Corporation or LLC landlords in Alabama must hire an attorney to handle evictions. That is because the law says that although a person is allowed to represent himself or herself in court, a corporation or LLC has no “self” that can appear in court. It has shareholders or members, but they are separate “selves” from the company.
Representative Butler (no connection or relation to Butler Evans Education) pre-filed a bill, for the next legislative session, that would change those rules. He proposes to change the law, so that a corporation with only one shareholder, a business entity with only one owner, or a LLC with five or fewer members, will be able to represent that company in court without hiring a lawyer. If you agree this is a good thing, please contact your state representative and ask him or her to support this bill when it comes up for a vote. Especially for the small business person, this can make a dramatic difference in decision making regarding evictions and collections.
A few words of caution.
One: Just because you might be ALLOWED to represent your own company in court, does not mean it is always a good idea. I think that for uncontested evictions, it is a great idea. But, have a lawyer lined up to take over, in case the tenant files an answer, or perhaps at some other “trigger point.” Many rules of evidence and procedure are tricky. You could lose a case you should win, just because of a tactical mistake.
Two: The proposed law says that such non-attorneys will be held to the same standards as attorneys. In other words, the judge will not cut you any slack on technical matters, just because you are not a lawyer. You will also be expected to follow rules of courtesy, and rules regarding time limits and notices. Please refer back to “word of caution #1,” above.
If you want to read the pre-filed bill, you can get a copy from my website, HERE