Tenant late on rent and refuses late fees

34 Replies

Hi

I am a new land lord and facing a menacing tenant. This guys history checked out OK but his lies started from the time he said he will move in. Finally when I told him to confirm and pay the rent by 5th or I will rent the place to another applicant, he sent the payments. He did not pay rent on time one single time. Second month he said his payroll got messed up and he is drawing money from 401k ( yeah right !!!) and finally paid around 20 th but included the $100 late fees and promised to pay before 1st every month. 

3rd month, paid 3 days late and when asked about the late fees, gave me a lecture about how to run " my business". He changed his stance time and officially said he can pay any time before the month end and it will cost me to go to a court.

My real estate agent is the one who screened this tenant who says I need to deal with guy with kid gloves. He says not to send any more email reminders or late fee notices but just record all the corrospondence with him and not renew his lease which expires end of June.

This month he sends a " hey you can expect rent this Friday" Mail on 5th when he rent is due and no rent today as well.

I am worried if this guy will make more mess and not leave the property.

Pls advise.

what does your lease say???? This is critical!

Look, if he's late, evict. simple as that. Don't wait until June, and don't stop pushing for the rent. He's skating while you're busting his balls, imagine if you give him a free ride!

Boot him now, or he will be squatting in June, and follow your lease

The sooner he is out, the sooner a tenant who pays in full and on time goes in.

Read up on tenant/landlord issues in the section here and read Erick Drenkhahn's blog  No Nonsense Landlord.

Next have sit down with your property manager or real estate agent and let that person know exactly what qualifies as a good tenant.

It is better to have a vacant unit than a tenant that trashes your property or overstays the lease.

I don't let tenants get away with not paying late fees.  There have been cases where I made an exception for the tenant, but that was MY decision, not theirs.  My lease dictates how payments are applied.  Payments go to the oldest charge first then newest.

So if the rent was $900 in December, and they incurred a late fee of $50 but only paid $900, then that late fee is still outstanding.  I would send them a statement showing that they owe $50 for December and $900 for January.  

Let's say they pay $900 again but are late so another $50 late fee.  Now the statement shows that they are paid up in December, but owe $100 for January. So there's never any balance for a prior month unless they didn't pay at all.

How late is he? Is he still current? It is he skipping payments entirely? Is it something as simple as adjusting his due date to the end of the month? 

Try to keep the relationship positive. You don't want him actively trying to screw you over prior to eviction (if needed). 

As a last resort, instead of evicting him you can do "Cash For Keys" and pay him $200 to move out. It's cheaper and faster than him tearing your unit apart while waiting on the eviction process.

As a side note, find yourself a great screening process. This is vital to ensuring your units get great tenants.

Good luck!

Hi

Thanks for the replies. He is current but seems like he is  a bait and switch personality who is trying to subvert the lease by letting me break the lease agreement my self. 

My lease says that rent is due on 1st and is considered late on 6 th day with a $100 fees.

Today he is asking me come and pick cash as rent. I am sure he will not include the late fees. I politely asked him to deposit it my bank as I think that is another of this tools to mess up the situation. I am conversing with him on phone and communicating only through email to maintain the records.

I have another worry. If I ask him to leave after his lease expires, will he still try to play games by not finding a place to move to? I am sure I will mention the facts if a prospective landlord approaches me to vet him out as the previous landlord. I have a feeling that his previous landlord lied to my property manager ( she said that this guy vacated her property on one day but this guy moved in to my place about a month later)

I know I may be overthinking but I am really worried that my very first tenant turns out to be so bad.

I meant to say that I am NOT speaking to him but communicating through email as the last conversation I tried to have with him did not go well. He gave me lecture on how I don't "NEED" the rent money but how it is important to him and how he will pay rent before the month end and how difficult it is to go after him for the $100 by going to court etc..

Not wanting to waste any more time with this insane person, I just wished him happy new year and came back. Yes it was first of the month and he yelled that he does not owe me money on that day.

I didn't want to aggravate him any more and wanted to deal with him in a cool manner so as to not get hot tempered and say some thing inappropriate in a heated moment.

Gosh this guy is really making me think why I should go through all this nonsense.

Thanks

This person has to go. Learn about the procedure in Virginia, post the necessary notice and go hire a lawyer that does evictions. Your grounds are nonpayment of late fees which should be treated as nonpayment of rent under a well crafted lease. You might be able to shepherd an eviction through the courts on your own at some point in the future but now is not the time. You have a difficult tenant and you do not know how to handle the situation.

I had one of these tenants. Mine started the stuff in month seven. My leases are closed end. I was firm on the rules and he always broke them. I communicated like a landlord and avoided a full conflict. Then sixty days before the lease ended I sent a certified letter stating the last day of the lease and when he should move out. By the time we got to the last 30 days he refused to open the door when I announced I was coming for an inspection. I kept my cool and communicated the issues. He left on the last day of the lease, and left behind many problems, not huge ones. I deducted the charges from his deposit and mailed the final letter with a check for less than 100 dollars, what was left of his deposit. He never cashed the check. That was the end of it.

Originally posted by @Ron Smith :

I meant to say that I am NOT speaking to him but communicating through email as the last conversation I tried to have with him did not go well. He gave me lecture on how I don't "NEED" the rent money but how it is important to him and how he will pay rent before the month end and how difficult it is to go after him for the $100 by going to court etc..

