I'm a landlord. Filed an eviction action against a tenant for having an unauthorized occupant. Tenant was properly served, but vacated shortly after receiving the suit papers. Should I cancel the hearing and pursue the moneys still owed under the lease (lease break fee) in small claims court, or should I still proceed to the forcible detainer hearing/trial to claim this amount? Again, the eviction was filed solely for an unauthorized occupant and not for a non-payment of rent issue. Is there any risk on my end if I continue to the hearing while knowing that the tenant has already vacated?
If you are concerned about obtaining possession of the premises, you should not dismiss your case. You should appear at the hearing and request the court to enter default judgment awarding you possession of the premises. You should be up front with the judge and tell him or her that the tenant vacated the premises. You are still entitled to a judgment concerning possession of the premises.
You may still bring an action for damages (damage to the property, repair expense, lost rent, etc.).
I agree that you should not vacate the hearing. You should attend the hearing, present your evidence to the court regarding the unauthorized occupant and get the order issued to properly get your tenant evicted. There should then be no issues with changing locks, etc, to preclude access to the property and following all steps necessary to legally remove the former tenants personal property from the premises.
This information is provided for general informational purposes and is not intended as legal advice. An attorney licensed in your jurisdiction can answer questions specific to your specific fact situation and provide you appropriate advice as necessary based on the specific facts of your matter and the jurisdiction in which you reside. If you are in Arizona and interested in discussing your matter further I can be reached at: (480) 838-9000 Mark D. Fullerton, P.C. 1839 S. Alma School Road, Suite 275 Mesa, Arizona 85210
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