Who has the authority to begin eviction proceedings?

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Who has the authority to begin eviction proceedings?

I have been appointed by the owner of a rental property, via a property management agreement, “as his lawful agent and attorney-in-fact with full authority to do any and all lawful things necessary for the fulfillment of this Agreement…..to sign, renew and cancel rental agreements and leases for the property or any part thereof; to sue and recover for rent….. ” The clerk at the court says that only the “owner” can file the paperwork, however, that is not always possible as he travels quite extensively. We have the signed and notarized the property management agreement in place. Can I be effectively called “the landlord/owner” and sign the legal documents necessary to begin eviction proceedings?Thank you,Michael Pelletier

Asked on May 11, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Connecticut

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Yes, someone with authority, as an employee, as an agent, or as per a power of attorney, to act for the landlord, including in eviction proceedings. Property managers commonly handle evictions, rather than requiring the "owners"--who may be a trust, a hedge or other investment fund, or who may be overseas or otherwise out of the jurisdication, etc.--and complete certain paperwork (like fill out landlord certifications) and appear in court.

However, the issue may be that while you can act in a "factual" context for the landlord--sign documents on his behalf, testify in court, etc.--if you are not an attorney, you may not represent the landlord in court. Only lawyers can represent corporations, LLCs, or any person other than him/herself. (A landlord who owns the property him/herself directly, rather than through a corporation or LLC, can represent him/herself in court on a "pro se" basis.) Therefore, the issue, even if the clerk did not explain it as such, may not be that you cannot act for the landlord, but that you cannot practice law. So, say the owner is an individual (not an LLC or corporaton)--unless he is going to act as his own attorney, he needs a lawyer to represent him in court, including filing pleadings. You, as property manager, may sign any required certifications or affidavits for the owner, sign off on a settlement agreement, testify as to the facts--but you can't act as his attorney. The landlord would need a lawyer as well as you.


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