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Forums » Landlord & Rental Property Questions » Renter wants to harbor a homeless man. HELP!?

Renter wants to harbor a homeless man. HELP!?

39 posts by 10 users


· Oak Lawn, Illinois

First off, I am renting a ROOM, not a house or an apartment.

Secondly, my lease specifies that you can have guests for ONLY 20 hours... and she says she wont' violate it because he'll sleep in a shelter and just stay at my house ALL DAY EVERY DAY.

I live in the house. I CANNOT live with this.


I am at the end of my wits.

Commercial Landlord · Oshkosh, Wisconsin

Who is the landlord is she the landlord? Is this a boarding house situation. I might be inclined to notify landlord that u didnt agree to this when you moved in. Its a tough situation if the landlord lives in the property and is inviting homeless people to come over. I know I would move in a my cash and property didnt disappear in a flash.
Staying every day after about 2 to 3 weeks is considered living there by law especially if they get mail. I might ask the person if they know how many unrelated people are allowed in property in each bedroom.
A visit to the building inspector or health dept down town court house will enlighten you to the local codes in this matter.
Be very careful you dont want to get yourself evicted by tattling on yourself to the effect that the house has too many people in it unless you already have decided you might be leaving and have a plan in place.
I have seen some landlords get away with this for many years then if caught they just boot everyone out, and rent it as a house for one year then afterwards a year later go back to boarding house and pack em in like sardines again after some time has come and gone and building inspectors forget about it.
Knowing if your living with owner of building would help me advise you in this matter.

Real Estate Investor · Dallas, Texas

More info please. Do you own and are renting a room? Or are you renting and subletting a room? If the latter, do you have the right to sublet (yes, renting a room if you're renting is subletting)? If not, you're violating the lease, not her.

If you own, just tell her it's unacceptable since you live there. She likely won't fight it in court. Tell her you're more than happy to let her out of the lease if she insists on allowing this person to stay there.

Small_dreamstime_l_17553651_-_copy_crCarlos Flores, Stronger Communities Alliance, LLC
E-Mail: [email protected]

20 hours guest?

I wouldn't put that in the lease. I would put "no overnight guests" and have a "quiet enjoyment" clause that includes guests not disturbing other tenants. And "no guests unattended on the property without tenant who invited them."

Someone at the property every day isn't acceptable with roommates. If you own the house, set the standards of guests and someone essentially living there during the day. If you're a roommate, consider moving.

I would put a lock on your door. Not necessarily because the person is homeless, but because he's someone you don't know who now has access to your belongings.

If my roommates had their best friend or relative over every day, I wouldn't put up with that. That's too great an imposition to have that many guests over.

· Oak Lawn, Illinois

My mother is the landlord. I am paying rent but I do not have a lease because I am her daughter. I am the property manager, but that is unfortunately not specified in the lease.

This is not a boarding house. This is a residential home... MY home, technically owned by my mother. We're renting two rooms for some extra money.

If you own, just tell her it's unacceptable since you live there. She likely won't fight it in court. Tell her you're more than happy to let her out of the lease if she insists on allowing this person to stay there.

We already tried that. She insisted that because her lease specifies nothing other than "guests can stay no longer than 20 hours" that it's okay if he's only there during the day and not staying the night.

She has been terribly belligerent with me and has been yelling at me for saying he can't stay, insisting that he's going to die, etc. She broke down crying the first time I tried to talk to her about it and excused herself from our conversation.

· Oak Lawn, Illinois

If you own the house, set the standards of guests and someone essentially living there during the day.

How do I do that when she's using my own lease against me, stating that she can legally do it?

She has threatened to call the police already, by the way.

Real Estate Investor

You'd best find a lawyer pronto. That's your best bet.

Also, where in the world did the lease come from?
Typically leases don't have anything like this in them, especially a clause so skewed. Did this problematic tenant provide it?

You also might see if room renting is illegal in your area. If that's the case, try and help yourself out as best as you can with as little collateral damage.

You really need to talk to an attorney, in my opinion.

This scenario is when like one of your buddy's girlfriend stays at the house you share with multiple guys 99% of the time but doesn't want to chip in, except worse.

