New Landlord, Crazy tenant

11 Replies

Hey guys, So my wife and I recently purchased a 3 unit house. Unfortunately, it appears to have come with a crazy tenant in one of the units.

Short version is we are worried one of the tenants might do significant damage to the property / our vehicles in the parking lot. He yells at us repeatedly for really insignificant things (he just looks for reasons to be mad). Then we noticed small tools missing from the basement (which everyone has access too for the washer/dryer), damage to our cable wires, and my mother in laws tire was popped purposely by someone while she was here.

He obviously did all of this but we cant prove it.

The only thing that could of provoked him has been contractors occasionally blocking his car in the parking lot, but we are always there and can quickly move it if he asks, and he purposely parks in the only spot where he would get blocked in. If he does all that just from getting blocked in the driveway, what is he going to do when we evict him?

What are our options? How can we handle this situation? Even after he is evicted we are worried he will come back to damage the place.

Our lawyer suggested putting a lock on the basement and only opening it at certain times or installing security cameras. The lock seems like it wont help unless its locked 24/7 and we had a security guy come look at the house yesterday and can install cameras but it will cost almost 2k.

Is there anything we can do besides the security cameras? Its a good neighborhood so they will probably never be needed again (besides to make sure he doesn't come back). I'm sure security cameras would work but after searching this forum it seems other landlords are able to deal with similar problems without them...?

Thanks for any help, I tried to keep this short so if you need more details just let me know.

Hey @Kevin Cas I'd tell him "Look Bob" (or whatever his name is. Probably best not to call him Bob if his name is Jim. He'll steal more tool! Anyways...) "Look Bob, this isn't really working out, and we plan to do some upgrades to your unit, so here's what I think we should do. I don't want to be a jerk and just make you move, but we both know this isn't going well. So instead of me going through the process of evicting you, what if I just offered you $500 to be gone, with your home in perfect condition, by Friday at noon. This way, it's a win win for all."

I'd try the "pay him off" technique first.

Also - do you have a lease or is it month to month? If month to month, you could always just give him notice to leave. He might not, but then you could offer him cash.

Thoughts? (I know the cash for keys idea is not always popular, but it works - and in a case like this, it could be much cheaper and more stress free in the long run. )

I would not elaborate about not working out, just put a combo lock on the basement door and do not give him the combination! Than i would tell him that my investor partners want me to renovate the place starting with his unit, but you want to make his move a bit more pleasant, so here is the $500 if you go this and this date :)

.Ps we do not know if you have Yearly, or M to M lease. If you are on a Yearly lease than just got to wait it out!


Brandons idea of cash for keys seems like a good one. The big "if' is can you have a civil conversation with this person. I have tried that in the past but also had good sucsess if they are month to month just raising the rent and costing them out.

One other poster suggested security cameras. Yes ,yes,yes, Get that going. You can get wireless ones at Lowes and other places. If you catch him breaking any laws you have him by the ---s. You then have incredible leverage over him to exit nicely.

Good Luck

Kevin the biggest part of this is you are in New York so I am assuming the property is there as well.

The other posters are relaying experiences based on rentals it sounds like are in other states.

In that case you need to first assess what the eviction laws are local to you and timelines to get tenants out. It makes a huge difference if in a pro landlord or pro tenant area and if any rent control laws exist. Knowing whether it takes 1 month or 3 to 4 months is critical when looking at your cash flow options and the money you pay for a property

With the cameras 2,000 is a lot. I would look at talking to many different companies. Someone is hungry for business and you might be able to get a much better price. The tenant might just actually be crazy and do weird things when off their meds and then be normal the next minute. This is why it is critical to know and vet tenants you take over before closing on a property. The new landlords eventually get them out but do not factor in that cost to their offer price.

@Jay C. Even if you can get rid of someone, with the law on your side, experience shows, it does pay to be decent with a resident of your investment property.Just a little civility, could save you thousands in plumbing, electrical, and fire and water cleanup and vacancy costs.......

I like the cash for keys in this situation, much cheaper then cameras that he will break anyway. Can you also get a key code lock on the basement, I know some have the ability to track who is entering.

Thanks for the replies.I guess I missed the obvious solution of trying to talk with him, I will try that tonight and offer him money to move out on his own.

He is in a lease until November, and its a very poorly written lease.

We would love to lock the basement but his lease states he has access to the washer/dryer which are in the basement so I don't believe we can lock them out entirely... key code lock sounds very interesting, thanks


Yes being civil is important. I dont recall anywhere in my post where I said otherwise. In the end this is a buisness. If a tennant has crossed the line the landlord will be forced to take steps to protect the investment. Most of the time it goes pretty easy. You have to be prepared for the times it does not. From the original post it sounds like this tennant has no regard for anyone else in the structure. So yes you go in with good intentions but sometimes that does not work. You have to be able to do it the hard way from time to time or hire some who can if you dont have the stomach for it. Its a buisness, not personal. These tennants, they are not your friends. Its a buisness relationship and nothing more. The sugar approach is always best but the salt shaker I always keep in the glove box if need be.

Cash for keys is the best option. But if he's on a month-to-month you can not renew his lease or if he's done something outrageous, in many states you can evict them over that (although it varies how this process works). I would consult your attorney on this matter if cash for keys doesn't work.

First, I'd put any tools and anything that can be "lifted" into a secured area. It's not that hard to cordon off a section of the basement and put a lock on it- certainly less than 2k. And be rigorous about putting all tools back there. He probably did steal the tools, BUT you need to be aware that it's awfully easy to misplace stuff like that and then jump to conclusions... especially once suspicion/conflict has started to develop. You are the one who needs to keep their cool here, and not rise to any bait. Stay calm and professional.
There are cameras that are available (battery operated, motion activated, all sorts of cool stuff) for a lot less than that, if you decide to go that way. If you can catch him sabotaging something, that would certainly strengthen an eviction case, I'm sure.


One last point. In the rental scene when things happen you need to address them sooner rather than later. Be prepared for these type of things to come up from time to time. Same as when the rents late. You have to go thru a system to maintain within the law. This guy having been there before you may just be showing a little squaters rights on the property. Have a talk with the guy and let him know what he can expect from you. You may not need him out. If he has a lease thats up at the end of Nov and it remains tough you may let him know in writting you are going to renovate the property and Nov is the end of the road. He may elect to go sooner if you put that in writing. Good Luck

Create Lasting Wealth Through Real Estate

Join the millions of people achieving financial freedom through the power of real estate investing

Start here