Business Eviction Response Team (BERT)

The Business Eviction Response Team (BERT) is a collaborative effort with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office in which OCP protects consumers from losing personal property, including financial documents, when a merchant is being evicted. This novel approach to a nationwide problem is a multi-step process in which the Sheriff’s Office first notifies OCP of a pending eviction of a merchant’s place of business, if the merchant appears to be in possession of consumer goods, vehicles or documents belonging to consumers. Such businesses typically include auto repair shops, appliance and furniture repair shops, dry cleaners, photography studios, etc. OCP staff will visit the business prior to the eviction date and attempt to work with the business and the landlord to notify customers to retrieve their belongings prior to the eviction date. When the Sheriff’s Office executes an eviction because the merchant failed to pay the rent, the contents found in the building can be placed out on the street. OCP intervenes when possible to safeguard the materials and to contact the consumers to help facilitate the return of their possessions. But for the efforts of OCP, these valuable items may otherwise be lost as the unintended consequence of a court-ordered eviction. With modest costs and efforts, this program generates widespread goodwill and appreciation from consumers. OCP has been successful in returning vehicles, furniture, appliances, clothing, and photographs to consumers.