Legal Guidance -- Issue with Tenant

3 Replies

Hi BiggerPockets!

I am reaching out in hopes to get some guidance in the situation I am currently in. Here is the non-detailed back-story;

Purchased a new 3-family in October and inherited the tenants in the other two units (I would be living in one). That said, I took over the previous landlords lease, which was a skeleton lease of 3 pages. Not much was being protected. 

After 2 months of living there (I lived above one of the units rented) I would witness the tenant literally screaming, cursing, and being verbally abusive to her two sons (4 years old and 7 years old) - loud noises all day and night, etc. Now, I know it's not my business what she does with her life or children but after bringing this to her attention, multiple times, it kept going. I also have received numerous complaints from the tenant next to them. And not just complaining complaints, like scary, nasty complaints that I wont even get into. 

I moved out of the unit in January as I found someone to rent and in the first month of the new tenant living there they too filed a complaint against the below tenant as they heard verbally abusive behavior as well. Again, I alerted the tenant and of course, she denied everything, etc. etc. A handful of other things have happened to, which completely put a bad taste in my mouth (IE: she asked if her niece and her nieces baby could move in for a month and I said no - she didn't listen and they moved in - technically she broke her lease right then and there but I let it slide knowing her lease was going to expire) (she thought another tenant knocked her garbage can and grill over -- when it was just the wind). IT GOES ON..

So, in December I gave her a 60-day notice for renewing or vacate with a new rental price $100 more than what she was paying (I raised it in hopes she would vacate). In a fury text, she said she wasn't going to be staying but I took it with a grain of salt because I needed her signed vacate or renew sheet to be able to issue her a new lease. 

That said, she actually signed and said she would be renewing the new rental price. So then, I put together a rather long and inclusive lease which was about 20 pages. I wanted to protect myself, my other tenants and my property. I put clauses in the lease that would make her clean up her act if she was going to stay and protect me if I needed to evict her. I took lead from other RE Investors who have long leases to protect them and their property.

Her lease expires end of this month and she still has not signed the new lease. I texted her the beginning of last week and she said that she was going to have an attorney look at the lease since it was 'SO LONG" and she had questions. I said, Ok Great - let me know by Friday....(she never let me know). If she didn't have a guilty conscious she would have signed the lease and been done with it...

Being as I still do not have a signed lease, my question is -- if by the end of the month I still do not have the signed lease, according to her previous lease, her contract will go month-to-month and either tenant or landlord can give a 30-day notice to vacate. If by the end of the month she doesn't sign, I assume I am allowed to tell her to vacate within 30 days? I just don't want her to turn into a squatter or I also do not want to have to evict her. She has been a nightmare and I just want to be rid of her at this point. 

Any help or guidance is very appreciated. 

Your big mistake was acting without consulting a lawyer.  If you really wanted the tenant to vacate, you should have advised in writing that you were not going to renew the lease.  Now you have written your own lease that may contain some illegal or unenforceable clauses.  

Suggest you consult a local attorney now about your leases, your tenant, and your responsibility to report the compaints about potential child abuse to the appropriate authorities.  

As a landlord, you may have an obligation to report abuse complaints you received from your other tenants, but get your attorney's advice first, and soon.

Definitely make sure your lease is legal if you haven’t already.

In my state regardless of the clauses in the lease if the tenant stays past the period of the lease in continues month to month. You should know if your state is the same but if you lease states the lease continues month to month after it is up that should be legal.

That said now is not the time to mess around. I would immediately give notice to vacate withdrawal your offer for a new lease in writing. Both sent certified mail. Then prepare for a possible eviction. You may decide to go the cash for keys route but I would price out an attorney for an eviction anyway.

What they said...

Having recently removed a tenant (different circumstances) for threatening behaviour. I was concerned for my other tenants and you have to consider yours. If she does anything to them it can be on you. 

Cash for keys, sometimes better to loose out now for a better future for all.