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ScottyMacEsq
ScottyMacEsq, Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Licensed Texas General Practice Attorney
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If a tenant signed a lease, paid checks that actually bounced

Customer Question

If a tenant signed a lease, paid checks that actually bounced for initial deposit and advanced rent, never actually moved in except for some few personal items but did have keys. Eventually surrendered keys. Do we, as landlord, now have right to property without having to evict since tenant voluntarily surrendered keys? I am willing to let them pick up their items and call it a day. We are in Georgia.
Submitted: 8 months ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 8 months ago.

ScottyMacEsq :

Thank you for using JustAnswer. I am researching your issue and will respond shortly.

ScottyMacEsq :

No, you don't have to evict if the tenant is not in possession of the residential unit. Eviction is only required to remove a tenant from the premises. When the tenant surrenders keys or takes some action that unambiguously indicates an intent to vacate the premises, that means that eviction will not be necessary. You should document the personal items that were left there (take pictures, etc...) and put them in a safe place until the tenant comes to pick them up.

ScottyMacEsq :

But because the tenant has clearly abandoned the property and has no intent on making any claim to a right of possession, you don't have to go through any eviction process.

Customer:

Now he did not directly hand me the keys - he told me to get the keys out the mailbox. Does that matter?

ScottyMacEsq :

No. Again, so long as he takes SOME action to unambiguously indicate that he's surrendering possession, that's enough.

ScottyMacEsq :

Hope that clears things up a bit. If you have any other questions, please let me know. If not, and you have not yet, please rate this answer either a 3, 4, or 5 (good or better). Please note that I do not get any credit for this answer unless and until you rate it that way. Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX good luck to you!

ScottyMacEsq, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 11359
Experience: Licensed Texas General Practice Attorney
ScottyMacEsq and 11 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 8 months ago.

Tenant is now claiming he never gave me the key.. and that he will sue me..does he have any grounds?

Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 8 months ago.
It becomes an issue of "he said, she said". If it's clear that the tenant knowingly relinquished control of the premises, this is legally called "surrender" and eviction is not required. He'll have the burden of proving that he never gave you the keys. If you have any witnesses, text messages, etc... that he told you to get the keys out of the mailbox, he would not have any case against you. It would be a difficult case even if you had no evidence, because your testimony against him would be pretty persuasive, and without more, it would be difficult to show that he never gave this to you.
Customer: replied 8 months ago.

Thanks again. I have a sworn statement from his friend stating that he was aware he no longer had control of the home specially since he had never had paid or moved in to the home.does that help?

Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 8 months ago.
That helps, certainly, but it's the relinquishing any control that he did have that is most important. That is, even if he never moved in but had the ability to do so, he would still have the control over the premises. The fact that he returned the keys (even indirectly) is most important, as that is an action indicating surrender of control (even if that control was not ever "actual").

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