Tenant has no electricity and house smells

3 Replies

I just heard from my neighbors that the tenant has no electricity and is having some issues with power company so he is living without electricity and is also planning to move out. Additionally there is an awful smell as he left some chicken in the fridge which has mad a stinking smell thorough out the house and even into the walls. 

I have never inspected this unit how should I handle this as I just heard about it from someone. Is there anything I need to do before he gives me a notice so I have proof or can hold him responsible if thats possible.

I am not too informed from a legal perspective but perhaps reaching out to him personally would be a good start. And keep some kind of documented records (with names, dates, etc...) regarding what the neighbors conveyed to you and detailing your discussions with your tenant. At the very least you will have this to use as a bargaining chip when making the decision to keep the entire deposit or if you do go to court...

I'd go over there and do an inspection including pic/video documentation. Cure any issues that may cause residual damages ie. throwing out all the rotting food and discuss with the tenant when they plan on moving out or getting things back on track.

So I'm curious is this tenant current on their rent? I'd think if they've gotten to the point of not having electricity they'd be pretty behind on rent too.

When a tenant's utilities are shut off it is usually a sign of more bad things to come.  Definitely serve a Notice to Enter as soon as you can!  Regular inspections should be part of your normal operating procedure to catch things before they get this bad.

Some things to look for when a tenant's electricity turned off.... top of the list are the fire hazards: burning candles for light, using outdoor grills inside for cooking, burning wood for heat, getting electricity from neighbors via extension cords.  Next are the health and safety hazards: rotting food in the refrigerator, as well as carbon monoxide producers such as the grills, propane heaters, and extensive use of the fire place.  

Check all the smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they are in working order and that the batteries haven't been removed. In the winter, in colder climates, make sure your unit is kept at a temperature no less than 50 degrees, otherwise there is the potential for freezing pipes and structural damage.

Twice we have found candle burn marks under kitchen cabinets and wax drippings in carpets after tenants had their electricity cut. Once we found a tenant had hooked up an extension cord from a neighboring apartment (with that other tenant's permission)... the orange heavy duty outdoor extension cord trailed into the apartment and was hooked up to a power strip and multiple other light duty extension cords ran off the power strip to a lamp in the bathroom, a lamp in the living room, the stove, and the refrigerator. It was a wonder the neighbors circuit breaker didn't trip and it was definitely a fire hazard.

Don't be shy... address this issue swiftly!

Marcia Maynard, Fischer Properties | Podcast Guest on Show #83