Entitled Tenants from hell....but my mistake for being "nice"

95 Replies

I have a small house on 18 acres.   We have rented it out 5 times with no complaints.  In the last 4 years we we have totally renovated it adding a sun room, new HVAC, electrical, plumbing, and refinishing floors, refurbished the buck stove etc. you get the picture. When the new tenants moved in July 2014.  I told them I have done everything but upgrade the insulation and that was on my list to get done.  A month after they moved in her boyfriend lost his job and since has not found another.  I have accepted late and partial rent ($750) with no late fees for the past 5 months.  I know... 1st mistake and been way too nice lending them things.   They have paid in full by the end of each month but then, I get this email from her.  I responded with an eviction notice, which I received another tenant email after that... just as long as this one as to why I was so angry and being unfair.

Hello Lisa & Billy,

Shannon and I write you today in a spirit of compromise and cooperation in hopes that there can be a consensus about the current situation at the Holsclaw House that we rent from you. Though it is understood from your recent email about your medical issue and current financial situation that it is not the best time of year for you to be fixing the weatherization of our rental, it is also law for you to upkeep your rental as duties of being our landlords. To be frank, no matter what is going on with your end, the upkeep and safety of the rental is your responsibility. We believe it is none of our business the personal decisions you are making about your own home or the business decisions of other rentals, if you are not able to upkeep the house we are renting, you are not able to charge us the full rent originally agreed upon. This is not personal, it is law. It was noticed, but not yet abundantly clear until the inspection was done to completion, the reasoning for our high utilities from the beginning. We were wondering why the house had difficultly keeping the cool air from the Air Conditioning in summer when we did run it. And now we know. I was sincerely shocked to understand that there are whole large sections of the roof from the attic ceiling that are just exposed tin---no wood or insulation at all, where it would be needed most. It is no wonder we are not able to keep heat in this house. Let alone the discovery that the insulation--or what is a crumbled mess left of it in the walls are at least 30-50 years old (per inspector)--so large sections of the house is as if not insulated at all. Billy also mentioned you have had the pipes freeze and burst under the house in recent years, and you can easily see why. Most of the pipes are exposed and not at all insulated, while the ones remaining with insulation have very old, half falling off foam. The gentleman from the first inspection in August mentioned the piles of filter material lay sitting in the attic-especially near the chimney area are a fire hazard and should be removed. This is all especially alarming with the knowledge there has been a fire in the house before. Though it may have been quite some time ago, there is little to no upkeep to the weatherization of this house, other than the working fire place and the option to run the Central Heat/Air full blast. It is simply not acceptable whatsoever that your answer to us is to "DIY" the house when it is not our responsibility. That is why we pay you rent. It is not our home to upkeep in that manner.

When you showed us the rental, and upon move in on more than one occasion, I (Julia) spoke to you both about the weather stripping needed for some of the older windows and both the front & back door. I asked if we should do it ourselves then and deduct the cost off rent. I said I was however afraid to do it ourselves anyway since it is a historic home and I don't want to mess up any of the paint and or moulding on the house. You said you planned on getting a weatherization/energy inspection anyhow, and that it would be taken care of. Now we are told to "DIY" and to just apply to utility assistance programs. It's not going to happen. There is also confusion on our end as to the problem of financial timing on your end. The first,though not fully complete, inspection was done on August 27th. We heard nothing from you two about it after until the scheduled appointment to actually do the work in November. Then all the sudden you cannot afford to do any of it? You had from August to November to prepare for the weatherization of this home.

I understand that this is a vacation home for you two, and that you may have not spent too much time there in the winter to understand how it is there, but we rented this house with your promise that it is a year round ready rental, and that you were going to do the weatherization inspection and follow through with it. We are already experiencing nights--and have been off and on for weeks now, where the weather has reached freezing and below. According to several sections of the Landlord Tenant Act, it is your sole duty to A) make all repairs and do whatever is necessary to put and maintain the premises in a fit and habitable condition B) Maintain in good working order and condition the all heating/ventilation C) Supply reasonable heat and running hot water between October 1st-May 1st. We would really really like to have the pipes insulated so that we don't encounter the problem of no water or hot water if they burst. It would be costly for you to repair as well.

We have made sure you have been paid full rent every single month, though the condition of the home has not been up kept (i.e. weatherized). We are also concerned about the safety issues of the attic. As stated before, writing with a spirit of compromise and cooperation, we would like this email to be considered a thirty day notice to please weatherize the house in accordance with the inspection given by Energy Savers Company on November 23rd. In the meantime, we would like to open up a written dialogue (via email here) as to the fairness of charging us full rent until the weatherization can happen. We would like to propose paying $500 for the month of December, so that leaves us a $250 window for the significant increase in the LGE Bill and the need to drip the water at night when it gets cold enough, i.e. the raise in the Louisville Water Bill, not to mention dealing with the situation for longer. If the job is scheduled for January, maybe we could do a pro-rate for the time frame until it is done. If you agree to these terms, we would like an amendment to the original lease drawn up and signed by you, and sent in the mail for us to also sign and return a copy to you. As stated, we are not trying to specifically cause any grievance or rift between you and us, it is simply a matter of what is law and fair. We feel the services that should be provided by paying full rent are not there as promised. Therefore we should not be charged the full rental amount of $750.00. Please let us know at your earliest convenience via email response as to your decision about the matters at hand at your earliest convenience.

