Common Landlord Question: We’ve Filed Eviction on My Tenant, Now What Happens?

Mike Nelson
Mike Nelson

My property manager called me and told me the tenant hasn’t paid rent this month.  They filed the eviction but now what happens?  This is a common question we hear at Excalibur Home Management monthly.  There are several ways for an eviction to play out over the course of the filing, answer period, court date, and actual put out.  Here are several scenarios:

1. The tenant does not answer the warrant but does not move out.   By law, if the tenant does not answer the warrant within the seven days, then the owner can get a Writ of Possession.  If the tenant was personally served by the Sheriff, then we can also get a judgment for the unpaid rent.  If they were not personally served, then all we get is the Writ of Possession.  You would have to locate them and have them personally served to sue them in Magistrates Court seeking a money judgment for the unpaid rent.   Then we need to execute the writ.  We would make arrangements to meet the Sheriff’s deputy at the property (based on their schedule which may be a week after receipt of the writ) to perform the “put out”.  At the “put out” appointment the deputy would remove any humans in the property and a “put out” crew would remove any of the tenant’s property still in the home.  The cost of the “put out” crew varies depending on how much stuff they have to remove and how long they are there.   Then we can change the locks, get the house cleaned and rent ready, and find a new tenant.

2. The tenant does not answer the warrant but does move out leaving the place totally empty.  By law, if the tenant does not answer the warrant within the seven days, then the owner can get a Writ of Possession.  If the tenant was personally served by the Sheriff, then we can also get a judgment for the unpaid rent.  If, upon moving, the tenant removed ALL of their possessions then you might ask us to take photos to document the condition of the property (totally vacant) in order to save time and money.  Under this circumstance, based on your request, we would go ahead and get the property ready for the next tenant and get it back on the market without fully executing the Writ of Possession which might save one to two weeks in the process of getting the house back on the market.  The safest course is to always execute the writ of possession.

3.  The tenant does not answer the warrant but does move out leaving trash and/or some old furniture.  By law, if the tenant does not answer the warrant within the seven days, then the owner can get a Writ of Possession.  If the tenant was personally served by the Sheriff, then we can also get a judgment for the unpaid rent.  If they were not personally served, then you would have to locate them and have them personally served to sue them in Magistrates Court seeking a money judgment.  If, upon moving, the tenant left some of their possessions (trash now, treasure later when they sue for wrongful eviction) then we would recommend that we need to execute the writ.  We would make arrangements to meet the Sheriff’s deputy at the property (based on their schedule which may be a week after receipt of the writ) to perform the “put out”.  At the appointment the deputy would remove any humans in the property and a “put out” crew would remove any of the tenant’s property still in the home.  Then we can change the locks, get the house cleaned and rent ready, and find a new tenant.

4.  The tenant answers the warrant and does appear in court.  If the tenant answers the warrant, then it is as if they were personally served – we can get a money judgment for the unpaid rent.  They had to see the warrant in order to respond to it.  We try to get a copy of the tenant’s answer (in some courts this is difficult because of their record keeping).  Depending on the answer we will prepare our response for the court date.  This often means that an Excalibur representative, usually the property manager, needs to appear in court.  In court the judge will listen to both parties then make his/her ruling.  Most of the time this means the landlord gets a money judgment for some amount and a writ of possession effective seven days from the court date.  Georgia law gives the tenant seven days to vacate after the court date.  If the tenant is not out within the seven days, then we need to execute the writ.  We would make arrangements to meet the Sheriff’s deputy at the property to perform the “put out” (described above).

5.   The tenant answers the warrant but does not show up in court.  If the tenant answers the warrant then it is as if they were personally served – we can get a money judgment for the unpaid rent.  We try to get a copy of the tenant’s answer.  Depending on the answer we will prepare our response for the court date.  This often means that an Excalibur representative, usually the property manager, needs to appear in court.  If the tenant does not show up in court then they lose by default and the judge will issue a judgment to the landlord and a writ of possession effective seven days from the court date.  Georgia law gives the tenant seven days to vacate after the court date.  If the tenant is not out within the seven days, then we need to execute the writ (described above).

The numerous laws and ways an eviction must be handled to be legal and effective is just another reason why it is necessary to make sure you are using a knowledgeable and experienced property management company.

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