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Richard Perez
  • Florida
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Tenant that won’t leave an inherited house

Richard Perez
  • Florida
Posted Feb 10 2024, 19:00

My wife’s mother recently passed away and inherited her house via a lady bird deed, along with her 2 brothers. The house had 3 tenants living in it, paying rent to her mother on a hand shake deal to rent out a single room each. Between the siblings, they decided one brother was going to move in and buy out the other 2. That brother then went to the house and gave the tenants a verbal notice that they would have through end of February to vacate the property (this was at the beginning of January, momma passed away at the beginning of December). One tenant has left, the other is planning on leaving this next coming week, giving no problems whatsoever. Here’s where things get tricky..

The third tenant first said she would be out by end of January, and then gave an excuse why she hadn’t left. Then she said she would be leaving a week later once the new place she was moving into was ready, but still no movement from her. Mind you this lady has not paid rent since before my mother in law passed (November). Given the excuses, the way she’s been calling one sibling after another, and the way she’s been playing the he said she said game, we felt she was trying to figure out a way to stay. My wife, tired of the tenant taking advantage of the kindness to let her stay so far, told her via text that since the rent had not been paid since December, she must vacate by the next week, Wednesday, 2/14 (sent this message on Saturday 2/9). The lady refused and said have the courts send me a notice to vacate. 

My questions: does the text message constitute written notice to vacate the tenant? There is no lease or contract that the lady has to even be living in the house at this point. Second, how do we proceed to make sure we don’t end up with a squatter situation?

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Theresa Harris
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Theresa Harris
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Replied Feb 10 2024, 19:53

I'm sorry for your loss.  Give the tenant notice in writing. As they have not been paying rent, also tell them if they aren't out, you will start an eviction.  Another option is you can pay her $500 to get out now and leave the place in good condition-do not hand over money until she's out and you've got the keys.

She's also only renting a room, so there is nothing stopping you from moving in and occupying the rest of the house.

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Adam Martin
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Adam Martin
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Replied Feb 10 2024, 21:26

This is a 2 part answer, pay attention to the first, the second is a joke but it does make it more interesting since they are paying for only a room which opens up temptation, don't fall for it.  The first thing I would do is issue an official notice stating how much they owe as well as a lease termination and if they don't pay it within the period prescribed by your state and leave they are being evicted and or sued in small claims for the past due rent.  The second is let them know that you fully intend to go through with the eviction however if they can be out by next Sunday you will cancel and forgive all debts.  You aren't going to see the money anyway but remind them that finding housing after this is going to be next to impossible and staying is just kicking the can down the road which may be a long one for them with an eviction on their record.  If this doesn't work then file the eviction and be sure the proper documentation has been served officially.  Since they are only renting the room you are able to have your brother move on in, if possible have another sibling move into the 3rd bedroom as well mostly just for a second set of eyes.  Go through the process and don't fall into the temptation to fall into a self help eviction and end up having to pay them money.  If you all don't move in I'd install locks on the doors to empty rooms with cameras you can monitor remotely, you don't want them moving in any extra people or having extra space to damage.  

Part 2 the fun one: Don't do this.

They are only renting a portion of the house, still have 2 or better all 3 siblings rent the other 2 rooms.  Still file the eviction but a persistent reminder to leave at every passing, maybe even one of those retirement countdown clocks until the eviction hearing.  The common area is for the common good make sure you all get to enjoy it.  Does anyone like anything weird because maybe you could share your interests on the common tv.  Everyone needs basic nutrition and the average American is deficient in many nutrients that can be found in fish.  Cook plenty and don't be so picky with your leftovers where you are free to microwave them for a quick on the go bite on the way to wherever you are going to get out of the house.  Same with broccoli and brussel sprouts that stuff is great for you.  You may also want to broaden your pallet and experiment with certain ethnic dishes.  They have decibel readers on Amazon and counties have noise ordinances, don't go over them but it is not illegal to go right up to them.  If parking is at a premium, make sure that you all are getting the best spots.  What does your state/county say about hability standards and temperature because a nest thermostat may help you all pay utilities if they are in your name, don't go below or under the legal limit and don't risk your pipes.  Also, a lot of hot water heaters can be turned down where there is still hot water but not a lot to save the environment and your utility bills.

Really though it is fun to fantasize but keep it at that and it sounds like this person is either in a bad situation themselves or taking advantage of yours.  File the eviction and the process there aren't any shortcuts outside of cash for keys which is another avenue.  Is this person working because this may be the route to go if they have no income and no ability to leave but assuming they are working offer the clean slate leave first and see what happens.  

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Nathan Gesner
  • Real Estate Broker
  • Cody, WY
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Nathan Gesner
  • Real Estate Broker
  • Cody, WY
ModeratorReplied Feb 11 2024, 05:27
Quote from @Richard Perez:

Unfortunately, even a verbal agreement constitutes an agreement. If you want her out, you need to start the eviction process. A text message is unlikely to constitute legal notice.