Aside from the rent money and the weatherization, there are a few more things we needed to communicate about:

A) The old vintage fridge has still not been picked up by LGE. I know you said it would be two weeks at max, but that would be in two days so I wanted to give you a heads up about that.

B)We have noticed that there is not a fireplace rope seal for the door of it, which is not only needed for safety reasons, but also for proper usage of the fireplace.

C) We wanted to reiterate what we have requested and stated to you several times before which is that we not only highly prefer a 48 hour notice before coming to the Holsclaw House, it is also law. Shannon and I both shouldn't always have to be prepared on a dime to drop what we are doing because it happens to fit your schedule. We have a schedule as well. Shannon also suffers greatly from PTSD, high levels of anxiety, and it is very difficult for him to engage in unexpected encounters. As you know us fairly well by now as tenants, we keep the place well, and just prefer the privacy. It is part of why anyone pays rent for their home. You may email me here or text me at the number # which is my cell phone during reasonable hours.

D) We are confused about the issue of the chainsaw. When we first rented the place, Billy said he would provide a working chainsaw for free for us to use to saw the downed wood on the property that has been agreed upon. When given the first chainsaw that did not work (needed serious repairs) and was not safe since it did not have a guard/or a chain stop, you then repaired another chainsaw for us to use. It was not until waiting for then months on end for a working chainsaw that we were given one to use a few weeks ago. During those two weeks we have a had a major holiday (Thanksgiving) and several days of rain. Why is it that all the sudden we have a time limit on the chainsaw? Yet again, this is part and parcel of how we are trying to heat the home. Shannon has done a lot of work with it thus far, but we are running through wood fast due to the heating issue. It would help us out greatly to be able to continue to use the chainsaw through December so we can finish the work we started.

I know this is a rather large email and it will take some time to come to a few decisions and write us back. Please let me reiterate that being a landlord and renting out property is a business. You supply the house/property in good working order and we pay you rent. If I were to write you and say "sorry, we want to use rent on personal things so you don't get it this month" you wouldn't like that either. We want fairness in the situation, and that is all we are asking.

Thank you in advance for your time and efforts.

Sincerely, Julia & Shannon

I'd say continue with eviction or see if you can give them cash for keys.

Doesn't sound like there might be an amicable solution here.  If they're always late on rent then expect the headaches/hassles to continue indefinitely until you get them out of your property.

I had one like this a couple years ago and it stressed me to no end for 6+ months and ultimately ended in eviction.  The day after I got my keys back...the house was a mess but it was like the weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders!

Was the move in inspection form signed and agreed to by both parties disclosing the weather and insulation issues with the property?

Did the tenants take it "as-is" with all faults and limitations currently existing with the property?

Sounds like regardless of the rent being paid late or partial that the tenants claims are not baseless and without merit. It sounds like claims on each side.

If you have the money it might be best to evict the tenants and then go fix the property to a rentable standard. Is the rent they are paying below market for the area? What rent could you get with them gone and the place updated?

The tenant looks like they are covering their tracks by written demands and correspondence. Notice how many times in their letter they say "it's the law".   

No legal advice given.  

Thank you for your response,

I did send the eviction notice and they paid on the last day.  I had already scheduled the insulation but considered canceling after the letter.  So they are paid up for now and they have their insulation. All their complaints are not accurate.  I would also like to mention they are getting assistance from LG&E  (low income) for heating bills, food stamps etc since the job loss.  I also received partial rent payment from a church, that they do not even attend or are members. I asked for them to show me their high heating and cooling bills but that did not  happen.  You are right, this will never end, just waiting for the next shoe to drop.

Double check your eviction laws....in California if a tenant complains and the landlord responds with an eviction notice (or the start of the process...) its considered a 'retaliatory eviction' and these can get messy really fast. 

Joel,

The"inspection" they are talking about is nothing to do with the lease they signed in July nor does the lease mention insulation will be added.  The "inspection occurred when I hired Energy Savers to give me a quote to install new insulation.  There is no fire hazard in the attic or otherwise. Their statements are just untrue.  And also we did already have the insulation scheduled. They actually showed up to do the job and decided the original quote was not accurate, so had to re-quote. Shortly after I broke my leg, so the insulation got delayed, then I got the tenant's letter. I have include pictures right before they moved into the house.  It is not inhabitable and had a brand new HVAC installed in  January 2015.

