I have a situation unfolding and even though I have a feeling about this already I felt like asking other landlords for their advice... and it doesn't hurt to add stuff like this to my knowledge base. I'm from Fayetteville, NC by the way.
One of my units is now open and just about ready to be rented. A tenant from the local slumlord came by to use the phone and, god bless my wife, turned the woman's complaint about her unit into an advertisement for ours.
Apparently her lease had no pet clause in it, so they bought a dog. After the landlord found out he freaked and brought them to court where the magistrate reviewed the lease and said the same thing about there being no policy saying they couldn't have a pet. The tenant told them they would just move and the magistrate said that was fine.
(Question 1) My worry is that they are breaking their lease and could be lying about this. I personally will not take anyone who breaks a lease. Do magistrates actually do this? and is there a way of double checking to see if there actually was some kind of document to support this?
Continuing on, The current landlord is refusing to return the security deposit to them because he says they are in violation of their lease because of the dog. (Question 2) Should they go to court to force the landlord to return the money?
If there is any other information you need or want to know just ask and I'll fill in anything I forgot. Thanks for reading and I hope to hear from you all soon.
@Chris Pastrana generally speaking, I want my tenants to toe the line even if it's not clearly written and I certainly don't want them taking me to court or fighting me in court. Generally tenants from slumlords are there for a reason and I have yet to find one of those reasons that are acceptable to me. Pass.
Advertise and take applications if they fill one out screen them like you would any applicant.
@Bill S. I definitly will not just take a tenant without running all of the numbers like I would with any other tenant. Thank you for your input on this. I was leaning towards not doing it but wanted other opinions. Thanks for the response
@Chris Pastrana , @Bill S. makes good points. I always have prospective tenants fill out an application. I tell them to fill it out completely. IF something does not apply to them, I tell them to put 'N/A'. At least this way I know they looked at it and are not just being lazy and skipping around. I also tell them that must have at least 3 refernces (combo of personal and professional) as well as current landlord contact info and that they will be called. Basically, if someone has something to hide, you won't get the application back. In my experience, this helps weed out some of the most undesireables right off the bat.
Best of Luck!
@Rob K. won't accept anybody who has had papers filed against them by the landlord, or who has filed papers against a landlord - because it could happen to you next. I mentioned him here because I'm sure he will be happy to elaborate on that.
Originally posted by @Steve Babiak :
@Rob K won't accept anybody who has had papers filed against them by the landlord, or who has filed papers against a landlord - because it could happen to you next. I mentioned him here because I'm sure he will be happy to elaborate on that.
Wow. Red flags galore with this prospect.
"A tenant from the local slumlord came by to use the phone and, god bless my wife, turned the woman's complaint about her unit into an advertisement for ours."
Not having a phone in this day and age is a huge red flag. Who doesn't have a phone?
"Apparently her lease had no pet clause in it, so they bought a dog."
If her lease has a no pet clause, why did she "buy" a dog?
"My worry is that they are breaking their lease and could be lying about this."
Definitely a huge concern.
"Continuing on, The current landlord is refusing to return the security deposit to them because he says they are in violation of their lease because of the dog. (Question 2) Should they go to court to force the landlord to return the money?"
This is a major red flag. Their security deposit problems shouldn't be your problem. The fact that their landlord says they have broken a lease is bad news. If they break this lease, they will break yours too. Usually when there's a landlord tenant dispute, the tenant is in the wrong. Hang out in landlord tenant court one day and see which way most of the cases go.
As @Steve Babiak mentioned, I won't rent to people who have filed papers against a landlord or have had papers filed against them. It's too much drama. If you rent to these people, you will end up in court. I rarely go to court.
I would get as far away from this woman as possible. Then check to make sure you still have your wallet and maybe take an iodine bath.
@Rob K There is only a few things here that may have come off wrong when I posted them. There wasn't a 'no pet policy' there was no policy in the lease that mentioned if having a pet was allowed or not. Also she had a phone, it just broke.
Everything you mentioned is what I told my wife already but I told her that I would be fair and ask for opinions that were not mine.. (Because I'm the husband and am probably wrong for some reason haha) I already wont rent to tenants who break lease. but I didn't even think about the filing papers part..this is why I ask these question ^_^
I wouldn't buy her story. Seems improbable it would go down like that. Oh the tales some prospective tenants will weave! Also, she has a dog. Do you take dogs? We have a no pet policy, so right off the bat she wouldn't meet our minimum criteria. @Bill S. and @Rob K. make some good points.
But hey, @Steve Babiak and Rob K. please don't write off all tenants who have taken a landlord to court as a bad prospect. I've been a renter a few times and I was always a very good tenant. One time, an unscrupulous property management company tried to keep all of my security deposit under false pretenses. I filed against them in small claims court and won back all of my security deposit plus some extra for my filing fee and mileage. Apparently that PM company had been in court many times for the same reason and were just playing the numbers, knowing that most tenants wouldn't bother taking them to court. The clerks at the courthouse knew that very well and weren't surprised to see them again. The PM company had to write a check to the court on the spot and then the court paid me. When the PM "suits" walked away, the apartment manager discreetly gave me a thumbs up and a smile as we were leaving courthouse. He knew what they were up to too.
@Chris Pastrana Like everyone else said, red flags are there for a reason, So I would be opposed to renting to anyone who gives me slightest sign that they think taking me to court will be the resolution for their problems. That being said, I like to go above and beyond to keep my tenants satisfied with the condition that the property. After almost every tenant I learn something more that I should probably put in the lease to protect myself. Your rules on pets (and everything else) need to be clearly stated, this is section 17 from my lease in which I allowed 2 dogs in my unit but was clear about the rules:
17.NO PETS. No animals shall be kept on the Premises without the express prior consent of the Landlord.Landlord reserves the right to require an additional sum to be deposited with the Landlord as security for any harm or damage occasioned by housing such pets upon the Premises.
Damage to premises by a pet include, but are not limited to, scratches, odor, staining, warping or other damage to floor or walls from urine, spilled food/water, or other causes.
Dog feces (“Poop”) shall be cleaned up a minimum of 1 time per week in outdoor areas around the premises.
The following two (2) pet dogs of the tenant, named _____________________ and____________________ shall be allowed.
I have never been to small claims court, but his brings up a question that i was hoping the other posters could answer. :
As a tenant/Landlord, What is the minimum amount of money you would go to Small claims court for in a monetary dispute? I never really think to handle disputes this way and It seems to me like under a certain amount it is waste of time and resources.
@Kevin Fletcher Good question. If you post your question as a separate topic, it would probably fair better, instead of changing the direction of this thread. :-)
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