Practice Pointer #1: If possible, the landlord should be sure to include a provision in the lease agreement allowing him to reenter the premises upon abandonment for the purpose of reletting the same as the agent for the abandoning tenant, as well as for the purpose of securing and protecting the premises.
Practice Pointer #2: If there is any doubt, the landlord should follow the dispossessory process.
Practice Pointer #3: Generally speaking, the landlord should file and prosecute dispossessory actions in Magistrate Court, where the case will generally move more quickly and cheaply.
Practice Pointer #4: The landlord should generally only consider filing a distraint proceeding if the tenant has abandoned property of significant value on the premises under circumstances where the landlord has an independent right to enter and secure the premises.
Practice Pointer #5: The landlord should consider methods of delivering the written demand for possession other than regular or certified mail, to ensure he can prove delivery of the demand for possession later.
Practice Pointer #6: The landlord should always make a written demand for possession, and he should thereafter behave as if he wants the tenant to vacate the premises.
Practice Pointer #7: The landlord who wishes to evict a tenant for failing to pay rent must not accept rent payments in any amount after making a demand for possession.
Practice Pointer #8: The landlord should attach copies of the lease agreement, demand for possession, and any other relevant documents as exhibits to the initial affidavit.
Practice Pointer #9: The landlord should use the Court’s own form whenever possible.
Practice Pointer #10: If the landlord wishes to recover a money judgment against the tenant, the landlord must ensure the tenant is personally served with process in the dispossessory action, and the landlord should consider using a specially appointed process server, if appropriate.
Practice Pointer #11: The landlord should obtain and serve subpoenas on each of his trial witnesses, even if they are “friendly” witnesses.
Practice Pointer #12: If the landlord has refused an attempted tender of rent by the tenant, the landlord should write a follow-up letter or other communication memorializing that refusal and the reasons therefor, and copies of that communication should be available to be used as an exhibit at trial.
Practice Pointer #13: If the landlord desires a money judgment for any reason, and the total amount requested must be calculated somehow, the landlord should prepare a written summary of those calculations and be prepared to admit that written summary as an exhibit at trial.
Practice Pointer #14: The landlord should share all of his trial exhibits with the tenant at his earliest opportunity, to save time at trial.
Practice Pointer #15: The landlord should be prepared to tactfully remind the Court that if the trial must be continued to a date more than two weeks after the tenant was served with the landlord’s affidavit, the Court must require the payment of rent into the Court’s registry.
Practice Pointer #16: The landlord who successfully obtains a money judgment against the tenant should ask the Court to order that a writ of fieri facias should be issued immediately.
Practice Pointer #17: The landlord should have kept a copy of at least one check from the tenant, to give him a possible avenue of garnishment.
Practice Pointer #18: The landlord should not apply any portion of the security deposit paid by the tenant to past-due rent unless the lease agreement specifically allows him to do so.
Practice Pointer #19: The landlord should always ask the trial court to include a provision in the judgment requiring the tenant to continue to pay rent into the Court Registry as a condition of maintaining an appeal.
Practice Pointer #20: The landlord should try to ensure all evidence introduced at trial in the Magistrate Court is somehow filed into that Court’s file, by filing a post-trial affidavit with exhibits attached, if necessary.
Practice Pointer #21: The landlord should investigate how long it will take to have the writ of possession executed by the county sheriff or marshal, and he should consider hiring an eviction servicing company if appropriate.
Practice Pointer #22: The prudent landlord will attempt mediation if possible and will keep an open mind throughout the mediation process, even if it seems obvious the case will not settle.
Practice Pointer #23: Counsel for the landlord should consider using mediation to give a pro se tenant his proverbial “day in court”.