I would get an attorney involved in this now. Don't as these are "professional con tenants". I would also send them a letter (after talking to attorney) that they owe a late fee for last month and lateness in the future will not be tolerated.

Double-check your eviction laws and follow them by the book.  If the tenants claims are untrue or they can't prove that their statements are accurate, then you should also create a paper-trail disputing their claims and asking for them to document and photograph the issues they have encountered.  Should this ever get nasty you want to have proof that you were communicating and that they were not being truthful or forthcoming.

And yes, you should probably talk to a rental/eviction lawyer just to double-check how best to proceed in your area.

Learn how to accept constructive criticism and you will be able to improve your landlording skills. In the spirit of compromise and cooperation, I would work with the tenants to try to save the tenancy. From what I see here, they are not being unreasonable in their requests.

The late rent situation is an entirely a separate issue. It was your decision not to charge late fees and not to act in a timely manner regarding the late rent. You have now set a new precedent in that regard which is contrary to your rental agreement. You need to renegotiate this with ample time for the tenants to adjust.

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They've rented since July 2014 and you still have not weatherized the building?

The tenant's email is very well written and makes some valid points. You absolutely need to address the weatherization issues. Check with your public utility company and see what programs they have to offer to do so at the least cost. Take out a loan if you need to, such as a home improvement loan or line-of-credit. If you can't do this in a timely manner, then give them a concession as they suggest.

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You have come onto the premises and/or entered the house without providing sufficient notice? 

You need to follow the landlord-tenant law for your jurisdiction. It is best to know landlord-tenant law better than your tenant, but it appears they (or an advocate with whom they may be working) know the law better than you.

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You loaned them a chainsaw that was not in good repair?

Loaning the tenant a chainsaw, especially one that is not in good repair, increases your liability. I would re-negotiate this. Instead of offering them use of a chainsaw, I would do the cutting of the wood for them, or have it done for them by another party for this heating season. Then establish for future heating seasons that they need to make their own arrangements. Also, do you really want to put a chainsaw in the hands of tenants with whom you are not on good terms?

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On what basis did you serve them an eviction notice? Could this be viewed as retaliation?

Read carefully her subsequent email as to your showing anger and being unfair. She may be making some valid points in that as well. It seems your tenant is communicating openly and honestly with you, from their perspective. Whether their concerns are real or perceived, you need to address them respectfully and fairly.

Time to do some soul searching. Look at your own issues and how they are affecting your tenants. What would it take to save the tenancy? What can you learn from this that will make you a better landlord?

The church charity assistance will not help them every month. You can only go to that well so many times as a tenant.

I have seen all of these things and more before.

WHO is on the lease? The boyfriend and the woman or just the woman? How long did he have that job before he lost it? 4 months, 5 years? Does he stay in the same field of work over the years or go to different type jobs constantly?

Is he collecting unemployment?

What was your screening criteria for quality of tenant and income levels compared to the rent? 

You have to be careful now because of setups by the tenant. Sounds like you and also the tenant are going through some bumpy roads right now. The tenants with their letter are trying to make you a "friend in this together" versus a landlord & tenant relationship.

Sounds like eviction needs to be performed. Generally in front of a judge you will be questioned as to repairs. The judge will ask the tenant if they have given IN WRITING and dated repair requests? 99% of them never do. If the tenant DID then the judge will want to look at it and ask if you received this notice? Plaintiff and defendant are giving information under oath in a court of law and can put in jail if they falsify or manipulate documents and misrepresent the truth to the court.

If you did receive this notice then did you respond in a timely manner? If not deemed by the judge then they might award reduced rent to the tenant. If the tenant had their friend bubba fix something and gave the landlord an over inflated bill then the judge might toss that and award damages to the landlord because the tenant did not give the landlord adequate time to have their repair people look at and fix the problem.

Some states are founded on different laws and thus some are landlord friendly and some tenant friendly. It's a roll of the dice sometimes even if the landlord is 100% documented and in the right as to what will happen in court. You definitely want to stay away from a self help or retaliation  eviction label heading into court. The fines can reach into the thousands.

If this is out of control it might be time to pay an eviction attorney local to the property so you can emotionally disconnect from it and make sure all protocols are followed for proper eviction. If you mess up one step you can be made to do it all over again. Make sure you have "and all others" or something similar in your eviction filings. In some area if you do not anyone over 18 not on the lease you won't be able to evict whether you knew they were there or not and you will have to evict them separately. Make sure once legally evicted you change ALL the locks and access points of the property.

No legal advice given.     

Originally posted by @Jim Shepard :

I would get an attorney involved in this now. Don't as these are "professional con tenants". I would also send them a letter (after talking to attorney) that they owe a late fee for last month and lateness in the future will not be tolerated.

