How would you handle this tough landlording scenario?

9 Replies

I just purchased a house as a part of a package.  The bad house has a bad tenant with no lease, she's impossible to reach, and a ton of people are living in the house.  The house is in disrepair too.  I don't have keys to the house either.

Water is in seller's name, so that should be shut off soon.  Without a lease, she can't get it turned back on.

I've been calling daily and have stopped by a couple of times.  Today, I left my card with her oldest daughter (adult).  

I only have the word of the seller as to the rent amount of $600 -- $200 a month below market.  

House is in a tough part of town so a vacancy could become pretty expensive, but I'm happy to risk it.

My next step was to start the eviction process as a catalyst for getting the conversation going since I can't seem to get a return phone call or catch her at home.  At some point, I'll pay cash for keys rather than duke it out in court without history or a lease.

What would you do? 

Does she pay rent? Talk to her when she pays the rent. If she does not pay the rent start the eviction process. 

I agree the crux of the issue is when/if/how she pays rent. 

Originally posted by @Rick Baggenstoss :

What would you do? 

 I don't think you would do what I would do. ;-)

What you should do is wait until the first of July when rent is due and visit the house to collect the rent.  If she doesn't pay, wait until the 3rd or 5th or 7th day (whatever is the law in GA) and deliver a pay or quit notice.  If she doesn't pay after that, begin the legal eviction process.

On the other hand, if she pays the July rent on time, and subsequently pays the monthly rent on time, I'd be tempted to leave her in the house for the time being.  The house may be renting for under market value, but if the house was a throw in as part of a package deal, it's nothing but bonus money for you and you don't have to spend any money immediately to fix up the place.  When the time comes for her to move later on, you can spend your money to rehab the house.  You say the house is in a bad part of town that you might have to worry about vandalism during a vacancy.  If that's true, why rush to a vacancy if the current tenant is willing to pay to stay?

I bought the house at the beginning of the month so she should have paid rent to me.  I've chased for a week or so to no avail.  Normally I'd issue pay or quit right away, but I wanted to say 'hi' first and tell her how to pay rent.  

Since her water will be cut off, I'm also sensitive to that since landlords can't do that directly.  I'm not directly doing it, but I don't know how she'll keep it on without my help.

I'll try again tomorrow then initiate the process Monday.

Thanks for the quick responses!

Originally posted by @Rick Baggenstoss :

I just purchased a house as a part of a package.  The bad house has a bad tenant with no lease, she's impossible to reach, and a ton of people are living in the house.  The house is in disrepair too.  I don't have keys to the house either.

Water is in seller's name, so that should be shut off soon.  Without a lease, she can't get it turned back on.

I've been calling daily and have stopped by a couple of times.  Today, I left my card with her oldest daughter (adult).  

I only have the word of the seller as to the rent amount of $600 -- $200 a month below market.  

House is in a tough part of town so a vacancy could become pretty expensive, but I'm happy to risk it.

My next step was to start the eviction process as a catalyst for getting the conversation going since I can't seem to get a return phone call or catch her at home.  At some point, I'll pay cash for keys rather than duke it out in court without history or a lease.

What would you do? 

I agree with @Dawn Anastasi . Evict. I am not one who is quick to evict, but in this case I would. You need to take back possession of the property, rehab it and get it ready for the rental market or sell it. Prepare yourself for the legal eviction process and don't go it alone. Get an attorney on board and keep a watch on the property during the eviction process. 

Tenant has not paid rent. Tenant is uncooperative. Over occupancy (2 person per bedroom is reasonable). House is in disrepair. Risk of personal injury. Risk of unpaid utiliites becoming a lien on the property. Risk of further damage to the property.

The tenant is obviously avoiding you. Even without a written lease/rental agreement, you have a tenancy at will and can proceed with a number of actions. Retain the services of an attorney who specializes in landlord-tenant law for your jurisdiction.

Did you mail a letter of introduction to the tenant? If not, this is one of the first steps when obtaining a property. In the letter you introduce yourself as the new owner/property manager, state how and when to pay rent, and request a meeting to discuss the terms of occupancy. At the meeting you can discuss the move-out process.

You need to see the inside of the unit to ascertain it's condition and how many people are occupying the premises. Whenever we have a tenant who is avoiding us, we immediately serve a "Notice to Enter" and do a property maintenance inspection. Tenants magically appear when we are ready to enter their home. While we are there, we look for other things that concern us, such as safety and egress issues, unauthorized occupants, unauthorized pets, unsanitary conditions, etc. On the "Notice to Enter" it states if the unit locks have been changed, we will enter with the assistance of a locksmith. Don't enter the unit alone and only do so during daylight. Take safety precautions. 

When you have the chance to meet the occupants, you will be meeting your tenants.... all adults who have established residency become your tenants by default and retain the rights of tenancy until legally removed from the premises. Be polite, swift, firm and fair. Let them know you need to end the tenancy and that it is time to talk about a move-out process. You could offer cash for keys to get them out sooner, but if they have no where to go this could be futile. Provide moving boxes and thick mil trash bags, even a moving truck if the tenants are cooperative. If they are not open to moving voluntarily, then immediately proceed with eviction.

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

Originally posted by @Rick Baggenstoss :

...

Since her water will be cut off, I'm also sensitive to that since landlords can't do that directly.  I'm not directly doing it, but I don't know how she'll keep it on without my help.

...



The landlord was supplying water; you as the successor in interest of that landlord  have that same obligation unfortunately for you. No different from common area electric in a multi-unit building. A judge could consider this water shut off to be self help eviction. Good luck whatever you do. 

@Marcia Maynard  Thanks for the advice.  I will send and drop off an introductory letter.  In parallel, I'll get the eviction process started.

@Steve Babiak  You make a good point.  I'll get the water on.