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21 February 2013

Democrats Sponsor Bill Requiring Landlords to Keep Deadbeat Tenants' Stuff in Storage

Imagine this.

You're a landlord. You have a tenant who just doesn't like paying rent. You go to court. You follow the law. You evict the tenant. The sheriff sits the tenant's personal things out on the curb, and returns possession of the home or apartment back to you.

Aside from not recovering the back rent from the deadbeat tenant, what would be the most insulting thing to happen to you, the landlord?

The answer to that rhetorical question is House Bill 379.

H.B. 379 --sponsored by Democrats Sandra Scott, Darryl Jordan, Sharon Beasley-Teague and Tyrone Brooks-- would require landlords to "provide for storage of such items with a convenience warehouse" and "pay the costs associated with removing and storing the property" of deadbeat tenants.

In other words, after the landlord lost rent due to a tenant's failure to pay; after the landlord paid money to start eviction proceedings against the deadbeat tenant; after the landlord went to court and obtained a writ of possession from the judge; after the landlord paid even more money for the sheriff to remove the deadbeat tenant's things from the home, the landlord has to put the tenant's things in storage and pay for that too.

I've read House Bill 379, and there's a provision in it that reads, "The landlord shall be entitled to reimbursement by the tenant for any costs and fees incurred under this subsection." But let's be honest, if the tenant refused to rent, what makes anyone think that same tenant will pay back the landlord for putting the tenant's things in storage.

Pardon the poor English, but it ain't gonna happen.

Tenants who failed to pay rent had their chance to leave and remove all their things from the house. By law, the landlord must send the tenant a notice that says pay up or get out. There's the first chance. When the landlord files a dispossessory action in court, the tenant has to be served; then has seven days from the date of service to file an answer. There's the second chance. Then there's the court date, and chance number three. After all that, the landlord has to schedule the sheriff to come out and forcibly remove the tenant's things from the property. And guess what? The sheriff doesn't come out the next day.

Evictions are a long process. It takes time and it takes money. That's why House Bill 379 is so insulting. After dealing with a deadbeat tenant who doesn't like to pay rent, the landlord has to put the tenant's stuff in storage and pay for that too.

It's dumb pieces of legislation like House Bill 379 that keep Democrats firmly in the minority.