Doesn't sound like "professional con tenants" to me. Sounds more like a series of misunderstandings based on communication styles and differing expectations. A "professional con tenant" is not likely to be caught up on rent and wouldn't offer to negotiate in this manner. The tenants are protecting themselves by putting things in writing, so the landlord should respond in writing too.

The tenant has many good points.  Especially by starting out saying your medical issues and financial issues have no bearing on your landlord duties or contractual agreements.  Why in the world are you giving them that information?  Indeed, it's your house, your verbal and contractual agreements and your responsibility to do what you said you would do. 

If the issue is money and you cannot properly weatherize the house, then why not offer to reduce the rent or let them out of their lease?  If you can't do what you said you would do, then make it clear that it won't be happening and you are open to a different solution.

Lending tenants a chainsaw?  How could that even be a thing? Tenants and chainsaws and lending don't go together in a sentence, let alone in real life.

Hi Lisa, 

You mentioned that you sent them an eviction notice, but I am confused, you are evicting them for what?  They have paid their rent in full each month, albeit late, and you have accepted it. Eviction for complaining? I hate to be pessimistic, but the law will not be on your side. It looks like retaliation to pursue for complaining about some things you promised to do and now cannot, and for what they perceive as unacceptable conditions. There are many things they listed in there letter that are not a duty of a landlord (at least not in Ohio), and if they did not get everything you promised to do in writing, then that is their problem because, barring extreme circumstances involving injury, the only thing that holds in courts with tenancies is your tenancy contract and anything else in writing. The general rule for landlord obligation is "safe and sanitary." There is no "as-is" rule with rentals - you are obligated to keep a home safe and sanitary - always - even if the condition existed when they inspected it before signing the contract. You could be sued for negligence if there is an unsafe condition and you are not handling it and a tenant (or their guest) gets injured, be careful. Most of my thinking is based on Ohio law, you might want to investigate Kentucky law. If I were you, I would simply tell them, I cannot lower the rent, and I cannot change the home  so you are welcome to terminate the tenancy. Whatever you do, if you are unable to make those changes, try to get them out soon in a proper, legal fashion, they sound like a liability ticking bomb to me.

Marcia.

I see I have to be more careful in the future and not let my emotions get the best of me.

Thank you for all the time and thought you put into your email. I appreciate your non biased recommendations. The house was insulated, I was just upgrading it  to close cell polyurethane foam insulation. The insulation was already scheduled to be done and we had the cash to pay for it.  At this time the new insulation is completed.

 Since you seem to be good at looking at both sides, I would appreciate your analysis of the following communication, and yes.... I was angry when I wrote the letter...The tenants response to it follows. Apologize for the long long emails. 

 I did response to them with this letter addressing their concerns:

Julia and Shannon,
Sorry to hear you are so unhappy and feel you are being unfairly treated. When you first rented the property and moved in you both were "Over the Moon" (your words) happy because of the way the place looked and all the updates. It was not until you started having trouble paying the rent because Shannon lost his job and, subsequently not getting another.... did all these unfair issues come to light.  This is the 1st I heard that your heating and cooling bills are so high.  

I would like to address your concerns:

1. "The upkeep and safety of the rental is your responsibility."

Yes it is and these are some of the things we have done before you moved in, our last renters moved out in 2012.

-Brand new HVAC system 2015, adding heat duct to bath by Estes HVAC Contractor and Alan Keith HVAC Contractor
-New ceiling and outside walls in kitchen with new ceiling and wall insulation installed 2013 Eric Martin Drywall Construction
-New insulation in living room outside walls 2013 Eric Martin Drywall
-New tile in shower, new sink and fixtures and bath and kitchen plumbing 2012 by Venhoff Plumbing and Jim Ennis Tile Co.
-All wood floors refinished and walls and ceilings painted 2013-2015 by Olek construction
- Installed new city water and plumbing 2013 by Venhoff Plumbing Co. and Louisville Water Co
- Updated all electrical, included box, added outlets, switches, ceiling fans, & more overhead lighting,also fixed any electrical issues that would be considered not up to code 2013 by Allen Electric
- Chimney cleaned by contractor and Buck stove completely restored by Chim Clean Contractor 2015
- New roof work and new Roof coating for metal roof by Stanley Allen Galaxy Roofing 2013
-New Sunroom with energy efficiency windows, walls and ceiling insulated with concrete flooring 2014 by Carpenter Jeremy Smith and Victors Concrete Co 2013
-New Washer and Dryer 2015
-Painted complete exterior of house and caulked all windows Anthony Dean Painting 2014
This and more is all documented for tax purposes.

2. "This is not personal, it is law."

Landlords make all repairs and do whatever is necessary to put and maintain the premises in a fit and habitable condition.

