Eviction notice sent out on Day 3 of tenancy... oy vey

44 Replies

Howdy BP! I'm hoping to get some feedback before I make a mess out of an already sticky situation.

Here's the deal: On a duplex I recently purchased, the upper unit was vacated before I took possession. Cool, because the carpet and paint hadn't been replaced in at least the last 5 tenants, or 15 years, or longer. The stove and fridge were so bad I just threw them out and got replacements. I redid the entire floor, painted, and made the place actually livable!

With all that said, the place is by no means "nice". It's small, I wasn't able to get it professionally cleaned, and the bathroom needs updating. But for $450/month with heat included, I'm not going to turn it into the Taj Mahal (at least not until I've turned some profit on it!)

Now for the tenant. Here's the timeline:

08/25 application & walk through. Male tenant looks HORRIBLE on paper - at least $14,000 in judgments, minor criminal, etc. Needs a place of his own to help with a custody situation. Female has a restraining order against her, violated the restraining order, but nothing else serious. I decide to rent to them.
08/26 signed lease in office - did not bring funds 08/27 no show - no deposit
08/28 paid $350 cash
08/31 rec'd call from Assistance that they may assist with $250 toward SD - did not mention that they would need additional assistance. 09/01 no show - no payment
09/02 paid $100 cash; said St. Vincent was assist with $200 toward SD 09/02 - took possession of unit, with the understanding that the deposit would be funded promptly.

09/03 rec'd $200 check from St. Vincent (did not cash)

09/04 Still haven't received full security deposit.

===========================================

Ok, now here's where it gets interesting. My first question should be simple enough:

By giving them the keys, am I obligated to wait for the security deposit? Or can I send a 14 day notice immediately with no right to cure?

The female has expressed that the place now does not meet her requirements, and in fact called the building inspector because she believes it is not in livable condition. The male informed me that he believes he has legal rights to stay in the apartment. On the August 26 date, the female walked in my office and helped herself to a cup of coffee out of my Keurig without even asking. (I wasn't present, and when I heard about it I immediately thought I should get out... lesson learned, trust the gut!)

I have already sent a 14 day notice, and I informed them that I will return all the money they paid as soon as they are out, because I know they need it. 

Comments appreciated. Happy investing! :D

Oh - the 14 day notice in WI is used for violating lease agreement. The reason stated here is "late payment of rent for the month of September, non-payment of security deposit for the premises located at ..."

Wow. You are getting a painful lesson on the importance of screening applicants. I am not an attorney and do not know anything about Wisconsin law. When I lease a house I apply all funds to the deposit first if there is a shortage (something I have only rarely allowed). That way, if the balance of the rent is not paid, there is no question that I can move to eviction as soon as the law allows. If you have given the tenant a receipt stating the rent has been paid you may be in a bind. Contact a local attorney as soon as you can and learn your options. 

po po po 

From what I've gleaned in BP, them taking possession even without additional monies translates to you accepting that condition, so I believe you would now have to evict as if they were long time tenants.

Wow!!! I hope that this works out well for you. Unfortunately you made quite a few mistakes renting to these tenants. Hpefully you learn from them without paying too much money.

Im not 100% sure on WI law but if that was in Chicago you would have to go through the whole eviction process which can take 6+ months here. I hear WI is more landlord friendly so i hope that is not the case there. 

Remember that doing an eviction is to regain POSSESSION of the home.  (not just getting money)  Once that tenant has POSSESSION of the home, it will take a court of law to get them out.

Watch PACIFIC HEIGHTS THE MOVIE!!   Warning, this movie is not for the landlord who is weak of heart!   I still sweat when I see that movie. 

Nancy Neville

@Dawn Anastasi could probably answer to Wisconsin eviction law.

However, I think it would depend on what you have in writing.  If the person is in default of your contract, I would think you could pursue eviction.  It looks like they have possession, so filing would be necessary. In my jurisdiction, that would be the case. Verify yours.

I have tried to shortcut renovations on an apartment before and I just couldn't attract the best tenants.  You could be missing an outer wall, and the desperate ones would take it because they would have no place to go.  Then they would cry foul like the female you referred to.  By finishing the reno, you could attract the best tenants in the area.

Like @Jeff Rabinowitz , I require a full deposit and an entire 1st month's rent (2nd month pays the pro-rated amount).  This filters out 70% of the rift raft.

Also, tenant does not sign a lease until deposit and rent is paid.  With the lease signed, the tenant has possession, then you have to evict without receiving a dime.

Well, lesson learned and thank you all for the feedback.

From now on no leases are signed or keys given until full payment is made.

In this situation, I believe I have every right to evict because rent was not paid on time. It's unfortunate that I have to do so, but fortunately the other unit pays the mortgage so there's no huge loss other than my time and rents that would have been received.

