Okay, All Right...
You’re not the same manager you used to be. And that’s good. You’ve been through a lot. And
so have your residents. The last few years may have had you feeling down and always under
pressure. But your community has probably stayed full and rents have gone up. So, you’re
feeling like everything is going to be alright. Inspired by Lizzo and the Spice Girls, this isn’t legal
advice, it’s just a few ideas that make good sense to me now, more than ever.
First, really get to know your phone, take it out for coffee, spend some quality time with it. How
well do you know it? Have you checked out all the apps that came with it? Can you quickly add
an event to your calendar? Or dictate a reminder for later? How do you take a low light picture?
Or a still photo in the middle of a video? Devote some work time to learn about all the tools built
into that handy social media source that’s just about always in your hand. Questions? YouTube
has videos and the Apple Store has free classes for you.
Second, document, document, document. Who saw what happened? The judge wasn’t there.
Your lawyer wasn’t there. You probably weren’t even there. Surveillance cameras are nice but
not always there and not always clear. So, make sure you use your phone, your computer, or
plain old fashioned pen-and-paper to document what you hear, see, and do on the daily. Video,
pictures, recorded notes. Names and dates are good to know. Call the cops before you get
close to anything dangerous. Request reports. Keep copies but your lawyer will probably want
to see everything, to sort out and see what’s important.
Third, make sure you tell your lawyer what you want, what you really, really want. What are you
expecting to happen? What do you want your lawyer to do? Really listen to their advice, and
answer their specific questions. Lawyers dwell on details, kind of obsessively. When they need
something, tell them if you have it or not. And if you do, how long will it take to get it to them? Do
you want your lawyer to work with the resident so they can stay? Or do they need to go, no
deals, buh-bye? Be specific and clear when you describe what you want because you’re giving
your lawyer negotiating authority on your behalf.
Fourth, what kind of client are you? Some clients want to know everything, some clients want to
only know it’s handled, let them know when it’s done, don’t bother them any more. Remember,
things change when you send the case to your lawyer. Some residents settle down, others get
riled up. Your lawyer will probably tell you to redirect any communications from the resident to
your lawyer’s office. Too much cross-talk is too confusing for everyone. Lawyers are usually
good at coordinating all case-related communications to keep everyone on the same page. Of
course, it’s an emergency like an overflowing toilet, your maintenance should get that call.
Fifth, once you’ve turned the case over, take a breather. If your lawyer offers online access to
your case information, first look there for real-time answers to your questions. If your lawyer
doesn’t offer that, you’ll probably want to call. But pace yourself… if your lawyer actually goes to
court and tries cases, then his phone has to stay on silent and a backlog of missed messages
await. When you interact with your lawyer, listen, watch and learn. Do you understand what your
lawyer is doing? And why? An occasional question shows interest and also educates your
lawyer. Just remember: you’re the client, so it’s your case. But you don’t want to direct their
actions any more than you would direct the actions of your surgeon. Your lawyer is a
professional and should be professional. If you don’t like your lawyer, switch to a new lawyer. It’s
Finally, so much of what we do these days is time-based, time-sensitive, and time-dependent.
Lease terms. Notice days. Court dates. Appeal periods. Scheduled set-outs. The good news is
that, as far as evictions and collections are concerned, it looks to me like the courts are mostly
back to normal. In Davidson County, for example, I can routinely file a detainer case and have it
set for the first hearing 7-10 days later. It’s been a few years since that was consistently possible
but it is, once again, and I think we can all agree… it’s about damn time.