Tenant problems and legal action?

My boyfriend's parents own the house he and three other people are living in. One of the tenants was expecting to get financial aid via a student grant but, for reasons unimportant to the question, couldn't go to school and therefore didn't get the money. Unfortunately, this also means he was struggling to pay rent and utilities.

My boyfriend helped cover his utilities for several months (to the tune of about $500 total) but seeing as he was behind on rent, they (boyfriend's parents/actual landlords) told him to either pay or move out.

He decided to disappear to a friend's house, leaving behind all his things and locking his room. This persisted for two weeks, during which he refused to get in contact with my boyfriend or my boyfriend's parents, who did everything short of driving over and demanding to see him.

Since they couldn't get in contact with him for two weeks, they decided to change the locks. During this, they also got his room open.

Today, two days after they changed the locks, either one of the roommates let him in (against the landlord's express wishes) or he broke in (also today, we found out the back door's lock is wonky and doesn't lock properly. Guess how.) and took his computer back. He left everything else.

What (reasonable) legal actions do they have here in the state of Georgia? They would like to get the money owed for rent and utilities, plus I don't know whether the whole 'breaking and entering' thing should be addressed.

4 Answers

  • 8 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    They still haven't evicted the guy so he has a right to his stuff, and though they would claim he has abandoned the house, its not clear what the law would say (if he claimed he was just visiting a friend).

    An old trick when a tenant leaves stuff behind is to haul it off to a storage unit, pay one months rent, and then get the tenant the key, if you can. I'd do this so he has no further reason to come back to the house and you can just call the cops if he does (though again, since no eviction has occurred its hard to say what a judge would say - whether he abandoned the place or still lived there, but the point is with no reason for him to come back hopefully you are rid of him).

    So, put new locks on everything. Haul his stuff off to a storage unit. Get him the keys if you can and make sure to get him the message (through friends and the other roommates) that his stuff is gone and if he shows up again you'll call the cops on him.

    To get the money owed they have to take him to small claims court at this time. To do this they will have to have the address where he is to have him served, but if they can do this they can take him to court and get a judgement against him. Getting the judgement and getting paid are 2 very different things but at least they can get this one his credit.

  • 8 years ago

    In my state, if a tenant has not maintained contact with the landlord, not paid rent, and the landlord believes they have moved out, the landlord can post the unit with an Assumption of Abandonment. Then the tenant has 24 hours to contact the landlord if they are still there. If not, the landlord can clean up the unit and re-rent it. The landlord must keep any belongings for 2 weeks. After that, they can be disposed of in any way the landlord wants including throwing them away.

    In most states, if a person moves before the notice period has ended, the landlord can then assume possession of the unit without proceeding to court. There is a period that the landlord must keep any belongings left behind (usually 2-4 weeks) before throwing them out. However, that does not get the tenant out of owing the back due rent, plus any charges associated with returning the unit to rentable condition including cleaning and damages. The landlord can sue in small claims court for those costs or send him to collections. But don't count on ever getting paid from this kind of deadbeat tenant.

    Source(s): I'm a landlord
  • Pal
    Lv 7
    8 years ago

    They must put his things in storage for 60 or 90 days and notify him that they did so. They can charge him the rent for the storage unit but since he has no money that would be a waste of time and resources. No point in calling the cops about the break in, they had no right to lock him out without eviction proceedings. They will never see a penny of that rent either so just write it off as a bad debt at tax time.

  • Anonymous
    8 years ago

    What they did it called Abandonment.

    They would have to be sued in court to recover any claims.

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