Good luck.

Commercial Landlord · Oshkosh, Wisconsin

Knowing what I know now i think its time to leave the nest and make your own. Just my 2 cents. If she is still needing your management services going forward I would skip it to save any relationship you can salvage with your mom. In my opinion we cant change our blood but in the interest of our sanity its best to have our own household if you can afford it. If you cant afford it. It might be time to move to a part of the country where you can afford your own place.
This might be the golden opportunity to spread your wings and start a new with any great opportunity in mind. Imagine being able to go anywhere get a new job or place to live. Just take off the blinders and America is now your back yard! Just an idea. I almost think this is more of a question for a psychology forum.

Rehabber · Norfolk, Virginia

Why havent YOU called the police? Obviously this person has no business in your home, house guest or not. You do not know this persons history, their background, maybe even criminal record.

What does your mother think of this situation? Have you informed her that their is a homeless person staying at the home, even when others are not present?

Have the police escort this individual to the local mission or shelter.

If your tenant has an issue with this tell her it is your responsibility to protect not only everyones safety in this house, as well as their belongings. That should be the end of that.

Also, revise your leases, that is horrible wording. My leases state "no overnight guests without prior approval"

good luck.

Commercial Landlord · Oshkosh, Wisconsin

I forgot to mention, The fact this is your mother and there is a lease involved to me is a total break down in your relationship and probably should be a message to move on.

· Oak Lawn, Illinois

HA! We do have a "quiet enjoyment" clause.

6. Quiet Enjoyment. Lessor covenants that on paying the rent and performing the covenants herein contained, Lessee shall peacefully and quietly have, hold, and enjoy the demised premises for the agreed term.
6.b. Noise. Lessee shall not cause or allow any unreasonably loud noise or activity in the premise that might disturb the rights, comforts and conveniences of other persons.

So, I think that falls under this, right?

She is not talking about keeping him here overnight just during the day every single day, when the shelters are not open (as the ones by us are only open at night.)

My lease is eight pages long... I am new to renting and I basically got an apartment lease which I modified slightly. It has worked fine up until now.

· Oak Lawn, Illinois

By the way, thank you everyone for your extremely quick and numerous responses. It is really helping me manage the stress.

Originally posted by William Bannister:
I forgot to mention, The fact this is your mother and there is a lease involved to me is a total break down in your relationship and probably should be a message to move on.


She said she does NOT have a lease because it's her mother.

It sounds like the mother owns the house, doesn't live there, and the daughter lives there with roommats.

Get a lock for your door! First things first.

How long a lease does this roommate have?

Are they month to month?
If so.. give proper written notice (usually 30 days.)

Next time, the lease should say:
"No tenant shall invite guests daily to the house, nor shall any tenants' guests disturb the quiet enjoyment of other tenants."
"No tenant's guest shall be inside the premises without the invitor being present at all times."

Take out the 20 hour rule. That does nothing. If you want to set hour limits, make it 5 hours or something. Plus, no overnight guests without prior witten approval of the landlord.

I don't tolerate my tenants yelling at me. Not gonna happen.
My lease even includes that such abusive, profane, or offensive behavior by any tenant or guest shall not be tolerated and is grounds for giving them notice and terminating the lease.

She thinks you're a pushover, and she's a bully.. so she's trying to scare you by yelling.

How many tenants do you have? How many unrelated tenants are allowed to live in a house by your local zoning codes? Do you pay rental taxes? (Obviously don't answer these questions here... research the answers then proceed carefully with tenant.)

Perhaps talking firmly but politely,
"As you probably can tell, this living situation is not working for me. It is not acceptable to have guests over when we're not home. I'm sure you're not happy here. Do you have another place to live?"

Or perhaps step it up,
"Our living situation is not working. Guests cannot be in my home unattended. That is a violation of my safety and a risk to my home and my belongings. It disturbs the quiet enjoyment of myself and of other tenants, and jeopardizes our safety. If this problem continues, I will have to terminate your lease in 30 days."

