The Landlord's Lawyer℠ Evicts Your Delinquent Tenants
Why shouldn't I remove a nonpaying tenant myself?
Historically, commercial landlords often relied on self-help to remove tenants who failed to pay the rent or violated the terms of the lease. Self-help permitted a landlord to enter and retake the premises, provided it could be accomplished without a breach of the peace. Unfortunately, landlords who take the self-help route often find themselves in court -- as the defendant in a trespass and conversion action. At Wiles & Wiles, LLP, we handle your troublesome tenants without exposing you to any new legal liability.
For what reasons can a commercial landlord remove a tenant?
When a tenant fails to pay rent, in order to legally remove a tenant from rented premises, it is usually necessary to file a legal action against the tenant and obtain a court order allowing the eviction of the tenant and the tenant’s property. Wiles & Wiles, LLP routinely files eviction actions in courts throughout Georgia, Florida and Tennessee. The name of the legal action varies from state to state; it may be called a Dispossessory, an Unlawful Detainer Proceeding or a Proceeding Against Tenant Holding Over. It is very important that the applicable laws and procedures are followed in order for the Landlord to avoid any potential liability for a wrongful eviction. Once a Writ of Possession has been issued by the Court, the eviction can be accomplished. In most states, the Landlord has to provide the labor.
For example, under Georgia law, a landlord may begin an eviction, or dispossessory, action for any one of three reasons:
- The tenant is holding over beyond the lease term — "Holding over" means simply that the tenant has stayed in the property beyond the end of the lease. A landlord may allow the tenant to stay or may file an eviction action. Allowing to tenant to hold over can have additional legal consequences, so any permission to hold over should be accompanied by a statement from the landlord that the language of the lease will be strictly enforced in all other matters.
- The tenant failed to pay rent — If a landlord permits a tenant to pay the rent late, or not at all, the landlord may be setting himself or herself up for an argument that the tenant reasonably believed that the terms of the lease don't apply to any future payments. As a landlord, you want to avoid an inadvertent modification of the lease such as this. Because many eviction actions are based on nonpayment of rent, it is essential that you retain an experienced attorney to preserve your contractual rights if you make an exception to a rent payment.
- The tenant is "at will" or "at sufferance" — A tenant at sufferance is a holdover tenant who does not have the landlord's consent. If the landlord accepts payments from a tenant at sufferance, the tenancy can convert to a tenancy at will. In Georgia, a tenancy at will is any rental situation that is not based on a written lease. If your commercial property tenant has refused to vacate after the expiration of the lease, you should consult an experienced attorney to learn your legal options.
How do I remove a commercial tenant in Georgia?
Eviction actions are special proceedings, and different rules apply, such as an abbreviated time to file responsive pleadings and expedited hearing dates. In addition to seeking an order allowing the tenant’s eviction, these legal actions can also seek an award of damages from the tenant, including past-due rent and attorney’s fees so that you do not have to sue the tenant in a separate lawsuit.
An eviction action begins with a demand for possession. The demand must request that the tenant vacate the premises. A Dispossessory stating the grounds of the eviction must then be filed with the court. The court will then issue a summons that a sheriff will serve on the tenant. Once served, the tenant must answer the eviction complaint within seven days and can make counterclaims against the landlord. The dispossession action then goes to trial. If the landlord prevails, the court issues a writ of possession that authorizes the eviction.
How do I remove a commercial tenant in Florida?
Florida law requires that you send the tenant a three-day notice to quit stating that the tenant must pay the rent due (the amount must be specified) or they must vacate. The Detainer action must be filed in the correct court, either the County Court if the amount sought is less than $15,000.00 or in the Circuit Court if the amount sought exceeds $15,000.00. The tenant has five days to answer if no rent is sought or twenty days if rent is sought. A hearing is held and if the landlord is successful, a Writ of Possession is entered and if rent was paid for, a judgment for rent.
How do I remove a commercial tenant in Tennessee?
In Tennessee, you file a Detainer Warrant in the correct court seeking the removal of the tenant. A hearing is generally set when you file the Detainer Warrant. At the hearing, the tenant must answer. If the landlord is successful at the trial, the Court will issue a Writ of Possession and a judgment for the amounts due.
How do I enforce my Security Agreement?
Distraint is a landlord's lien right to seize a tenant's property to satisfy the tenant's overdue rent obligations. A distraint action can be used either in addition to or instead of an eviction action. Distraint proceedings make sense only when the tenant has valuable property on the premises that can be seized. A distraint action can be filed if the tenant is in arrears and is likely to remove property from the premises. If the landlord prevails, the court will issue a distress warrant, which may be levied on the property of the tenant to recover the past-due rent.
Contact us today to handle your commercial tenant evictions
At Wiles & Wiles, LLP, our knowledge and experience in this area of the law permits us to handle evictions for our clients in a cost-effective and timely manner helping our client get possession of their premises. To handle your eviction issue please call us at 770.426.4619 or contact us online.