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CalAttorney2
CalAttorney2, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 10244
Experience:  I am a civil litigation attorney with experience representing both landlords and tenants in residential and commercial property disputes.
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I have a family member staying in a loft in my out building

Customer Question

i have a family member staying in a loft in my out building who quit paying rent. The utilities are hooked to my home next door. Can I shut them off?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 1 year ago.

Dear Customer,

No, you cannot shut off the utilities, doing so is an "illegal eviction" and you can be sued for money damages if you do so.

The proper method of resolving this is to give the tenant (family member) notice of non-payment and then follow up with an eviction proceeding in court.

The overall process is as follows:

  • "Eviction" is a word that is often misused and it leads to a lot of confusion, to help, here are the steps in terminating a tenancy:

    Terminating a tenancy-

    1) Notice: The first step in any termination is giving notice, the landlord can simply give notice that they no longer want the tenant to live there (this is usually 30 days, or 60 days, and it can be done for no reason whatsoever, there is no fault, and while the tenant must relocate, they are not being "evicted" and there is no blemish on their rental history), they can give a "notice to pay or quit" (usually 3 day or 5 day depending on the state, and the tenant has this amount of time to pay rent that they missed or move out), "notice to "cure or quit" (the tenant has breached the lease - broken something, noisy, etc. and must stop it or fix it within the notice period, again 3 days, 5 days, or 10 days), or a "notice to quit" (this is a 3 day or 5 day notice that says the tenant has messed up so badly they can do nothing but move out within the notice period - there is no chance to "cure" - this often happens when there is illegal activity on the property).

    2) Unlawful detainer/forcible entry and detainer (this is the legal proceeding where the landlord goes to court and sues the tenant to get possession - the tenant has an opportunity to appear and defend the action, common defenses include improper notice, breach of the lease (such as failure to maintain the property - "inhabitable conditions"). If the tenant answers the complaint, the parties can take "discovery" from one another and get additional information before a court trial before a judge.

    3) A judgment of possession/writ of eviction - if the landlord wins the trial, they get a judgment of possession and the court will issue a "writ of eviction."

    4) Forcible eviction - this happens when the Sheriff or Constable serves the writ of eviction - some jurisdictions give a courtesy notice the day or two before the eviction, others do not, but the end result is the sheriff overseeing the landlord's movers removing all of the tenant's possessions from the property and placing them on the curb, and the tenants are forcibly removed from the property. At that point, the landlord can change the locks and the tenant can no longer return (They have been "evicted").

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
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Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 1 year ago.

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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I live in the state of Tennessee and I have given the notice to vacate 30 days, but they are abusing they utilities by running the bill up for 2 months now.
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 1 year ago.

You can sue them for money damages in small claims court following an eviction. I understand that this is not the same as having the prospective protection of keeping them from further running the bill up, but unfortunately the law does not permit "self help" measures by landlords, and you can cause yourself a much more expensive problem by doing that.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
what is process for Tennessee evictions?
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 1 year ago.

This is probably the easiest "do it yourself" guide on TN evictions.

http://www.landlordguidance.com/eviction-notice-forms/tennessee-eviction/

Again, the procedure that I outlined above is the general procedure, the link above will provide you with forms and the details specific to Tenn.

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