need advice on a tenant that wont give me a key

7 Replies

Hey everyone. So I am a new investor and bought a few properties this year and things have been mostly good. The last property I purchased is a nice low income unit. The tenant was inherited. I realize i should have gotten her out as soon as possible but I let her stay. The seller insisted I let her stay saying she always paid on time etc, so I agreed. She was evicted in June from her previous place. Today I looked her up again and 2 months ago she sued the landlord who evicted her. So I am trying to be very careful about this. She is on a month to month lease. She is now complaining about mold growth on a wall. My maintenance people and I plan to bleach and kill the mold then prime and paint. She got some mold tests and is telling me this is  not the best way to fix it. The mold is not due to negligence on my part. This is in Charleston SC so humidity is around 100%. She didnt pay her power bill for several months so the power company cut off power from Oct 3-30th. So no AC would be the reason for mold growth. She has refused to let my handyman come in for a week or so. We are going there tomorrow to fix this problem. Also the front door has 2 locks, one has a code and the other is a key. I have the code but not the  key. I told her to have me a key when we got there. She said "do i have to provide that?" So my plan is to also change the lock while we are there and give her the key. That way I have one as well. I am not locking her out or anything like that, just making sure I have a key as well. When I google this everything that comes up talks about landlords locking their tenants out, but I cant find anything on this. Is this ok? I also plan on giving her her 30 day notice so having a key to the place would be nice. Im pretty sure she is gonna file a civil suit so really want to watch my steps. Any advice? Thanks

Inheriting tenants is not up there on my wish list.Never let the seller talk you into keeping someone on, it may be more to their advantage than yours.Seems you have inherited a nightmare tenant.Couple of things are outright concerning here:1.I never allow tenants to change locks and I will always have a copy of the key to be able to get into the unit as needed.I do however work to provide notice when feasible, not always possible in the event of an emergency but this is also detailed in the lease agreement;2.The mold defense is one if not careful tenants will try to use against you.Closing on a house where the existing tenant (that we are inheriting……yes, I know, I know, I had to keep one to avoid double vacancies) reported mold.I insisted that we do a test before closing as I did not want to take on that liability.No mold found and we have the professional report from mold testing lab and inspector;3.Prior evictions?I guess this is a lesson for me too, run background checks on all that you are inheriting just so you know what you are getting into.I have not done this on those I am inheriting and might not be a bad idea;4.30 day notice, why not do a 3 day notice to quit?Why wait 30 days with the problems you are having already?Just my thought.Sorry you have to go through this, seems it is the initiation for newbie landlords, I went through it, but came out alive…..shaken but alive.You will get through it, @Jordan Parker.You have come to the right place.There are lot of smart people here and they will help us all newbies.Hang in there J

Or if she'll let you borrow the key, you run to the store with it and make a copy. But yeah, as long as you stay within your local laws and do any CYA (cover your ...) you can think of, you'll be fine. Definitely give her that 30 day notice in writing. Except her to possibly react negatively, but just keep your cool and don't respond with any emotion. She might not also pay rent between now and moving out, so I'd recommend filing for the first step of eviction the moment she is late on rent. This way, if she doesn't move out by the 30 days, you have at least started the eviction process instead of wasting time hoping she leaves on her own.

A 3 day notice to quit may or may not even be an option in his area depending on his rental laws. And those are typically for nonpayment of rent, not to just end a month to month lease.

Hello, @Jordan Parker .

You will hear from experts on this site, get ready to take great notes! First and foremost DOCUMENT everything. Make sure every single thing that happens between you and this tenant is documented fully. Times, dates, if anyone was there (witnesses). Having these "Ducks in a Row" (Documentation) surely will hold water in court and will speak volumes.

If you can, videos as well, but research that. Again, you will hear from experts on this site, that will dwarf my expertise, but this much I know.....DOCUMENT!

This tenant sounds like a professional "Train~Wreck".  Get her out!  :)

Best to you!

Daniel F. Harb

@Jordan Parker I agree with the other folks here. Just keep every scrap of every interaction you have with her. You may even want to try to somehow document your visit just in case. If you were to have to go to court, it's likely that would win as it doesn't sound as though you've been negligent. She sounds difficult and I would probably not renew her lease, but be weary to rush her out if she has a history of litigation.

Have a lawyer sending letters out. If you try to help you can get sued by sue savvy tenants.

Be sure to post your 24 hour notice to enter (or whatever is required by your state laws) before you show up to change the locks. I had a inherited tenant who complained about mold in her bathroom. I took her at her word. Gave her a 30 day notice, since I did not want to chance my tenant or her children getting sick. We did a total remodel of the unit, fixed the leaking toilet and rotted sub floor. Raised the rent and got an awesome new tenant. You should consider doing the same. Can't take any chances with anyone's health! ;)

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