New Tenant becoming a problem before they move in-HELP

28 Replies

My new tenants on one of my properties signed a lease a couple weeks ago with a move in date of July 1st.  When they saw the house my previous tenants were still in the process of moving out.  New tenants signed the lease with no repairs requested.  New tenant told me she had asthma and I told her that I was having the carpets cleaned along with the entire house before they moved in, which I did.  Previous tenants had house dogs as do new tenants so I had no intention of replacing the carpet.  Since it was cleaned new tenant went to the house to measure for her furniture and afterwards let me know that she couldn't handle the smell of the carpet and that she wants it replaced.  She offered to pay for half of it.  My husband went over to the property and said it doesn't smell bad.  I called to tell her that we will have them steam cleaned a 2nd time but that we have no intention of replacing the carpet as it is still in good condition.  She took a tone with me that in itself makes me not want to rent to her.  She started telling me how bad her asthma is and that she had to go to the doctor and get 7 prescriptions after being in the house to measure rooms.  I'm ready to terminate and find a new tenant.  I was already taking a chance on them because they are in pre-foreclosure and they credit's not so great, but I had a good vibe about them and I try to help people out when I can.  The good vibe is now gone.  What should I do?

Originally posted by @Tobi Van Zandt :

My new tenants on one of my properties signed a lease a couple weeks ago with a move in date of July 1st.  When they saw the house my previous tenants were still in the process of moving out.  New tenants signed the lease with no repairs requested.  New tenant told me she had asthma and I told her that I was having the carpets cleaned along with the entire house before they moved in, which I did.  Previous tenants had house dogs as do new tenants so I had no intention of replacing the carpet.  Since it was cleaned new tenant went to the house to measure for her furniture and afterwards let me know that she couldn't handle the smell of the carpet and that she wants it replaced.  She offered to pay for half of it.  My husband went over to the property and said it doesn't smell bad.  I called to tell her that we will have them steam cleaned a 2nd time but that we have no intention of replacing the carpet as it is still in good condition.  She took a tone with me that in itself makes me not want to rent to her.  She started telling me how bad her asthma is and that she had to go to the doctor and get 7 prescriptions after being in the house to measure rooms.  I'm ready to terminate and find a new tenant.  I was already taking a chance on them because they are in pre-foreclosure and they credit's not so great, but I had a good vibe about them and I try to help people out when I can.  The good vibe is now gone.  What should I do?

 Terminate and find a new tenant. No hesitation, they clearly have an issue with the carpet and their issue is not clearly apparent to you. Regardless of who is "right" or "wrong", if the tenant/landlord relationship has deteriorated to thinking of terminating before the tenant ever moves in, then you as a landlord, and they as renters are just not a good fit. My guess is if you do ignore your inclinations, it is only going to lead to more issues in the future. 

Remember not everyone has the same perception as you do, it's why some people don't do business with companies that most people consider highly reputable, and some people refuse to do business with anyone but an unscrupulous company. I guess a better analogy would be a relationship, attraction is one thing, working well together is completely different. Just because you have a house to rent, and they need somewhere to live, doesn't make it a good relationship. 

Just my 2 cents.

Adam

She sounds like she is going to be a problem tenant.

You have a signed lease, so you can't terminate it. I would tell her that the house is rented "as is". If she wants to terminate the lease, then you would allow her to do that. That way it is her idea. Get everything in writing.

It's surprising that with her asthma and needing 7 prescriptions from just being in the house to measure the rooms, that these tenants have dogs themselves. 

We had a family move into on of our SFRs a few years ago, and within a week, the wife was literally crying about how filthy the house was. The cleaning crew had spent at least 6 hours cleaning the house. She had no complaints during the walkthrough or the first days there. The former tenant was her friend, and she had been to the house many times. Her behavior made us decide to offer her the entire security deposit back if she and her family would vacate the premises by the weekend and find a house that suited them better. They did, but of course they didn't clean the place when they left, and they flushed a washcloth down the toilet and we ended up paying the week's worth of water/sewer.

