As an apartment manager, you will always have one tenant that has become a nuisance. Loud parties, obnoxious behavior, maybe you suspect theft or drug use. Time and again, either you or other tenants have called the police on the offending residents. You have what you consider a rock solid case against them for eviction purposes. Heading into court, you submit the raft of police reports, written complaints from other tenants and your own written history of the offender(s) actions.
The judge summarily dismisses your case. You are left stunned. What happened? With out actual witness testimony from the people behind those written reports, it’s all going to be dismisses as heresay. Hearsay is defined as an out of court oral or written statement offered to prove the truth of the matter being asserted. Many property managers believe that hearsay simply means that a person told you something, and you are prevented from admitting that statement into evidence at a court hearing. That is true to some extent, unless that person is in court with you. The reason is simple. If the witness cannot be called to the stand and cross-examined by the opposing party, then the statement is inadmissible.
Don’t get me wrong, having police reports and written eyewitness testimony is going to vastly improve your chances of winning. But without the witnesses and police physically there, in the witness chair, to be cross examined, all your hard work will be worthless. Plus, the repercussions of losing your case are enormous. First, the problem resident is allowed to remain on the premises, and often will continue to cause the same types of problems that led to the eviction action; neighboring residents will not be happy. Adding insult to injury, you may be held responsible for the resident’s legal fees and costs, an amount which could be quite substantial!