This actually gets me thinking... since I believe I do have the right to evict, I should actually deposit the Assistance checks. 

Thanks BP 

Originally posted by @Account Closed :

Remember that doing an eviction is to regain POSSESSION of the home.  (not just getting money)  Once that tenant has POSSESSION of the home, it will take a court of law to get them out.

Watch PACIFIC HEIGHTS THE MOVIE!!   Warning, this movie is not for the landlord who is weak of heart!   I still sweat when I see that movie. 

Nancy Neville

 I watched the trailer, that's as far as I'll go. I don't do horror movies LOL

We've all been thru it a bit. Sometimes, you're just so intent on getting the money coming in and in believing in people, you assume that they will never hose you - especially in the very first month.

I think you have to start the eviction process.  But I'd probably recommend contacting an attorney and letting them do it. They can review your lease and the circumstances and get you thru this with as little pain as possible as this is not your standard eviction based on what I'm seeing. All kinds of land mines in there I think.

btw: One rule I have found is that if a potential renter no shows on anything - showing, meeting, etc, you need to write them off your list immediately. Whatever excuse they give is a probably a lie.   The fact that they didn't show and didn't call means they simply don't care about other people and they're more than likely going to pull a fast one on you at some point in the future anyway.

On a brighter side. At least, you're only out a couple hundred bucks a month on a tough lesson.  Could be a lot worse. Could be 1,400/mo instead.

Originally posted by @Mike H. :

We've all been thru it a bit. Sometimes, you're just so intent on getting the money coming in and in believing in people, you assume that they will never hose you - especially in the very first month.

I think you have to start the eviction process.  But I'd probably recommend contacting an attorney and letting them do it. They can review your lease and the circumstances and get you thru this with as little pain as possible as this is not your standard eviction based on what I'm seeing. All kinds of land mines in there I think.

btw: One rule I have found is that if a potential renter no shows on anything - showing, meeting, etc, you need to write them off your list immediately. Whatever excuse they give is a probably a lie.   The fact that they didn't show and didn't call means they simply don't care about other people and they're more than likely going to pull a fast one on you at some point in the future anyway.

On a brighter side. At least, you're only out a couple hundred bucks a month on a tough lesson.  Could be a lot worse. Could be 1,400/mo instead.

 Our eviction process starts with the 14 day notice, which was sent certified.

Thanks for the feedback, I agree with it all. Cheers! :)

Wow. So if they don't pay on the 1st of the month, you have to wait 14 days before you can file the eviction?  So how long does the entire eviction process take then?

i.e. 1st of the month comes and goes - no payment.
2nd of the month, you give them the 14 day pay or quit.

16th of the month, your attorney files the eviction.
Court date?
Date the Sheriff's  Office physically removes them? 

good luck. I would have used the 5 day notice  to start  the eviction earlier.  Were there  any documents  for  the assistance  that required  you to sign? Some of them have restictitons  on evictions  if you accept  the money.  

The 5 day notice is "Fix or Quit"

The 14 day notice is "No Fix, you have 14 days to get out."

We didn't sign anything from the Assistance places. *thumbs up*

@James W. There is also the 5 day pay or quit notice in Wisconsin. In fact if they are on a 1 year lease the must first be given a 5 day notice before they can be served a 14 day notice. 

  1. 14-day Notice with No Right to Cure orders you to move even if you fix the problem and must give you at least 14 days. This does not include the day it was served (Wis. Stat. 990.001(4)(a)), but it does include Saturday and Sunday unless the last day is a Sunday. Wis. Stat. 990.001(4)(b) The only way to avoid court is to move out before it expires, or work out another agreement (in writing) with the landlord. Tenants with rental agreements for a set term of one year or less can only be given this notice if they already received a curable 5-day notice for the same violation type (rent or non-rent) within the previous 12 months. Landlords can give a 14 day notice to week-to-week and month-to-month tenants at any time they are behind in rent, without getting a 5-day notice first. Wis. Stats. 704.17(1)(a) & (b) & (2)(b)
Originally posted by @James W. :Here's the deal: On a duplex I recently purchased, the upper unit was vacated before I took possession. Cool, because the carpet and paint hadn't been replaced in at least the last 5 tenants, or 15 years, or longer. The stove and fridge were so bad I just threw them out and got replacements. I redid the entire floor, painted, and made the place actually livable!

With all that said, the place is by no means "nice". It's small, I wasn't able to get it professionally cleaned, and the bathroom needs updating. But for $450/month with heat included, I'm not going to turn it into the Taj Mahal (at least not until I've turned some profit on it!)

Now for the tenant. Here's the timeline:

08/25 application & walk through. Male tenant looks HORRIBLE on paper - at least $14,000 in judgments, minor criminal, etc. Needs a place of his own to help with a custody situation. Female has a restraining order against her, violated the restraining order, but nothing else serious. I decide to rent to them.


