Today, I got a call from one of my tenants saying that he smells smoke in his apartment and he called the fire department. When I got there, the fire department located and extinguished the fire. It was at the base of the building, where the foundation and rim joist meet. They extinguished the fire and said that it was caused by a cigarette butt. There were 100’s of cigarette butts laying directly around the area.
There is a young couple with a toddler in the 2nd floor studio apartment directly above. I get noise complaints about them on a regular basis. They refuse to control their toddler and have told me this to my face. They are heavy smokers and they go out onto the 2nd floor deck and throw the butts on their wood deck and on the cement patio below. I am 99.9% sure that this was caused by one of their cigarette butts.
I have asked them on several occasions, face to face not in writing, to not throw their cigarette butts on the ground. They say that they won’t anymore, but they continue to throw them everywhere.
Additional info: They are on a month-to-month lease and are always 3-4 days late with the rent. I have everyone else set up on electronic rent pay thru Cozy, but they refuse because they don’t have a checking/savings account. They pay rent with a certified check. The young couple and their toddler live in a studio apartment. I inherited these tenants with the apartment.
I’m trying to figure out what my options are given that it is the middle of winter and the COVID-19 is still going on. Any suggestions?
I'm assuming that there was not enough damage to get your insurance company involved.
Sounds like the best solution is for these tenants to be gone. You aren't controlling them and they don't care. Since they are M2M lease, give them the required 30/60 days notice of non-renewal. I'd also get the eviction paperwork started. You'll probably need to go this route.
You can also change terms in the lease with proper notice. Make it a non-smoking unit including the balcony and have wording about noise. Increase the rent, etc...
Sounds like you need to talk to an Illinois lawyer on getting them out even during COVID. A moratorium does not prevent all tenants from leaving their apartments. The normal thing to do would be to file a non-renewal on the month to month and if they holdover then you evict. What you can do depends on your state's laws. You can/should always serve them notice of any lease violation and I would start doing that in writing now. I imagine that throwing butts on a wood deck is a lease violation. And if they are the only smokers they started the fire.
Thanks for the feedback. I think my best option is to not renew their M/M lease and ideally I should have them out by March 31st which is more than the 30 day minimum notice. I'm hoping that they won't trash the place before they leave.
@Brian Detlefsen Is it a lease violation for the tenants to smoke in or about the premises? If not, is it a lease violation not to dispose of cigarettes in a safe manner? If this is not in your lease then I would include it. Once you have this in your lease you can address specific lease violations that everyone is aware of and be in a position to enforce the lease. It is important to be fair and in my opinion, the way to be fair is to have these things covered in the lease.
They need to be gone in a legal manner. Can't evict due to covid so issue a 10 day notice for the smoking damages.
The problem with calling your insurance company is it generates a claim and can get you cancelled if you have to many.
ALWAYS require your residents to have renter's insurance. If documented losses occur you can get their liability insurance to pay for the damages on an Actual Cash Value Basis not subject to your deductible.