Toe to Toe and Nose to Nose

5 Replies

Hello Landlords, 

So I have a 4 unit, with one empty studio....as I am their cleaning it up I get a knock at the door....it's the tenant from another unit and he is pissed at me for calling the  cops on him   .....long story...anyway...he gets an eviction notice 7 Days to pay or vacate, 3 days later the city shows up and condemns his unit because he didn't pay his electric bill and was disconnected! They are told that they can only occupy it to pack unless their power is restored. 2 days later, they are there, no power, so I called and his girl was escorted out. Here is the problem, I never got this city certified, there for, "cannot collect rent". 40 days from the start date, the Judge dismisses the case due to "wrong complaint form, start over and hire a lawyer". And I am the bad guy that needs an "@ss whoppin"... I think he is better of back in prision.

Lessons learned? Don't put in your property people with criminal history? Know when to get an attorney on board? If the quote in your last sentence came from that tenant, I'd call that a verbal threat. Anything else I missed?

Sounds like this situation has gained an emotional element beyond the just the frustrations of a steep learning curve on the business side.  

If you haven't already, my advice is to get some emotional distance - hire an attorney to help with the legal side, and either hire a PM or get a third party (if you happen to have an able & willing friend - the skill set is rare but does exist) to handle any in-person contact between landlord & tenant.  One-on-one interaction between an emotionally invested owner and a criminal and volatile tenant is a recipe for more pain and damage.

Full disclosure: we do have some tenants with criminal convictions (requires someone we know well enough to trust to vouch for the tenant-the tenant's current lifestyle has to be law abiding).  But it isn't for everyone!

Welcome to Landlording....1st get a great lease as it will govern what happens when something goes south.  2nd - nothing wrong with renting to convicts or felons, some of them make the best tenants simply because of their limited options.  I just draw the line with certain types of crimes or recent trends or multiple drug or DUI offenses. 

Some places have enacted pre-rent inspections and approvals to prevent slumlords, scumbags who pretend to own something in foreclosure or abandoned just to collect rent and to get some local revenue.  You have to know the rules of your market.

I rarely hire an attorney for landlord tenant issues....just isn't worth it.  Why didn't the renter pay....this is another example of putting yourself out there as the manager and not the owner.  As a pretend manager, you always have someone to pass the buck to and can always say 'geez man, so sorry but I have someone to answer to...how can I help you get the rent paid up....maybe we can make a plan to works for the owner."  Sometimes this stuff works.  I break my own rules sometimes....I now usually file evictions by the 3rd or 4th of the month unless someone has communicated with me.  I have someone now who is 3 weeks late and hadn't communicated.  I let her go this long because she is always late but ALWAYS pays.  I sent her a message yesterday that I was filing today because I hadn't heard from her...and low and behold, she has been holding the rent waiting for me.  Truth is...she was hoping to not hear from me and use the money to travel for thanskgiving I would guess.  Second guessing people as a landlord become a habit.

So is the unit empty now or where are you with it?  Put a nice notice clause in the lease..something like this works:

NOTICE: Any notice which either party may or is required to give, shall be in writing and delivered either: (1) in person, or (2) by emailing the same or (3) by texting then mailing first class postage paid, to Resident at the premises, or to Management at address specified as "Address of Management", or at such other places as may be designated in writing by the parties from time to time. Management is authorized to act on behalf of owner with respect to this agreement, to manage the premises, and is owner's duly designated agent for service of process with respect to any matter arising under this agreement.

If we give notice, we usually tack in on the door, take a picture of it and text it to the renter, plus email it.  If I think it's going to court or it's already in court, I send it all certified or retrun receipt and take a picture of that as well to send to the renter.  I don't know your area but go learn the local magistrate system and the players.  Obvioously, get your unit inspected and approved so you avoid the same mess with the 3 other units.  I love 4-plexes so keep at it!  Luck!

Since landlording is a business, rent collection is part of the regular activities. So is eviction.

Time to create and implement systems for rent collection and an internal policy (and checklist) for eviction, too.

The judge gave you the right answer: hire an (unlawful detainer) attorney and do it right. 

'One way or another, you're going to get an education.'

You should be more aware of the tenants you are renting to. Check criminal history, arrests, felonies, etc. before you let one of these people around your tenants. This could have ended much worse for you.