Anyway....a bad vibe at this point won't likely get better. Since they haven't moved in yet, offer their deposit back and avoid more drama. You will likely hear far more issues about her health once they're in, and more demands for repairs, improvements, rent reductions, etc.

I agree with the posters above. If the carpets are in decent condition then you don't have to replace them if you don't want to.

Option 1 - go 50/50 on replacing carpet if the cost is not prohibitive. 

Option 2 - explain that the apartment is rented "as is" and offer to let them out of the lease if they leave the place as they got it within 48 hrs. Hold their security deposit until they have left and you have confirmed the condition of the apartment. Get a "release of possession" form signed at a final walk through. 

Thank you all for your feedback.  It is much appreciated.  While I was on the phone with her she had slightly threatened me with asking for her deposit back so I think I'll find a way to be sure she knows it was her idea and that I am complying with her wishes to terminate.  I have the sneaking suspicion she was recording our phone call.  Most uncomfortable I've ever been with a tenant in 6 years.  It's been a long run of good luck.  When she told me how severe her asthma is I asked, "and you have house dogs?"  She answered "yes, but they are breeds that do not affect my asthma and I vacuum my house twice a day."  If I rent to her I'm going to forever be worried about her getting sick and blaming me.  I can't do this.  Thanks again everyone.  

i would offer her an out immediately 
she will cause you lots of problems 
good luck @Tobi Van Zandt

You need to convince her to terminate the lease before she moves in. It will only get worse.

How unfortunate! Undoubtedly, if you've lost the good vibes before they move in, then you need to persuade them that this is not going to be a good fit and she should check out the eco dome down the road to better align her asthma chakras.

I have found that human males have a less sensitive sense of smell than human females. So always have a woman do a smell test if a male says it's acceptable; if a male says it smells bad, no need to have a woman check ... it's going to smell bad to a woman too. 

Yup, listen to everyone else here. I run a property management company here in AZ and we definitely have run into these types of tenants. They will just continue to complain and make a big deal out of everything, and will be a massive drain on your time and resources. 

Sounds like you already know what you need to do.  Best of luck!

Originally posted by @Tobi Van Zandt :

Thank you all for your feedback.  It is much appreciated.  While I was on the phone with her she had slightly threatened me with asking for her deposit back so I think I'll find a way to be sure she knows it was her idea and that I am complying with her wishes to terminate.  I have the sneaking suspicion she was recording our phone call.  Most uncomfortable I've ever been with a tenant in 6 years.  It's been a long run of good luck.  When she told me how severe her asthma is I asked, "and you have house dogs?"  She answered "yes, but they are breeds that do not affect my asthma and I vacuum my house twice a day."  If I rent to her I'm going to forever be worried about her getting sick and blaming me.  I can't do this.  Thanks again everyone.  

Tobi, follow your gut and get far, far away from this person.  Do whatever it takes to terminate the lease.  All signs are pointing towards trouble with a capital "T".  She is testing you now and if you let her move in, God have mercy on you!  

You may want to consider testing the carpet for pet urine. If there is a true smell, it will only get worse. Maybe this problematic new tenant knows more about what went on there before. If there is urine, you can charge the previous tenant to take care of that issue for good.

Also, please let us know what you decide to do.  I'm curious to see if you find a path to part ways and how that situation played out so I can learn from this experience.

A perfect case for the happiness clause. The tenant has raised return of the security deposit, you follow through and prepare a check. Tell them you understand that they see this as not working and you would not want them to be unhappy in their home. Hence a speedy exit is required.

I agree with the others. The few times I have had tenants display very demanding and difficult behavior at the outset, they have gone on to be very demanding and difficult tenants throughout the relationship. You do not need their money badly enough to go through this, and if you do then you can't afford to be a landlord. A bad tenant will sap all your energy and enthusiasm and will wear you out. Better to call it quits now and move on. Next!