There is no law that requires landlords to add more insulation or the latest and greatest insulation so the tenants utility bills are the lowest they possibly can be. The insulation is neither a safety issue or an inhabitable condition.
-There is insulation in the attic and the house and we wanted to update it. Actually was scheduled to be done Nov but quote was not high enough for the work that needed to be done, so had to requote and then I broke my leg so it was delayed.
-Have had 3 quotes for Holsclaw, the latest being $2700 from Energy Savers for close cell foam, not blow in insulation, close cell is the highest quality.
-We have provided you with free furnace filters
- Helped you receive low income heating assistance
-Suggested DIY changes that you could do yourself that would be reimbursed. Thought since Shannon is not working he may have the time. Also many other Suggestions for getting help or lowering your bills.
- Would like to see your high utility bills and assistance from LG&E
-Energy Savers Owner, Linda, says you called about a possible fire hazard she told you, there is no current fire hazard in the attic
-Like you said
"We believe it is none of our business the personal decisions you are making about your own home" but yet .........you said,
"Then all the sudden you cannot afford to do any of it?" " You had from August to November to prepare for the weatherization of this home."

We were getting quotes for insulation in Aug. and actually already scheduled for Nov.
It was our own "personal decision" to have the insulation looked at , not that it was necessary to do so, and we have no legal obligation.

 You have not paid the rent on time for 5 months and we have excepted payments from outside sources (The church) and think it is fine for us to bend the rules of RENT IS DUE ON OR BEFORE THE 1st DAY OF THE MONTH.

3. "According to several sections of the Landlord Tenant Act A,B,C"

The house is in compliance with A,B,C. The house fire took place in the 1920s, 85 years ago. The burst pipe was in the winter when no one was living there and no heat was on. The second burst pipe was over the summer because of a bad weld joint and has been repaired. The plumbing has been replaced, updated, and up to code.

4. "The old vintage fridge has still not been picked up by LGE. I know you said it would be two weeks at max, but that would be in two days so I wanted to give you a heads up about that."

We had to fill out a 3rd party request paperwork to get the fridge removed since we do not live in the house and it has been accepted. We are still waiting on the call from the contractor to schedule pick -up.
We have no control over that, as their schedule is very busy. Billy told you that they said it typically takes about 2 - 3 weeks not max of 2 weeks.

We did provide a replacement fridge in a timely manner with no questions asked as to how the door got broken.

5. "We have noticed that there is not a fireplace rope seal for the door of it, which is not only needed for safety reasons, but also for proper usage of the fireplace."

Billy talked to Buck Stove Company and it is not a safety issue, only may make it slightly more efficient. Not a hard thing to do if you would feel more comfortable.

6. "We not only highly prefer a 48 hour notice before coming to the Holsclaw House, it is also law."
We have never entered the house and only on the property to fix things you requested.
Most visits no one needs to be home, Billy has come to fix mower, drop off plants, paint, supplies, fixed window, screens, weed eater, chainsaw. fridge, etc.... that did not seem to be an issue. We have always gave you notice,when we were coming and you have agreed every time. However when we need access to the house we are happy to give you 48 hr notice, and it would help if someone would respond to phone calls and emails.

7. "We are confused about the issue of the chainsaw"
Billy offered the use of his old chain saw but you were not comfortable using it. So he offered Shannon his better chain saw for 2 weeks not unlimited time. Fyi, I see you can rent one from Home Depot for $660 a month, which was what you first said you were going to do. That would be at your own expense. We are just trying to help you out and you turn this around like its our fault.

8."Please let me reiterate that being a landlord and renting out property is a business."

Yes, it is our business and we have done everything in our power to help you. We feel you have been treated more than fair. You have already violated the lease many times by not paying rent on time and we have been flexible. You signed a lease for $750 a month plus utilities. There were no stipulations about us giving you a chain saw, garden plot, trimmer, filters, septic system tablets, plants. We have reimbursed for any, and, every, no matter how small expense you may have had and try to give/find Shannon some work.

9 " We would like to propose paying $500 for the month of December, so that leaves us a $250 window for the significant increase in the LGE Bill "
Unless there is an issue with the HVAC system, which since it is brand new that would be unlikely, this is not happening. Where did you come up with the amount of $250?
I would also like to see your high LG&E bills and also the assistance you are receiving from LG&E from their low income assistance program.

On a side note, I made arrangements with the Parks Dept so you could use their garbage cans instead of paying $30 a month for trash pick from the city.

10. $750 rent is, again, past due. When will December rent be paid in full? If the late payments continue we will be considering eviction, based on recommendations from our real estate attorney.

11. We had already scheduled the insulation installation, but considered canceling because of your note. I will be sending the email from Energy Savers shortly. Please confirm the date and conditions of the installation if you intend to stay.

