A rent escrow action is a legal way for a residential tenant to bring a claim that requires his or her landlord to make needed repairs and/or to comply with the terms of the lease. Keep in mind, a court can only hear cases involving residential property located in its own county. A residential tenant cannot be evicted on the basis of demanding repairs, calling a Housing Inspector or starting a rent escrow action. The tenant can be evicted for not paying the rent due to the landlord up to the time of filing the rent escrow action or not depositing the full amount with the court at the time the action is filed. The landlord may allege that there are other reasons the tenant should be evicted. The tenant must reside in the problem property during this time. The tenant cannot file a rent escrow action after they have moved. The tenant can ask the court to order the landlord to make repairs, reduce the rent until repairs are complete, refund a portion of past rent when repairs were not made and other relief.
One of the following steps must occur before you can file your rent escrow action:
Once your Affidavit has been properly filed with the court, the clerk will prepare a Notice of Hearing for Rent Escrow and attach a copy of the Affidavit of Rent Escrow and either the code violation report or your letter to the landlord requesting repairs. A court date will be set within 10 to 14 days after the rent is deposited with the court unless there is a pending eviction action. If so, both the eviction and the rent escrow will be set for the same date.
Once the case is decided, the judicial officer will issue a Decision and Order. The Decision and Order will address who is to receive the rent that is deposited with the court. The court may order a portion to the landlord and a portion to the tenant or may order all the monies to one party. The court may schedule a future date to ensure the landlord has complied with its court.
The tenant notifies the court in writing that the needed repairs have been made, the clerk will release the rent to the landlord. The hearing will be cancelled. If the tenant and landlord enter into a written agreement signed by all parties distributing the rent between them, the clerk must release the rent in accordance with the written agreement.
The landlord may file a Counterclaim for Possession of the Premises or a separate eviction action if the tenant did not or does not deposit all rent due.
Please consult with an attorney prior to any filings to ensure your legal rights as a tenant are upheld. Call us today for a free initial consultation!