Remember, if she goes nuts and starts damaging the property or threatening you, call and file a report. She could be charged with destruction of personal property if she causes purposely damages the place because she's mad.

If she has a month to month lease, give her 30 days written notice to vacate.

Next time, remember to be polite.. but if you're too nice, roommates will walk all over you. Some things are to be expected with roommates... friends over perhaps a few nights a week, a few overnight guests a month (unless lease bans it), dirty dishes, and the like. Yelling and daily unattended guests = no way jose.

My lease is a little shorter than yours, but gives me much more control of the situation.

I usually casually chat with new roommates. We usually end up talking about old roommates, and I'll tell them about an old roommate who I had to give notice to because she violated the overnight guest clause, paid late, and was hateful and dirty. I usually throw in a "it was awkward, but I will protect my home at all costs... whether that means asking someone to leave, or giving away my own pet to protect my nice carpet."

Nothing in your lease gives your tenant grounds to have a homeless (or other person) there all day every day unattended.

Nothing in your lease gives your tenant grounds to yell at you.
My tenants yell at me, and per my lease, 30 days written notice.
I also like month to month leases for this very reason.

· Oak Lawn, Illinois

Thankfully, I do have a lock on my door, but it is not bulletproof. It can be easily carded. My father and my neighbor (who I love dearly) have offered to hold onto some valuable items for me until we can get him out of the house.
Her lease is, unfortunately, a six month one. I think I am going to politely ask her “As a friend,” to look for another place. My mother has already given her permission to get out of the lease early because we’d rather take a loss on that front than deal with any more drama. I would rather not pull out the fact that she’s late in paying her utilities unless I absolutely need to. Honestly, I just want to get her out without any legal involvement at this point. I am willing to dip into my (bleeding) savings to make it up to my mother.

Next time, the lease should say:
"No tenant shall invite guests daily to the house, nor shall any tenants' guests disturb the quiet enjoyment of other tenants."
"No tenant's guest shall be inside the premises without the invitor being present at all times."

I am definitely replacing the 20 hour rule with that. I left it lenient because I didn’t think that we’d have these kinds of problems with me LIVING at the house. I never, in my wildest dreams, imagined that someone would have the audacity to do this to me.
I should also add that their guests cannot disturb THE NEIGHBORS, seeing as this guy is. He’s a seedy-looking character, constantly outside of my house, smoking on the step. My neighbor complained about him, saying that he looked “drunk or stoned.” He does.
She reported that my neighbor was discriminating against him because he’s disabled… he’s “disabled” (motor skills, etc) because he has brain damage from alcohol poisoning…
I have an autistic brother. My neighbor never “discriminated” against him, even when her young daughter saw him running out of the house, naked. She never ONCE said anything about him screaming at the top of his lungs in the back yard, even though he was probably disrupting her entire house. My neighbor is an extremely sweet and extremely tolerant person with whom I absolutely do not want trouble.
I don't tolerate my tenants yelling at me. Not gonna happen.
My lease even includes that such abusive, profane, or offensive behavior by any tenant or guest shall not be tolerated and is grounds for giving them notice and terminating the lease.

I didn’t know that it was legally possible to put that in a lease. Do you mind me asking you to paste exactly how you phrase that?
I am not sure how many unrelated tenants we’re allowed to have, according to the city. I tried to look it up to no avail. We only have two and I guess three since I probably technically count as a tenant? There’s me, this sleezeball and one other tenant, who I have had no real problems with whatsoever and who is bizarrely not as put out by this man as she likely should be…
Thankfully, I think she has too much sense to damage the property but I worry about that with him egging her on, which is one of the reasons that I’m treading so lightly around this whack job. This house means a lot to me and damage to the property would deeply, deeply upset me.
I am curious what points in your lease give you that control, because I’d like to revise mine for the next time.
I think that from now on, I’m going to do month to month for a while to make sure that I can trust the person. I personally prefer longer leases because it gives me more stability, so if I’ve decided that I will keep them, then we’ll go for the six month. I deeply, deeply regret that I signed her on for so long… because I cannot wait until May or June. I need her out of my house… now... and I bound myself to not being able to do that.