What made you decide to rent to these people when they have a horrible, horrible history?  Secondly, your statement of "I wasn't able to get it professionally cleaned" doesn't cut it.  If you're unwilling to provide a clean, safe place to live, then don't start accepting applications until you do.  Would you live there in the condition that it was when you rented it to these people?  It doesn't have to be the "Taj Mahal".  But provide the basics -- water, heat, working electricity and lights, no safety hazards, proper safety equipment (smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors), make sure windows and doors all lock and door jambs are secure and the place is clean -- no previous construction debris, no previous tenant debris, no bugs/critters.

Then there's the matter of the rent and security deposit.  Get your security deposit and first month's rent up front and in advance before renting the unit.

Scenario: Tenant shows up to the lease signing and says "I don't have the money with me today."

You: "Okay, well when would you like to reschedule the lease signing?  I can give you X days to reschedule and then I'm going to put the unit back on the market."  Then stick to it.

If you rent to lower income tenants, month-to-month rental agreements are far better for the landlord than annual leases.  Gives you the upper hand.

There are some tenants out there who will try to play you.  Their grandmother died and they had to travel out of town so they couldn't pay rent.  They got robbed and their rent money was stolen. They'll give you the rent in just 2 days.  Then 2 days go by and they just need another 3 days.  Then they need another 4 days.  Suddenly over a week has gone by and you haven't filed for eviction yet because you think that payment is just around the corner.  The 5-day notice starts right away.

@James W.

08/25 application & walk through. Male tenant looks HORRIBLE on paper - at least $14,000 in judgments, minor criminal, etc. Needs a place of his own to help with a custody situation. Female has a restraining order against her, violated the restraining order, but nothing else serious. I decide to rent to them.

You did what???  What were you smoking???

Now, one of my first tenants had just lost his house to HOA foreclosure and had a good sob story (which I was able to corroborate through records), so I've made exceptions (and so far not been burned). But dude - what were you thinking?

Hope you don't lose to much on this and learn from it.  Listen to @Dawn Anastasi .  Wise advice.

Too bad these tenants will be getting free rent in your head this Labor Day weekend!

It appears that you see many of your errors, so I won't remind you'll the obvious one.

The opportunity here is multiple:

1) Find the educational material that will help you create better systems for marketing to attract better tenants. Given you have an edgy property, Fixer Jay Decima is your best bet. 

2) Take what you learn from this and incorporate in your marketing when soliciting sellers with tenant problems. Now that you kniw more about what can go wrong, you'll know how to appeal to tired landlords and talk the talk and play with their fears. 

I will take a little poke about the value if training: one way or another, you're going to get an education. Hope it works out for you sooner than later.

There is nothing I can say that have not already been said. Read up on your state laws regarding landlord and tenants. And heed the advice that's been given. Obtain proper screening before you accept tenants. Here is Florida its a 3 day notice to pay or quit before you can do anything else. I never hand over keys until all payments (security deposit and rent is paid) if you have doubts about a tenant don't move forward with the process. Its just not worth the hassle. Good Luck!

Sounds like you have some professional tenants. Unfortunately I would be very surprised if this is all there is to it. It's probably not over yet.  No matter how many stories you hear you still can't really understand what it's like to have professional tenants until you have your own. Try not to take it personally and try not to get angry (it is much easier said than done). Expect more BS to happen. They might even sue you.  Expect them to lie and expect them to get away with anything that you can't prove is BS.

This seems record setting - just three days and evicting - but that is a bad record to be setting ...

Poor screening practices are what put you into this spot. 

And not cleaning the unit!!! Sorry, that wouldn't make the cut ...

Please spend some time reading up on some best practices before you repeat the same mistakes. 



Originally posted by @Doug McLeod :

@James W.

You did what???  What were you smoking???

What was I smoking? Wow - congrats on making the least helpful comment in the thread and also painting yourself as a jerk.

I rolled the dice. 

I was well aware of the risk, I'm not complaining at all, and honestly there's no reason for that kind of response. The property is still positive cash flow and even if I was losing money, it's not YOUR money is it? I'm sure you have nothing but A class homes in A neighborhoods and all of your tenants have 800 credit scores - good for you. In a perfect world, we would all be as cool as you.

The responses in this thread range from helpful to lecturing to the above... it amuses me that some people feel the need to post useless comments, get up on a high-horse, or even comment when they clearly have nothing of value to add.

My goal here is to hear from other landlords who may have also made such an atrocious and unthinkable mistake, and learn from their mistakes. That is what I plan to do in the future, when I stumble across a thread where someone rolled the dice and then needs to determine an exit strategy.

Thank you to anyone that's posted a non-judgmental, helpful, and thoughtful feedback.