Tenant Can’t Pay Rent, Hires Attorney to Fight Eviction?
Your tenant has not paid rent, and claims that they have no money. You are forced to throw good money after bad by filing an eviction suit.
Suddenly, a lawyer appears on behalf of the tenant, and is ready to fight the eviction. Sometimes, the first time a landlord learns of the lawyer is on the day of trial.
How does a tenant who cannot pay rent afford an attorney? This can be a real head scratcher.
Things aren’t always what they seem.
Your tenant’s claims of being broke may be true, notwithstanding their ability to hire a lawyer.
This is because some attorneys actually court tenants, and seek out their business. Yes, certain enterprising lawyers want to represent people who do not pay rent, and even some who can’t.
Here’s how it works.
These lawyers obtain lists of filed eviction suits from the Justice Court. Then they mail marketing materials to the Defendant – tenants.
Those mailers ask the tenants to contact the lawyer if they are interested in fighting the eviction. Many times, the tenant is not required to pay any up-front fees to the attorney.
While these tenant lawyers may be nice people, their efforts are not benevolent or charitable. Many tenant’s rights attorneys make a good living.
How The Lawyers Get Paid.
This is because many tenant’s lawyers collect their fees from Landlords who file eviction suits. They are counting on Landlords making mistakes in the eviction process.
When Landlords do make errors — usually in connection with delivery of the Notice to Vacate — the tenant wins.
Most leases state that the “prevailing party” in an eviction suit will recover attorneys’ fees. Texas Property Code Section 24.006(c) also speaks to the possibility of the tenant recovering attorneys’ fees.
Smart landlords will not add insult to injury by allowing a tenant to obtain a judgment for attorneys’ fees. Carefully follow the eviction process, or hire an experienced lawyer who focuses on Landlord rights.