SFR Investor · Wheat Ridge, Colorado

IMHO, never, ever do anything but month to month leases. A lease has zero effect on a tenant when they want to leave. A long lease doesn't give you iota of stability. But it ties your hands. If you want the tenant out with a month to month lease, you give notice and terminate it. If they stay, you have solid grounds to evict.

I'll agree with @William Bannister on this one. Move. Simple as that.

If your lock and easily be opened, get a better one.

Personally, I wouldn't want to live in the same building as my tenants. They have their lives, I have mine. They're my customers, not my friend. To actually share a house is quite crazy, IMHO.

You certainly should seek counsel from a lawyer about how to handle the situation. Perhaps there's some way to legally terminate the lease. None of us have seen it. Actually seeing it, combined with local laws and customs at eviction court may open some door to getting her out.

@John Espinosa I don't see the cops getting involved. Someone who legally lives there is allowing this person to stay. They're not trespassing. They're not breaking in. Its a civil matter, not one for the police.

Jon Holdman, Flying Phoenix LLC

I'm surprised your neighbor didn't try to report him for public drunkenness. Though, perhaps since he's a guest it might not be "public." Who knows. Um, thinking someone looks drunk is not discriminating. Drunkenness is not a protected class. And, discriminating is when action (firing, etc.) has taken place.

Month to month is better for you. You can get rid of them easily. You have a LOT of people only wanting a few months, then you have to roommate search again. Short-term people often have less personal belongings to move in. They also usually don't clean the kitchen or common areas since they're there short-term.

Tenants don't have a legal right to be abusive towards me. I put it in the lease to remind them. I don't tolerate disruptive, abusive, excessive loud, etc. behavior among tenants or their guests. The lease says that a tenants behavior should not disrupt the other tenants, the neighbors, or violate any zoning or convenient rules.

I think it's really how you set the tone with them from the start. Fair but firm.
They pay late? Late fee. Utilities late? See if you can collect late fees for that.

My lease includes house "roommate" rules. Maybe I should have a separate roommate agreement, but I don't.

I don't allow smoking on my property. Not outside either. Lease says "I understand that if I, or my guests, invitees, employees, contractors, smoke on the property or grounds, I will be asked to move within 30 days. Additionally, I will be held responsible for any and all property damage, including, but not limited to, ridding the property of smoke odors."

If she starts getting violent and damaging the house on purpose, you call 911.
I don't need a lease clause for that. If I feel threatened, I call 911.
Then bill her for property damages.

You're renting it out so can't be so emotionally attached to the house. Some wear and a little damage will occur. Security deposits are for this. With wear and tear, you're getting rental income... so some wear is expected. You want to protect your house and screen people well, but can't let it "deeply upset you." It's a house. It's business. Things get damaged. This is a rental- you're making money off it. It's business. Security deposits (or small claims if damage goes above the deposit) offset damages. Normal wear and tear is to be expected when you're renting out a home. It's business, not personal. Repeat.

If your lock sucks, get a better lock. Or put a wireless security camera *IN YOUR ROOM, INSIDE OF YOUR ROOM.* (Not in any common or tenant's areas.)

· Oak Lawn, Illinois

I will... DEFINITELY... switch to month to month, at least for the first few months.

Oh... I set the tone with her, she just completely went back on anything that she said when she was interviewing for the room and in fact, things that she said a week ago about how this guy is a loser that she has to get out of her life.

I will add the part about being held responsible for any property damage from smoking to my lease. I have that it isn't allowed on the premises but that is it.

Our plan as of now:

Tomorrow, she's meeting with my mother (the landlord) and myself. We're going to provide coffee and donuts or something and state that the goal of the meeting is to reach a livable solution for all parties and not to intimidate or demand anything.

The plan, then, is to inform her that this living situation is obviously not working out and that we don't want to go through the trouble of an eviction. Thus, we are offering her to get off scott and debt free and to refund her $18 per day for the remainder of the month if she signs a termination of the lease.

If not, we will serve her with five days notice due to her late utility payment and her lack of a deposit.

I pray that it works out, this time.