Lisa & Billy Casey

Tenants Response:

Lisa & Billy,

We are happy to hear that the insulation/weatherization is going to be taking place next Friday, December 11th. As per advised, we are going to be paying you rent in full (minus the $50 deduction which is explained below) next Saturday, December 12th. That way, we see the insulation done before we pay rent in full. This complies with your 7 days notice as Saturday will be the 7th day. It may be Friday afternoon, but more than likely Saturday. Because we will have to not have access to the house for a full 24 hour period (this includes our way to cook, sleep, and have shelter for us and animals) per the ability afforded on the lease, we will be deducting $50 in full for the travel costs to stay with a family member. We have yet to discuss this with the family member, but in assuming we will have to stay somewhere besides a hotel because of pets, the $50 will be barely adequate to cover the gasoline cost and the cost to eat a warm meal before we can get down there. If this does not work, we will be back in touch with you about any additional costs to stay somewhere/board animals as it is your responsibility to make sure we have a place to be during that 24 hour period. Chances are however, the family member will be okay with this date and arrangement.

It is regretful that many of the comments listed above appear to be emotionally charged and retaliatory in nature ( i.e. Rent due exactly on the first when you were fine with slight delays as long as we communicated with you about this,the chainsaw having to be given back so soon with no genuine explanation other than you wanting it back, etc). As stated before, we had meant no malice in our stating the winterizing needs of the rental and the request to have privacy. These are essential needs for any tenant anywhere (proper insulation for heat and privacy) and it is regrettable that coming to you in an air of cooperation brought negative comments/ open judgements from you that we have never received before. We have comments too, but are not airing negative things in a personal way because we wish to remain professional in our relationship to you. Though you may have not meant any ill intent in your arriving giving little but a twenty to thirty minute warning, no matter what the reason, we would very much appreciate the 48 hour notice from here on out. For instance, the time both of you came out right after the first insulation inspection, Shannon also noticed that Billy had every key to the place including the skeleton key to the front door hanging on his neck that day. That showed us there could have been intent to enter the premises without warning or notice. In the future, as you do give us notice, there has to be adequate reasoning for coming by. There is little reason to be at the house right now, other than the insulation on the 11th, and to pick up the chainsaw. ( We will plug in the old refrigerator for LGE one hour prior to the pick up, just let us know about the time they are coming.) When coming to get the chainsaw, we will place it in the back shed area so that there is no need to enter the home. We are requesting that it not be picked up on my birthday this coming Monday as to the plans to have company at the house. We would love to leave the chainsaw for your pick up on Tuesday if that is okay. If not, ok. Just let us know which one. As far as the outside light, we noticed that as well the last time when we came back from being at our folks (the week before Thanksgiving). We have no idea how that came to be that way, and was wondering if it was weather related.

To be clear, giving notice includes being on the 18 acre property as well as entering the home. I state this though it may seem obvious because the last time Billy had come by to install the bushes, he called Shannon once he was already on the property and with no warning he was coming. It is about respecting our privacy, and our schedules too, and I thank you in advance in your understanding of this need and right.

We do not however appreciate the tone that the only reason why we are asking for the insulation done on the home is because of any income issue on our end. You have always received your rent, and it is not fair to have the direct attack on us or on Shannon and whether he as employment or not. As long as you get your rent, it matters not who is paying for it. Last time I checked, we spoke to you last about Shannon needing work months ago, so I thought Id also share that it is a big assumption on your part as to whether he has employment at this time. The personal jabs are not acceptable. Though the intent to try and employ Shannon was most likely good on your end, we considered it a conflict of interest, especially working for Ford, the same employer that you both have worked for. In addition, the assumption that he had not been trying to find work suitable for himself, was rather in poor taste. You may have not meant it that way, but that is the air it came off as. Shannon, due to his disabilities, cannot work in just any work environment. We had shared with you that he was unexpectedly unemployed merely so you would have an understanding/explanation if the rent was slightly late. I had personally thought you would understand most of all, considering your sharing with us that your own son had suffered from the same terribly difficult disorder. (As a personal side note, we genuinely express our condolences to the both of you, as we know this time of year is especially difficult. We recently inadvertently found out his date of passing, and it oddly enough is the same death date as Shannon's father who also chose to end his life.. It is difficult during the holidays anyhow. We understand, and express our deepest of sympathies. We are sure you miss him greatly, as we all do our loved ones, and are sorry for your loss near the holidays.)

As far as the shed painting work you gave Shannon, yes--it was highly appreciated and we expressed that already. But I believe that we both benefited from that situation, considering the work Shannon did painting both sheds was easily more than $200 worth of work. I point this out because your email implies we are a charity case instead of respectful adults and I am not going to engage in an email war of insults.

