When landlord tenant matters goo bad there is always angst between the parties. If you have not been involved in such a matter you might not understand the stress it causes the parties. People have notions of “the tenant” or “the landlord” based on their experience and beliefs. Some have the notion of a tyrannical lord out to do in the poor unsuspecting surf. Others see slumlords, taking advantage of the poverty stricken. Some see tenants as deadbeats trying to take advantage of the landlord.
Landlords and tenants come in all varieties. I have represented both landlords and tenants and I have been both a landlord and a tenant. I have been and represented both commercial and residential landlords and tenants. For the purpose of this post I will focus on the residential relationship.
Most residential landlords are private owners of homes or small apartments who either make it their vocation or do it out of necessity or as a hobby. These landlords normally care about their residents and attempt to keep the property in good repair. They try to rent to people whom they believe will be good tenants; that is, tenants who pay their rent and do not trash the rental unit.
These days I have been representing mostly landlords. They have been hard working people who are trying to make a little extra money renting homes they have rehabilitated or could not sell. The tenant gets behind and stops paying. The eviction process is begun and then the judge orders the tenant to pay and vacate. Usually they vacate leaving the apartment a mess and never paying their back rent. I learned of a new process in Pennsylvania where landlords can attach the wages of former tenants who do not pay. There are exceptions if the person’s income is at or below the poverty level, but if they are earning a living above poverty, they will have to pay.
Many times the tenant’s failure to pay puts the landlord in a bad position to relative to covering its debt service on the property, thus this process can keep them afloat rather than putting them in default.