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barristerinky
barristerinky, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 36201
Experience:  Attorney over 16 years, landlord 26 years
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If my renter hasn't paid rent or the electric bill and has

Customer Question

if my renter hasn't paid rent or the electric bill and has verbally told me they were moving out and the last 3 days I have checked on property all doors and windows are open and unlocked and 90% of there personal property is gone, can I put new locks on house to secure the property, note: I have witnesses and a recording of me asking why the electric is still in my name and I am paying when they were suppose to put in there name and pay
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  barristerinky replied 1 year ago.

Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I will try my level best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can.

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can I put new locks on house to secure the property

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If the tenants haven't completely moved out and turned in their keys, then you couldn't change the locks or it would be considered an illegal eviction on your part. You can lock the property up using the currently installed locks, but if you changed them they could sue you for "constructive eviction" because unless they vacate and turn in keys or until you get an order of eviction and a writ that the sheriff executes to put you back in legal possession, they are the ones with the legal rights to the property.

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Also, if you left the utilities on in your name during the tenancy, you can't cut them off or that too would be considered a constructive eviction. That is why it is always a good idea to put in cut off orders for utilities a day or two after they take occupancy so you don't get stuck having to keep the utilities on in your name..

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As an aside, in addition to being an attorney, I have also been a landlord for over 26 years and don't like to see other landlords run the risk of getting sued...

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I just wanted to add they told me they were moving out a month ago, and I have sense found out they have moved into a new apt, so until the renter give me keys or I file eviction action complaint, the property is legally still in there care, and there is nothing I can do
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
in the lease they sign it said it was there responsibility to put electric in there name and to give a written 30 day notice and when she verbally told me with witness, I needed her to put in writing, and she still hasn't, so even though its been 30 days by verbal with witness I cant take back property, unless like you said they turn in keys or I file
Expert:  barristerinky replied 1 year ago.

I just wanted to add they told me they were moving out a month ago, and I have sense found out they have moved into a new apt, so until the renter give me keys or I file eviction action complaint, the property is legally still in there care, and there is nothing I can do

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Unfortunately what they tell you and what they do can be two very different things.. In 26 years I have never had a tenant tell me that they were going to damage the place and move out without paying rent...but many do. So you have to proceed in a specific clockwork way with each tenant and follow the process exactly or it is you who can be held liable for any damages.

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So what it boils down to is that verbal promises, even with witnesses, don't mean anything from the perspective of potentially getting sued if you don't follow the established legal process for retaking possession.

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I mean you can do whatever you want to here, but just know that if you try and circumvent the proper process, you open yourself up to liability. They might not do anything at all if you just changed locks....but if they did, then you are at fault and the judge can and will ding you. So to me, it isn't worth the risk of getting sued.

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thanks

Barrister