I Hate Dirt Bag Tenants: Scam Alert This Happened to a Friend of Ours

8 Replies

I wanted to alert the BP community to something that is going on in Arizona and is a scam by tenants looking to break their lease.

Our friend rented a house to someone that was a little odd and a bit of a allergy freak.  After moving in he claimed his wife had to live in the backyard in a tent due to allergies in the house.  Our rental market is strong and our friend told the renter that he would let him out of the lease (guy was a major PITA) but the tenant would be responsible for damages of lost rent and turnover fees.  He then listed the house for rent and a week latter the tenant calls and says they want to stay so our friend cancels the listing (this was early April)

Here is where the scam part comes in,  a few weeks latter the tenant sends our friend a letter with over 300 "problems" with the house.  Legally a landlord has 5-10 days to respond to the letter, from the date it is mailed.  The idea here is to overwhelm the landlord with complaints so you can't meet the response deadline and then claim you are a deadbeat landlord and sue you for damages.

Now to make things interesting it turns out that the renter bought a house a few streets over before filing his list of complaints.   This could go to court or not but the lawyer did have some good advise on these things.  

Most tenants pulling this scam will, try to use the 48 hour access period to push you outside your requirement for a 5 day response, according to my understanding of  the lawyers advise, here in Arizona the tenant letter listing the problems grants you that access.

Who else has had a tenant try to sleaze their way out of a lease?  I Would like to hear what other tenants have tried.

Disclamer, I am not a lawyer, this is not legal advice.

I'm not sure how this would help the tenant too much if you are a good landlord to begin with. It might be a decent bluff strategy for a tenant but wouldn't work too well in my opinion.

I have been a landlord since 2006 and while I have asked a couple to leave, none have tried any scams on me but ai am usually pretty reasonable and don't give them a reason. 

@Bob E.

As an investor with rentals and property manager managing rental for others, both for over 10 years, I have seen the good, the bad, the ugly, and the really ridiculous... 

There are a few things which will cause constructive eviction, but most of the time scammers are using the little things, 300 of them according to your post, to try and create a problem.

Why would a tenant with so many issues and problems want to stay in the property? There is no reason unless the issues and problems were falsified.

I would simply ask the tenant how he or she was able to live in such a deplorable property. The real answer is "we lived here because it was fine but we wanted to create a problem so we pretended there was one, or 300, just to get out of paying rent and being responsible until we moved on to the next unsuspecting landlord" but of course he or she won't say that. 

I don't know the law in AZ. I know the law in MO and KS. If the landlord is genuinely taking care of the rental property, and can prove it through documentation, photos, receipts, etc., it will be hard for the tenant to prevail and or prove any problem was bad enough to prevail in court, especially if the tenant to chose to stay once I granted a release on the lease agreement. Again, there is constructive eviction for slumlords but investors on BP are not slumlords right! In any market taking the right steps will help offset tenant problems later. Not prevent, just diminish, hopefully :)

@BOB E.

It certainly sounds counter intuitive that they would want to stay with so many "issues".  A quick call to your R.E. attorney followed up by a leave now and I won't press charges, counter sue, then get a judgment against you that will be attached to your new home might work?!?!

This guy has left and is asking for $2500 in "damages".  Mostly it looks like a way to get the deposit back from the landlord.  Not sure if he is going to take it to court or just move on.  If it was me I would move on but some people are more stubborn then others.

Try and hone your 'red flag' skills while showing the property. Nit-pickers and super-sensitive types can be as much trouble as dirtbags that don't pay and are pigs. After vetting them with multiple e-mail questions, when I finally show the dwelling, I seek out and avoid the folks that want to change a bunch of things right off the bat and/or over-react to small things.  Recently had a lady make a bunch of requests, then cover her mouth and nose with her shirt when shown the basement that didn't even have a mildew smell.  Next!  

Thanks for the post and the warning @Bob E. !

I Wonder how the credit check, criminal record and income verification went (when landlord did that). May be, there was a problem to start with and no one really cared or recognized.

Still, good to know.

Tent in back yard due to allergies wasn't a red flag here?

Tent was AFTER they moved in.   

Background came in OK.   No evictions or bad credit.

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