We recently spoke with a housing court judge about the eviction process and other areas of the law. Here are some things we learned:
- If a tenant breaks a rental agreement and leaves early, landlords must return the security deposit within 30 days of the last day of occupancy. 30 days after the rental agreement end-date will be too late.
- In an eviction, you can ask for attorney's fees to be awarded as part of the judgment. If you do, it will depend on the judge whether or not you get them. The best way to increase your chances are
- Have the rental agreement stipulate attorneys fees, and
- Make sure the attorney actually comes with you or represents you in court (phone consults outside of court wouldn't be enough)
- A tenant who receives any public assistance is 100% judgment proof. You cannot collect unpaid rent from them unless they get off public assistance entirely.
- Judgments last for 20 years, so set a reminder to investigate their situation from time to time, if you feel the debt must be collected.