7
Mar

WHY WE DON’T REPRESENT RESIDENTIAL EVICTION TENANTS

Eviction Lawyer San AntonioAs a law firm with an active San Antonio Evictions practice, we receive several calls each week from tenants facing eviction. These tenants are seeking legal representation to defend eviction suits brought by landlords.

While I’m sure that some of these tenants have good defenses to the eviction suits, our staff has been trained to politely inform such callers that we “Only represent Landlords in Residential Eviction Cases,” and refer them to the San Antonio Bar Association’s Lawyer Referral Service.  Frequently, we  are questioned about WHY we don’t represent residential tenants in eviction suits. Here are the top 3 reasons:

  1.  WE ARE ALIGNED WITH SAN ANTONIO’s PROFESSIONAL PROPERTY MANAGEMENT COMMUNITY

Our firm serves as regular counsel to numerous professional property management firms in San Antonio. Further, we are a Platinum affiliate of the San Antonio Metropolitan Area Chapter of the National Association of Residential Property Managers.  We are active in that organization’s educational endeavors, and stay abreast of landlord-tenant law developments state-wide. Our affiliation with property managers has provided terrific insight about how hard-working and dedicated these individuals are in the face of an extremely challenging job.

Many attorneys represent BOTH landlords and tenants, and can switch their orientation based upon the client for whom they are working at a given moment.  We do not.

In short, we believe it would be disingenuous to work with and for professional property managers — except when we are opposing them.   As lawyers who work exclusively for landlords and their property managers, we never feel “compromised,” and never need to “switch mental gears.”  Thus, we wear the owner/landlord/manager jersey everyday, and there is never a question as to whose team we are on.

2. EXPERIENCE HAS SHOWN THAT MANY TENANTS MISUNDERSTAND THEIR RIGHTS & OBLIGATIONS UNDER LEASES

Having handled hundreds of eviction cases, we have experienced tenants of all levels of sophistication. A common theme we’ve observed is a fundamental misunderstanding by these tenants of their rights under a lease and/or Chapter 92 of the Texas Property Code (Landlord and Tenant – Residential Tenancies). These misunderstandings of matters such as how and when repair requests must be made, when rent may be withheld, the consequences of late payment of rent, etc., frequently result in a tenant operating in the belief that their arguments are a legitimate defense to eviction. Most times, they are dead wrong.

By the time that a landlord files an eviction suit, a tenant’s fundamental misunderstanding of the parties’ obligations under a lease has often done irreparable damage to that tenant’s legal position.

While many “Tenant Rights Lawyers” will disagree, we believe in the notion that most landlords desire to keep rule-abiding, rent-paying, lease-compliant tenants in their property. As such, our experience is that some act or omission of the tenant — however well-intentioned — is what brings the parties to the point of eviction.

3. TENANTS WHO DON’T PAY RENT SHOULDN’T PAY ATTORNEYS.

I’m always amazed when a Tenant Rights Lawyer goes to court and tells the Judge that the tenant paid $2,000.00 in attorneys’ fees; yet that tenant is 3 months behind on rent. A place to live (i.e. “shelter”) is a basic human need. In our opinion, payment of the costs of that shelter should be top priority (somewhere after food and before tattoos or cigarettes).

Tenants being evicted for non-payment of rent shouldn’t have the resources to hire and pay an attorney.  With surprising frequency, they do. Perhaps we are too sympathetic to the plight of landlords and the realities of rental property ownership (mortgage payments, property taxes., insurance, maintenance and repairs), but we couldn’t attorneys’ fees from a tenant who hasn’t bothered to pay for the shelter they received in property owned by another.

While the foregoing represents broad generalizations — and we recognize that there do exist valid defenses to eviction suits (and even legitimately WRONGFUL evictions) — we are happy with our niche practice as “LANDLORD RIGHTS ATTORNEYS” who do not represent tenants in residential evictions.