As stated by Theresa, I would give her a choice, in writing:

1. Move out by [DATE], and I will pay you $XXX in cash.

2. Face eviction through the court, in which case I will seek a judgment for all unpaid rent and other charges, including attorney fees.

Give that to her in writing and make her sign her choice. If she refuses to sign, then make a note that you presented it and she rejected it, then hand her the 3-day Pay or Quit (or whatever your state requires) and start the eviction clock.

If this is your first time, it's best to hire an attorney and do it right.

  • Property Manager Wyoming (#12599)

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Rick Pozos
  • Wholesaler, Rehabber and Landlord
  • San Antonio, TX
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Rick Pozos
  • Wholesaler, Rehabber and Landlord
  • San Antonio, TX
Replied Feb 11 2024, 07:45

I don't know what state you are in because you did not fill out your profile, but in Texas you can give a 30 day notice to vacate when you dont have a lease or on month to month. That is what should have been done. But now that we are here maybe have a real heart to heart with her. Let her know that Mom passed away and that you guys really want to live in the house.

Try all of the things mentioned above and more. First start the 3 day notice to vacate for past due rent. At the same time, Cash for keys with the heartfelt story. If that does not work while the eviction is in process make it uncomfortable for the tenant: noise, temperature...

I have to say that bad tenants annoy the crap out of me. We provide above and beyond. When they take advantage they tend to see our WRATH!!!

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Richard Perez
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Richard Perez
  • Florida
Replied Feb 12 2024, 14:07
Quote from @Adam Martin:

This is a 2 part answer, pay attention to the first, the second is a joke but it does make it more interesting since they are paying for only a room which opens up temptation, don't fall for it.  The first thing I would do is issue an official notice stating how much they owe as well as a lease termination and if they don't pay it within the period prescribed by your state and leave they are being evicted and or sued in small claims for the past due rent.  The second is let them know that you fully intend to go through with the eviction however if they can be out by next Sunday you will cancel and forgive all debts.  You aren't going to see the money anyway but remind them that finding housing after this is going to be next to impossible and staying is just kicking the can down the road which may be a long one for them with an eviction on their record.  If this doesn't work then file the eviction and be sure the proper documentation has been served officially.  Since they are only renting the room you are able to have your brother move on in, if possible have another sibling move into the 3rd bedroom as well mostly just for a second set of eyes.  Go through the process and don't fall into the temptation to fall into a self help eviction and end up having to pay them money.  If you all don't move in I'd install locks on the doors to empty rooms with cameras you can monitor remotely, you don't want them moving in any extra people or having extra space to damage.  

Part 2 the fun one: Don't do this.

They are only renting a portion of the house, still have 2 or better all 3 siblings rent the other 2 rooms.  Still file the eviction but a persistent reminder to leave at every passing, maybe even one of those retirement countdown clocks until the eviction hearing.  The common area is for the common good make sure you all get to enjoy it.  Does anyone like anything weird because maybe you could share your interests on the common tv.  Everyone needs basic nutrition and the average American is deficient in many nutrients that can be found in fish.  Cook plenty and don't be so picky with your leftovers where you are free to microwave them for a quick on the go bite on the way to wherever you are going to get out of the house.  Same with broccoli and brussel sprouts that stuff is great for you.  You may also want to broaden your pallet and experiment with certain ethnic dishes.  They have decibel readers on Amazon and counties have noise ordinances, don't go over them but it is not illegal to go right up to them.  If parking is at a premium, make sure that you all are getting the best spots.  What does your state/county say about hability standards and temperature because a nest thermostat may help you all pay utilities if they are in your name, don't go below or under the legal limit and don't risk your pipes.  Also, a lot of hot water heaters can be turned down where there is still hot water but not a lot to save the environment and your utility bills.

Really though it is fun to fantasize but keep it at that and it sounds like this person is either in a bad situation themselves or taking advantage of yours.  File the eviction and the process there aren't any shortcuts outside of cash for keys which is another avenue.  Is this person working because this may be the route to go if they have no income and no ability to leave but assuming they are working offer the clean slate leave first and see what happens.  

Good stuff.. I personally love Brussel sprouts and most types of fish, and might have my rock band buddies run some practice sessions in the living room in the middle of the night too.. lol

In all seriousness, thanks for the advice everybody, she claims she’ll be leaving by Thursday but I’m ready to lawyer up to get her gone if need be. My wife’s family has been more than gracious to this lady in not charging her for the past 2 months and even giving her back her “security deposit” she claims she gave my mother in law even though we have no proof of such, so my patience has run thin with this lady and being kind is all good but she’s taking advantage at this point and, THAT, I don’t appreciate. 

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Nathan Gesner
  • Real Estate Broker
  • Cody, WY
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Nathan Gesner
  • Real Estate Broker
  • Cody, WY
ModeratorReplied Feb 13 2024, 04:40
Quote from @Richard Perez:

It's a rent-by-the-room situation, so there's no reason why you couldn't rent the other rooms (and the kitchen and the living room) to some loud, obnoxious partiers.
  • Property Manager Wyoming (#12599)

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