At Pan American Properties we think of eviction as a remedy of last resort. Unfortunately, there are times when it is the only path forward.
Evicting delinquent renters in California is a challenging process. Just ask Cristal Cordova, who found herself in court on June 23, fighting on behalf of Pan American Properties to obtain an eviction order against a tenant who had accumulated $38,000 in unpaid rent.
Pan American manages the property where the renter lived. We handed the case off to Cristal, who began working for us in November as a property manager (she recently was promoted to executive manager.)
Like many renters whose ability to pay was affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, the renter applied for and received a government rental assistance check for $15,000. However, he never applied it to the balance he owed.
The Eviction Process in Court
“When we saw the funds had been disbursed but we still had not received payment, it appeared he kept the money,” Cristal recalls. It was then that Pan American began eviction proceedings. “We took him to small claims court, where I spoke on behalf of the property owner and Pan American, without the help of an attorney.”
Cristal and the Pan American team knew that being awarded a money judgment, in this case, meant taking the tenant to small claims court to get an order to repay the monies he received from rental assistance, as well as the additional balance owed. Because the tenant was still in possession of the property, the case also sought an eviction order.
Cristal was surprised when the resident’s absence in court did not make the process easier.
“The judge was tough, asking for dates, explanations, and any evidence I had to prove my case. He rigorously questioned the evidence I provided.”
Fortunately, the staff at Pan American—including Director of Property Management Amanda Hall and Junior Supervisor Nadia Barnes—provided Cristal with the training and support she needed, so she could successfully perform her due diligence and ensure she was prepared.
“My Mindset Was to Not Give Up”
Cristal established contact with the tenant before the hearing. Although an initial visit to the tenant’s home was unsuccessful as he wasn’t home, she was able to establish communication with him over the phone. He admitted he’d received the rental assistance money and had not used it to pay his back rent, as required.
This is what pushed her all the more to try and win the case. “My mindset was to not give up,” she recalls. “Even though I knew the tide was against meand at one point during the hearing, I doubted the judge would rule in our favor, I still fought hard because I knew the tenant was in the wrong and they could not prove otherwise. I was determined to turn the tide.”
And she did. Cristal won the entire judgment of $38,000 as a result of her preparation and tenacity—traits she advises others to adopt if they find themselves in a similar situation.
“The judge asked a lot of questions, but thankfully, I was prepared with dates and details,” she says. “Be well prepared. Dig into resident files beforehand because you never know what the judge is going to ask. Have everything on handfor accuracy, and don’t be afraid to ask for a moment before you answer a question if needed.”
When asked if she thinks she has a future in law after this, she shrugs and laughs. “I’m just glad we won!”
Winning in court is a big milestone. There’s still work to be done to regain full possession of the property and recover the money that the tenant owes. The court’s order opens the door for these remedies to become a reality.
How Pan American Can Help Property Owners Recover Unpaid Rents
Are you just about ready to give up on receiving the back rent owed to you? Don’t give up. Let Pan American advise you on the most appropriate way to confront delinquent tenants, and what steps to take to ensure you receive what you are owed.
Call us today at (888) 754-9700 or email us at [email protected] to learn more.