Last time, we offered to bring him to a shelter and to give him a wheelchair (since she says he does better with one) and they did not take the offer. We stated that we will have further problems if he does not go to said shelter and as stated, she declined. That was extremely generous of us. My mother even offered to find him a place. We have been more than reasonable and tolerable beyond all reasonable obligation. I just pray that she accepts this offer. I do not want to have to evict her.

Good luck.

Personally, I wouldn't offer her a refund of anything. She'll want more. I wouldn't offer coffee and donuts. I would just say... this situation isn't working. We will let you out of the lease early if you move within 30 days. I would be polite but not sugar coat it.

It's your house. I would be more firm, yet polite. Tell her that yelling is unacceptable. And, utilities have to be paid on time in order for her to continue to live there.

And, that no guest can be at the property without the person who invited them there--- that's a matter of safety of persons and their belongings. She's disturbing other tenants.

I would server her a late notice for late utilities. She shouldn't be able to live there scott free if she didn't pay utilities. There should be a late charge for utilities.

I think the more you try to offer as a bonus-- a refund, helping the homeless man, whatever-- the more she'll take advantage of you. The homeless man isn't your issue to deal with. You don't have to do anything for him. Frankly, I wouldn't. They're both taking advantage of you. Look, it's your house. She's a bully. She's not paying utilities on time. Tell her what is allowed and what isn't acceptable behavior (late payments, yelling, etc.). This can be done politely. Setting the tone is an on-going process. They pay late- you charge them a late fee. They yell- you tell them "We'll discuss this later." Later, you tell them that you will not have your tenants being profane or yelling at you. I told my first bad tenant what was required of them if they continued to live in MY house. When my tenant knew I meant business and was willing to end their lease, their attitude changed. Fast. They did a 180 attitude change overnight.

I wouldn't say "we don't want to evict you." You may or may not have to evict her. If she stops paying and refuses to move, you will have to evict her. Saying "we don't want to evict you" might make her think you fear her. You shouldn't. Tenants should know you're ready, willing, and able to evict them if needed and that you don't put up with b.s. You can be fair, but firm.

If your state is a one-party recording state and you are allowed to record the conversation, I would. I did this with my first bad tenant with an iphone. My state doesn't require that I inform them that the conversation is being recorded, so I didn't. See if yours does.

I doubt you can serve her an eviction notice because she has no deposit. Did you require a deposit? If so, why was she allowed to move in before you had the deposit in hand? Did her deposit check bounce?

What does your lease and local laws say about late utility payments in roommate situations... are you all splitting utilities then you paying the utilities? Does your state allow 5 days notices for late utility payments?

None of what I'm saying is legal advice, of course.

It might be best you talk to a lawyer.

SFR Investor · Wheat Ridge, Colorado

WOW! You guys are playing the "weak landlord" to the hilt!

You MUST take control of the situation. No wonder your tenants walk all over you. You're going to sit down, bring coffee and donuts and negotiate with the tenant? No way!

There is no negotiation here. No offering to find this guy a living space or take him to a shelter. He is NOT your immediate problem. She is. You let her in without a deposit, apparently. She's moved this guy in against your wishes. She's late with utility money. And you're negotiating?

Truly, I think you should consider selling this house and getting out of the landlord business. Being a landlord means being strong and saying "do what I tell you or I will evict you."

This is a crazy plan:

Tomorrow, she's meeting with my mother (the landlord) and myself. We're going to provide coffee and donuts or something and state that the goal of the meeting is to reach a livable solution for all parties and not to intimidate or demand anything.

Tell her what you want her to do. Be sure you understand your lease and are telling her something consistent with the lease. If she's in compliance and you don't like what she's doing, then this is a self-inflicted wound you're just going to have to tolerate until the lease ends. But if she is violating the lease, you need to point out how the lease is being violated and give her a "cure or quit" notice. With as short of a deadline as you can.

You seriously may need to consult with an attorney. Having an attorney to work with on issues like this is just part of the game. If you don't have one, and aren't willing to get one and pay for them, then, again, you should not be in this business. Praying and hoping isn't a business plan.

Jon Holdman, Flying Phoenix LLC

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