Thanks again everyone.  I'm going to call her in the morning and get this over with.  I'll let you all know how it goes.

one word.

next!

Nothing better than catching a possible very difficult tenant/landlord relationship at the front door and dealing with it properly.

I called her this morning after having a quick pep talk with my Broker and a long pep talk with God.  She answered the phone and after pleasantries I said, "Yesterday you stated that we are at an impasse because I won't replace the carpet and you won't accept the house the way it is so what I'm going to do is get you a cashiers check for your deposit and get that to you quickly."  She said ok and that they were thinking in that same direction and planned to look at other houses today.  I asked her if she'd like to meet me today to get the check and she wanted to.  I told her that I would make that happen but that I would need her signature on a termination of lease before I could give her the check.  She said that was not a problem.  I picked up the check and drove an hour to meet her.  Hi, how are you's were minimal, she and her husband signed the termination and I gave them the cashiers check with a "have a good day."  It's over and I've never been so relieved.  Thank you all again for your comments and support.  I hope everyone was able to learn a little something from this mess I found myself in.  I'm still reflecting on it all and will for a while I'm sure.

Something else to keep in mind is that there are professional tenants out there that spend their days trying to screw over landlords by filing false complaints and trying to get free rent credit for non-issues, etc. These people know the ins and outs of the landlord tenant laws and can make your life hell. 

Trust your gut, out of everyone on this forum you are the only person who has met this prospective tenant.  If they are a nuisance now and demanding things imagine what it will be like when they are settling in.  Disaster.  You are lucky she is showing her true colors now when you can potentially do something about it as opposed to when she has already moved in.

The "I try to help people out" approach to rental real estate rarely works.  That's why virtually every experienced landlord will tell you to have a specific set of criteria you are looking for in a tenant and have the discipline to reject anyone who doesn't.  If you are just the kind of person who has a bleeding heart (there is nothing wrong with this) then consider hiring someone to rent the units for you.  This way you are judging the applicants based on how they look on paper, not based on the "vibe" you get from them.

She will continue to be a problem once she is in your house. Be very thankful her true colors are showing now, cancel her before it is too late.  Headache tenants will make your life miserable.  Prevention is the key here.

@Tobi Van Zandt ,

I agree with everyone else here that releasing her from the lease, getting her to sign a termination agreement, and returning her deposit was the best thing to do.  I'm glad that part went smoothly for you.

I would like to point out that there are a few dog breeds that are hypoallergenic and don't cause much problems for most people who are allergic to pets.  For instance, poodles are very easy on asthmatics, as well as poodle mixed breeds like labradoodles.  If your bad almost-tenant had a poodle breed and the former tenant had a breed on the bad end of the allergic scale, it's possible that what she said about being affected by the previous dog's hair has an inkling of truth.

Regardless, I would not have wanted to rent to her.  Good luck with your next tenant.

Congrats on ending that quick and relatively painlessly.  Now get over to that house and see/sniff if there are any pet odors now that the former tenants are gone and the carpets are cleaned.  Showing the house with tenants is a mistake IMO.  Tenants applicants are always happy when they see a nice house because there are so many bad ones out there.  They won't notice smells or dirt or disrepair or other issues until it's vacant.  Which is move-in time.

I managed a move in to a rental for a wealthy client a few years ago.  She loved the house when she saw it with the tenants and their two large dogs.  Once they were gone, the pet smell in the carpet and the damage to the wooden floors was very noticeable.  I arranged for (and she paid for) all new carpets and refinishing of the floors.  This was a $3K/mo rental in a tight market.  There was no way the owners were going to do all new flooring. If they had vacated the property they would have seen and smelled the damage and gone after the previous tenants (and their large security deposit).

Don't release your deposit to the former tenants until you are certain there is no pet damage.  In my experience there is zero chance there is no damage in a unit with carpet and multiple dogs. Zero chance.  Just one accident is ruined carpet and pad.

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