To mention your "over the moon" comment, though it is not our exact words, you are correct, we do like the house very much and was very happy to move in to a beautiful home such as this historic place. Many of those reasons are why we chose to rent it. We did however assume it was or was going to be winterized per our conversations about the weather stripping, etc, and the mere fact that it is a year lease showed us that the place would/should be winterized. We appreciated moving in to a house for us ready to go in many other ways (as per your list of things done to the house prior to our being tenants there), and that is why we gave you a thank you card expressing the care given to make sure it was nice upon move in. But might I point out that anything done prior to the house before our renting it is irrelevant to the current need of insulation. I assume that is why you are charging us the rental amount that you agreed to of $750, especially since we had heard that the last tenants you had were charged $550/month. So I'm guessing the work you had done in the meantime is why the rent is probably higher.

No one asks to open a wall and look at the insulation or go into the attic and see how old or if the roof is insulated, or go under the craw space of a house to see if the pipes are winterized when looking at rental. People assume it is done properly if the place is being rented for year round use. With that said, we are happy that the work is going to be done soon, so that we can put this negative interaction behind us and that we can stay properly warm.

To be clear and ridiculously redundant, we do not wish to have a negative relationship with our landlords. We plan on paying you rent in full every month (with the small deductions when needed as we have). If you wish to have communication on the first if it must be late or partially late, we can do that. Our intent is to be paying on time, and to uphold the lease as per our tenant duties. Prior to this situation there was give and take from both parties to keep things professional and comfortable. It is our hopes that this rapport can continue. Please let us know if you have any further questions about the nature or content of this email so any miscommunication or confusions can be avoided. Thanks for your time.

Regards ,

Julia Lynch & Shannon Peterson

Thank you for all the replies.  To be clear, the Notice of eviction...7 days to pay the rent in full or I will proceed with the eviction process, was sent after I responded to their first letter. This is the process in KY.(They were already 5 days late with rent.) At the very end of the letter 

11. We had already scheduled the insulation installation, but considered canceling because of your note. I will be sending the email from Energy Savers shortly. Please confirm the date and conditions of the installation if you intend to stay.

I stated that the insulation upgrade to close cell polyurethane foam was already scheduled to be installed.The insulation was installed on Dec 11, so there is no repairs I have not made or promises that have not been kept, at this time.  I never promised upgraded insulation, I told them it was something I still wanted to do to the house.

I would keep this on file with an attorney and if you feel this may be a back and forth every month, I would no longer accept any late payments and send a Notice to Quit the following day a rent payment is late. It seems you were a bit too lenient with them to begin with and never share your personal, financial or confidential information with tenants. Why on earth would you do that?

Originally posted by @Lisa Casey :

Thank you for your response,

I did send the eviction notice and they paid on the last day.  I had already scheduled the insulation but considered canceling after the letter.  So they are paid up for now and they have their insulation. All their complaints are not accurate.  I would also like to mention they are getting assistance from LG&E  (low income) for heating bills, food stamps etc since the job loss.  I also received partial rent payment from a church, that they do not even attend or are members. I asked for them to show me their high heating and cooling bills but that did not  happen.  You are right, this will never end, just waiting for the next shoe to drop.

They are up to date on their rent, albeit with outside assistance, so you are both okay for December. That's good!  If you completed the weatherization, according to what is reasonable by industry standards and there are no outstanding hazards, then no need to provide any rent concession. Keep good documentation. Enjoy the holidays.

Since you view the tenants as being from "hell" perhaps you have no hope of reconciliation. Have you given up on the tenancy, both short-term and long-term?

Because of the tenants' change in circumstances, it is likely they will not be able to afford to rent your property on-going. So they will need to start looking elsewhere for housing that is more affordable for them. Wish them well and make it easy for them to make the transition. Aim for a win-win. 

However, if they do recover from the job loss, they may be able to get back on their feet again and start performing well as tenants. Be ready for that as well. 

It would be in the best interest of all parties to move past the negativity and get on better terms with one another, regardless. Best practice is to be firm, fair, and friendly. Check your frustration and anger.... stay calm and carry on. Respect goes along way, cultivate that.

@Lisa Casey - you really need to disconnect emotionally from these tenants and use this as a learning experience.

Sounds like you've taken the right action by posting 7-day notice, however you also need to make sure that rent and late fees are paid in full.  If they want to continue being late then make sure you get compensated for the hassle until you can get them out.  Beyond that, I would suggest hiring an attorney and having all correspondence go through them.  It won't be cheap, but it will allow you to disconnect from the situation and treat it as a business transaction instead of a personal ordeal.

Consider the attorney fees as tuition for the valuable lessons of the school of hard knocks :)

Good luck and great idea to do file the eviction notice. Keep filing for every small thing they are late on so you have a record. I have had one bad tenant who always paid but annoyed the heck out of us with petty complaints. He wasn't a bad guy, just way too meticulous with everything. We let him leave his lease early and thank god he left.

