spit. Another day off work.

At least it will be pretty much a open/shut case since she has already admitted in court to being in default. Now it's just a question of determining when they have to leave. The judge will order possession to me but will probably stay the action for several days to allow them time to leave on their own. If they aren't out by then, the sheriff can be brought in to remove them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wonder how much they are tearing the place up right now...

Don't remind me. Just driving by two days ago I saw they had run their SUV into the garage door (didn't even back it off from impact point), the rear screen door was bent and laying in the back yard, and one of the upstairs screens was bent and sitting on the roof over the porch.

At least I have an insurance policy that covers tenant damages.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

the rear screen door was bent and laying in the back yard, and one of the upstairs screens was bent and sitting on the roof over the porch.

Sounds to me like your tenants were trying to beat a hasty retreat at some point not too long ago. Maybe the Sheriffs Department came to serve a warrant! Didn't you mention that their is a warrant(s) currently outstanding for the arrest of Ms. Deadbeat? If so couldn't you call the Sheriff and tip them off as to the location of a wanted person - better yet, maybe 'Crime Stoppers' has a reward for information leading to Mr & M.s Deadbeats' arrest!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sounds to me like your tenants were trying to beat a hasty retreat at some point not too long ago. Maybe the Sheriffs Department came to serve a warrant! Didn't you mention that their is a warrant(s) currently outstanding for the arrest of Ms. Deadbeat? If so couldn't you call the Sheriff and tip them off as to the location of a wanted person - better yet, maybe 'Crime Stoppers' has a reward for information leading to Mr & M.s Deadbeats' arrest!

Actually I did mention it. It's just a body attachment with the cook county sheriff to bring her before a cook county judge. These apparently don't get put into LEADS (warrant system) and are only communicated between judge and sheriff. Cook county sheriff can't come into our county (Kane) to execute the body attachment as a jurisdictional issue.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well the trial is over. Possession of the premises has been ordered to me, but there were a couple suprises.

1 - Judges HATE math. My breakdown of the tenant's payment history showed the amount due each month but I didn't break that down further to show past due + current charges. Judge got a bit frustrated and told me he couldn't follow what I had done. I thought it was pretty simple...I guess just not simple enough.

2 - Judge disallowed my claim for the unpaid water bills because I had not paid for the water bill...even though City ordinance leaves me liable for it if the tenant doesn't pay it. I have to deduct it from their security deposit which isn't sufficient as it is to cover the judgment.

3 - Judge asked how long they needed to move out. Tenant asked for three weeks. Judge gave them two and my objection was only noted. I would have agreed to one week with no objections because we had a cold-snap this week -- I wouldn't put the children through that in freezing weather. So the Comets essentially get 18 days in April, rent-free under the judge's order and if they don't leave on their own, I can have the sheriff remove them after the 18th.

Now my only concern is how much, if any, serious damage they do over the next 14 days to the house.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This topic is now closed to further replies.

  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.