Tenants Late On Rent

9 Replies

I recently acquired a four plex that was fully rented. The tenants in the first unit have consistently been problematic. They leave trash outside their unit, they've clogged the pipes with baby wipes, they smoke pot in their unit with the children inside and they don't have any power. They are currently somehow using one of the other tenants power, I don't even know exactly how they are doing this. They are currently late on their rent payment this month and I have asked them kindly to leave before the end of the month at which time I told them I would return their security deposit if all was well with the unit. I told them that if they have not left by the end of the month, they would be evicted. I do not want to go through an eviction process, especially since they have a 2 year old toddler and a new born and I feel they will most likely be protected from having to vacate immediately because of the small children. I have often read that landlords evict their tenants, but my question is what happens if the tenant is irate before they are evicted and they damage your unit? Has this happened to anyone? I'm afraid my tenants may be the type to take revenge on me.

I am also disheartened by the fact that I have worked to keep the building clean, to make it at least one of the better looking buildings on a block that is obviously overrun by inept landlords and that inspite of my efforts, tenants simply don't seem to care about keeping tidy surroundings. I almost feel like setting up a newsletter about the importance of cleanliness and hygiene. I'd like to attribute my tenant's lack of cleanliness and care to their busy schedules, however when I come around most of them are sitting around watching tv, doing nothing at all. How can I help make their neighborhood better, when they won't help themselves.

OK, a little tough love here.

1) Forget about damage or revenge.  Maybe it will happen, probably not.  Or at least not deliberately.  But little you can do to prevent it if it does happen.

2) find an attorney who specializes in landlord/tenant law from the landlord side.

3) figure out the eviction process.  Best to let the attorney handle this the first time.  But some steps are ones you can do.  Maybe there's something that protects them because of the children.  Not likely, but I don't know FL law.  The kids are NOT your problem.

4) Post the "pay or quit" notice.  Tomorrow.   Or exactly however this works in FL.  Waiting for a month with no rent is like putting the cash in the fireplace and lighting it on fire.  You wouldn't do that if you had it in your hand.  Don't do that with money you've not received.

IDK the pay or quit timeline in FL.  Here rent is due on the first and late after the fourth.  If the tenant and I don't have a plan for getting me the rent I post the pay or quit on the morning of the fifth.  Then I can start an eviction on the eighth or the next business day.  Which I will do if we still don't have an agreement and they haven't left.  The one time it got this far they left.

YOU MUST DO THIS ASAP!  This should be the first thing on your agenda tomorrow.

If you don't want to do this I recommend you choose one of two courses of action.  One is to hire a property manager and let them deal with this.  Expensive, but it gets you away from being the bad guy.  The other is to sell.  If you can't do this and don't want to turn it over to a PM this isn't the business for you.

Just saw your added paragraph.  Sounds like this building is in a class C or D area.  If so, you have to learn to deal with the tenant pool for that area.  Making your building nicer than average doesn't mean you will get better tenants.  You may get better than average for the area, but they're still from the same tenant pool as everyone else in the same area.

You're not going to change people.  If you or folks like you buy MOST of the buildings in the area, you might, slowly, change it.  But this isn't the business you're in.  You're a landlord in a C/D area.   That has its own set of challenges.  The trial by fire is in progress.

I evicted a tenant in FL in March, and she had a 5 month old baby. Children are not a consideration in an eviction case. @Jon Holdman 's points are correct. My FL attorney wrote my lease. I posted the Pay or Quit three days after the rent was due. Technically, it's late the day after it's due. The tenant refused to pay and stated so in email. After 3 business days from the Pay or Quit posting, I filed the eviction. The tenant actually told me, "Do what you have to do". 

You can file it yourself if you are very, very detail oriented and follow the instructions to the letter. I did. I actually documented the entire process from start to finish to make sure it went smoothly.

Long story short, the tenant and her baby and teenager were out in a month. Don't wait. Post the Pay or Quit immediately. The longer you wait, the more you lose. My tenant did not trash the place. I was quite surprised but as Jon said, there's nothing you can do about that anyway except maybe give proper notice for an inspection if you want to see what's going on in there. I didn't want the aggravation and just waited until she was out to see what happened.

Definitely have an attorney write your lease; you could have posted Cure or Quit notices for just about everything you listed they were doing and possibly gotten rid of them sooner. The lack of power is a violation in my lease - tenants must maintain utilities. Call the utility company to determine for sure they don't have an account.

Ditto @Jon Holdman and Aly L

Get them out. Pick better tenants next time.

Check out some of the landlord podcasts about how important interviewing and being a firm landlord is.

Also check out landlording on auto pilot book.

@Wendy Diaz 

 this is a good lesson for those that think they can turn C and D into B class. its like trying to marry someone and change them AINT going to happen .. with these tenants and really any tenant you need to follow Jon's advice .. Now to be fair I am the worse landlord in the world and I don't do it anymore because I fall for all the B/S stories.

Your scenario is really normal if indeed your C and D class does not get anybetter over time. The people that will want to live in those areas will all be the same. You cannot vette out great tenants and expect them to live with crap tenants not going to happen.

I would sell and next time buy nicer stuff so you don't have to deal with this.

Eviction is part of the game.

Only 3 possible outcomes.

1. They pay

2. They leave on their own (cash for keys, threat of eviction)

3. Eviction

If they don't choose 1 or 2 then 3 is your only option.

Thanks for all the advice @john holdman @aly l @thomas morgan @jay hinrichs @james wise. I'm fairly happy with my investment, I'm aware its in a C and D area and I guess I just have to get use to the idea that there is so much I can do. The reality is out of the 8 new tenants I acquired in that area, less than half have been a problem and I did process my first eviction about two months ago, did it on my own and had my tenant out in about month. 

@Wendy Diaz  a couple of pointers. To "mention" someone. Type the @ key and at least the first three letters of their name. Those matching will appear at the bottom of the window that enter text into. Select the one you want and keep on typing.

Kudos for handling your own eviction. Saves money and is a good education.

I don't necessarily agree with what people have said about tenants with kids. Some bleeding heart judges will make extra allowances for tenants with small children. It's usually around the holidays and it usually only extends the landlord's agony. You still get your property back but it takes longer.

In most areas, non-payment of rent is a slam dunk for winning an eviction case. It only gets a bit muddy if you are trading services for rent.

Originally posted by @Jon Holdman:

IDK the pay or quit timeline in FL.  Here rent is due on the first and late after the fourth.  If the tenant and I don't have a plan for getting me the rent I post the pay or quit on the morning of the fifth.  Then I can start an eviction on the eighth or the next business day.  Which I will do if we still don't have an agreement and they haven't left.  The one time it got this far they left.

YOU MUST DO THIS ASAP!  This should be the first thing on your agenda tomorrow.

Why would it be late after the 4th and not on the 2nd? Can you specify in the lease that the first late day will be the 2nd?

With that being said, can you deliver the Comply or Quit on the 2nd?

How it works in Louisiana: Avvo's LA Eviction Guide

Forgive any ignorance. 

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