Hi @Lisa Casey ,

My couple points.

1) I would recommend following the lease to the letter for rent etc

2) I would not allow her to decide "When little adjustments need to be made for the rent". From the tone of her letter it sounds like every month she is taking some money off here and there and deciding when she should and shouldn't. If she needs something fixed she can contact you. For the remainder of the lease I would fix everything myself or send someone out. Do not give her the power to change her rent at will.

3) What is causing them to be removed from the house for a day to stay with family? You might want to consult your lease/local law, it may only be 1/30th assuming it is something that you forced her to lose access to the house.

4) All my discussions with her would be as short as possible. Make sure they simply state facts. No opinions or long winded posts. Simple like "Contractor will be there at 1:00PM on January 4th to fix hole in driveway".

5) She knows a whole lot about you and your family on a personal level and has no problem bringing things up if it suits her needs. I would ensure she did not have any additional information from you. I also would not be in conversations where she had that opportunity again, I would be business only (but polite). It sounds like you guys were friendly and able to stop over and grab things or take care of things and they took it as an invasion. Ensure you are not getting that close.

6) If sending a inspector or contractor make sure you specify that they are not to discuss the work with the tenant. This whole situation was actually caused because you got a free home efficiency inspection and the guy went out and played the sales game on your tenants. He was telling them how bad everything was and what all needed to be done and how they were going to die if they didn't get this changed. Had that company had any professionalism they would not have been discussing these things with them and instead with the owner.

Just my two cents and good luck!

Originally posted by @Lisa Casey :

Marcia.

I see I have to be more careful in the future and not let my emotions get the best of me.

Thank you for all the time and thought you put into your email. I appreciate your non biased recommendations. The house was insulated, I was just upgrading it  to close cell polyurethane foam insulation. The insulation was already scheduled to be done and we had the cash to pay for it.  At this time the new insulation is completed.

 Since you seem to be good at looking at both sides, I would appreciate your analysis of the following communication, and yes.... I was angry when I wrote the letter...The tenants response to it follows. Apologize for the long long emails. 

 I did response to them with this letter addressing their concerns:

Julia and Shannon,

Sorry to hear you are so unhappy and feel you are being unfairly treated. .....

Tenants Response:

Lisa & Billy,

We are happy to hear that the insulation/weatherization is going to be taking place next Friday, December 11th. .....

My thoughts:

Your letter to them provides some good documentation for you. I think it was well written and addressed their points with facts. Only a couple of places where your emotions (frustration/anger) showed through.

Their response letter strikes me as off base and far more emotionally charged than yours. Looks like they have some buttons you inadvertently pushed. Let it go. Don't let them hook you into further dialogue on the matter.

This is one reason we don't do emails with tenants and we keep our communications short, to the point, and factual.

At this juncture:

1. Be firm about the full amount of rent due. Paying $50 less is not an option if they wish to continue to reside in the house they are renting. There is no relationship between their obligation to pay rent in full when it is due and scheduling for maintenance/repair/improvement needs. Their inconvenience is negligible for this type of improvement work.

2. Re-establish your intent to enforce the terms of the rental agreement. Rent is due on the first and late on the second. The new year is a great time to re-establish how you will handle late rent and how you will apply late fees.

3. Right to enter premises does indeed apply to the house, outbuildings and outside premises. So be careful about that. Give proper notice each time from this point forward. Some tenants tend to be more private than others. So be it.

4. She mentions her husband has disabilities. Unless they specifically request an accommodation related to his disability, be careful not to mention the disability in any conversation. If they make a disability related request, tread carefully. Note, even people with disabilities need to pay rent in full and on time.

5. Do not offer to allow your tenants to work for you for pay. It opens up more liability for you. What if he becomes injured on the job? Are you reporting his wages to the IRS properly on a 1099 as an independent contractor?

6. The letter from the tenant speaks volumes about her mentality. I would avoid unnecessary contact with these tenants. I would also schedule regular maintenance inspections to make sure they are taking care of the place and not violating the terms of the rental agreement. Some of what she says appears to me to be passive-aggressive and some of it is stated in a way to "bait" you.  

7.  It appears the dye is cast and the relationship may be beyond repair. You both will benefit from a cooling off period. If they give you any indication that they want out of the lease, let them go without penalty. Negotiate in a manner that encourages them to leave on good terms and without damaging the premises. If they don't pay rent on time in January and you need to post notice, proceed with eviction if they don't pay in a timely manner. Secure the services of a qualified attorney if you are not well versed in evictions.

8. Think about how you will do tenant screening in the future that will result in good long term tenants. Become knowledgeable about landlord-tenant law for your jurisdiction, to guide you in doing things lawfully and to also shed light on recognizing when tenants are saying bogus things.  Good luck!