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Landlords Aren't Lawyers

For years, landlords have been evicting clients by incorrect process. Recently, Legal Aid took on this issue and in a recently published decision the Kentucky Court of Appeals held that the housing authority executive director who is a non-attorney has no authority in a legal capacity. In Hornsby v. Housing Authority of Dry Ridge, 566 S.W.3d 587, the Court of Appeals ruled that an executive director of a housing authority who files a forcible detainer action without an attorney engages in the unauthorized practice of law.

Landlords often do not know Kentucky’s eviction law and provide tenants improper notice, file too quickly, or fail to provide tenants with opportunities to cure as required by law. The statute requires that the property owner or an attorney representative to bring the case. Too often the courts grant the forcible detainer judgment despite these valid defenses being offered. This case took up the problem of landlords often sending a property or office manager to court to file the petition or appear for the court hearing.

Holding landlords to basic standards of being involved in their own actions or hiring counsel assures minimal involvement for a lucrative business venture. Quoting Legal Aid’s previous Supreme Court win, this Court recognized that although it may be a common and accepted practice, eviction courts “are not at liberty to circumvent or evade the rules and statutory provisions by turning a blind eye to the requirements for the sake of expedience.” Shinkle v. Turner, 496 S.W.3d @423.