Korean landlord Na had bought a house for rent in LA last year April.
After repairing the interiors Na leased the house to a new tenant. But an absurd call came in last October, the date the new tenant was supposed to move in, from the tenant saying that “someone is already living in the house. What is going on?”
“What do you mean someone is already living there?”
Na, extremely confused, immediately called the police and tried to figure out the whole situation.
The ‘stranger’ living in Na’s house had already partly furnished the house and even had the electricity supplies connected.
Na said, “When the police went to investigate, the strange woman showed her lease agreement and said that she was legally staying in the house, paying for all the rent fees. So the police couldn’t evict her from the house at that moment, which eventually made me take legal actions against the woman.”
The woman illegally staying at the house argued, “I am also a victim. I rented this place through Craigslist. I paid all fees in cash to the landlord.”
However, police investigations concluded that the woman was lying and the lease agreement was fake. That still did not do much to speed up the legal process due to the difficulty in proving the woman was lying.
These kinds of ‘strangers’ who habitually stop paying rent or deftly use the legal system to prolong the process are called ‘professional tenants.’ They move around houses and avoid paying fees for a few months or more than a year.
A lawyer in LA stated, “The heavy rain these days causes more ‘professional tenants’ to sneak into empty houses, leading to more problems. Of course it’s possible to evict them but it actually takes a while to prove that they are illegal tenants so no matter what the situation is, landlords end up being the victims.”
Na was able to finish the eviction process in February. But the entire process still isn’t over yet.
Na said, “The woman left all her supplies behind but I can’t even throw them away according to the law. The landlord needs to keep the supplies for 15 days and isn’t allowed to sell supplies worth more than $300.”
There exists many types of ‘professional tenants.’ Other than illegally staying at an empty house, other types include using dishonored checks to temporarily avoid eviction, habitually failing to pay rent fees, purposely damaging the house, and constantly suing the landlord.
Officials of the LA County Sheriff suggested, “Because it is mandatory to protect tenants, it is difficult to evict tenants even if they are ‘professional tenants.’ Professional tenants are very knowledgeable on laws related to this so it is especially important for landlords to supervise their houses well.”
Original article available on http://www.koreadaily.com/news/read.asp?art_id=5052084
By Yeoul Jang
Translated by Ellen Kim