If you’re a tenant facing eviction proceedings, the single most important thing you can do is to pay attention to the situation. Do not ignore phone calls, posted notices, or process. Communication is so important because failure to communicate could have drastic consequences.
Early Letters and Phone Calls
In the majority of cases, before even considering legal action, the landlord will attempt to contact the tenant by phone, E-email, or mail regarding a problem. A large portion of these problems are resolved with early communication between the parties.
You should respond promptly to communications from your landlord. There is nothing that will force the onset of litigation more rapidly than a stonewalling tenant. If a problem exists regarding such things as the timely payment of rent or a barking dog, you should be aware of the interests and concerns of the landlord. A good example of this is, if you’re 5 days late paying rent it may seem minimal to you, but for a landlord who relies on this sum to pay the monthly mortgage, a delay in payment can be significant—it can literally put the landlord in default of the mortgage and place the building in jeopardy of foreclosure.
Instead, explain your situation to the landlord and suggest a resolution. Written correspondence is recommended. Send letters or e-mail confirming the contents of any telephone conversations. If a resolution or compromise is reached, the agreement should be memorialized in writing. This agreement does not need to be fancy or formal, but should contain the information in the checklist below.
Checklist for Agreement
• Date of the agreement.
• Name, address, and phone number of you and the landlord.
• Statement of obligations.
• Property description.
• Recitation as to what the original agreement/lease required, i.e., the bargain of each party: “Tenant agreed to give X, Landlord agreed to accept X”.
• Recitation of the new agreement, including modified terms such as reduced payments, different timing, etc.
• Dates when the new agreement begins and ends.
• A description of what happens if parties fail to comply with agreement.
• Signatures of the parties.
For more information about the tenant’s pre-trial procedures, see the Landlord Tenant Guide to Colorado Leases and Evictions, 5th Edition, by Victor M. Grimm, Esq. and Denise E. Boehler, Certified Paralegal