Not wanting to waste any more time with this insane person, I just wished him happy new year and came back. Yes it was first of the month and he yelled that he does not owe me money on that day.

I didn't want to aggravate him any more and wanted to deal with him in a cool manner so as to not get hot tempered and say some thing inappropriate in a heated moment.

Gosh this guy is really making me think why I should go through all this nonsense.

Thanks

 Please reconsider your mentality and methods, you must start treating this like a business. Businesses run using the legal means of the law, start enforcing everything with this tenant to the letter of the law, keep it all business like. You've got a lot to learn and this tenant is going to be the one who teaches you the lessons. He needs to tow the line or be evicted, I'd start looking at an eviction as your goal with him and start putting the pieces in place. It's important as a landlord to at some point learn the laws that protect your business and how to use and enforce them. This isn't a game, you've got a lot at stake, the sooner you get rid of this tenant the better off you are going to be. Replace him with a good tenant and your outlook will change 180 degrees. Please contact a good real estate lawyer who can do evictions and tell him all the details of what you are going through and together he can help you put a plan together to rid you of this tenant.

PS if it's legal in your state - ask the lawyer... I'd get rid of any grace periods in your leases. If you have a grace period to the 5th then the rent is really due on the 5th. Get rid of grace periods, the rent is due on the 1st, end of story. After the 1st it's late, ends all the game playing.

We've been going through something similar with a tenant for a number months  and thankfully she is breaking her lease early and is scheduled to move out at the end of this month. If she does, it will be happy days again.

None of the clauses in our lease seem to matter to her: smoking, moving an extra person in, sneaking in an extra animal..etc. She pays just under the wire at the end of the State allowed grace period so that it really didn't make sense to bring an eviction action against her as it will cost us plenty and there is only a small chance of prevailing. Our local housing court (New Haven) places greater priority on Non-payment of Rent followed by Significant Damages and doesn't really want to be bothered with what they deem minor lease infractions. In all fairness to our housing court, they are great when someone isn't paying.

It's best to be careful with tenants like this as they know their rights and they try to get to you (the LL) to make mistakes that they can use against you later. Be polite and professional at all times, never show them emotion. 

There are a few approaches that I use with difficult tenants:

1) We try to appeal to their sense of reason by having a calm discussion with them about the quality product/service we are providing them and the only way that we can continue to do that is for the tenants to hold up their end of the bargain. This works more than 1/2 the time  with pretty good results.

2) But If #1 doesn't work - then we raise their rent 10 - 30% on the renewal. We give them 120 days notice and let them know that we would be delighted to have them stay on but unfortunately increased costs and market forces are going to require a rental increase of $xxx.xx. We require them to commit to the renewal 90 days before expiration, so that gives them 30 days to think about the increase and to scramble to find a cheaper place. The majority will leave for cheaper pastures but for those who want to stay and pay there is more than a little satisfaction in knowing that you have successfully 'taxed' their bad behavior. 

Rick 

Hi

This is where rubber meets the road. I sent a notice to the tenant that his lease which expires on June 30 will not be renewed and emails me back that he is going "out of country" and will not vacate. He refused the certified mail too. I got an attorney and send a 5 day notice and it seems he called the attorney and told him the same. Not sure what my chances are to get him evicted by June 30 basing on the late fees. He is still yet to pay any rent for May.  My lease has terms about paying a 150% pro rata rent  if he stays beyond the lease term but not sure how I can enforce that either. May I know if the right option is to go all he way, spend the money on attorney, take a loss on rental income and be prepared for any damage to the property?

I am not sure if cash for keys works here too as this tenant is totally untrustworthy. He can say something and stand by it. He is not going by a signed lease and I am here so not sure if it is worth it to even entertain any negotiations.

Thanks

Ron

@Ron Smith Sorry, but I think your best option would be to start the eviction process now for nonpayment of May plus any other outstanding balance from the prior months where the late fee was not paid.  Based on your previous posts I don't think this guy will consider or honor a Cash for Keys as he is trying to play the system.  I know you want to avoid an eviction and the costs, but based on the guy's response to you and your lawyer it seems like you will be doing an eviction now or at the end of June either way so why wait.    

That stinks.  I would have applied the late fee for the 2nd on the 3rd day late and posted notice.  If rent and fees are not paid in full and they are still there on the 7th day, I would have gotten with an attorney to start the eviction and the tenant wouldn't hear from/see me again.

You train them to stay under your rules or you evict them and brand them as the crappy tenant they are.  Under the first scenario where he paid on the ~20th is when you should have started the process to get rid of him.

Hopefully everything works out and your unit doesn't get messed up.  Good luck!

Originally posted by @Stephen E.:

This person has to go. Learn about the procedure in Virginia, post the necessary notice and go hire a lawyer that does evictions. Your grounds are nonpayment of late fees which should be treated as nonpayment of rent under a well crafted lease. You might be able to shepherd an eviction through the courts on your own at some point in the future but now is not the time. You have a difficult tenant and you do not know how to handle the situation.

 I think you have finally come to the point of eviction, foretold four months ago. I would not have let this drag on, it was quite clear from your earlier correspondence that this tenant is nothing but trouble. It is good that you have hired a lawyer, hopefully one with lots of eviction expertise. I would make sure that the papers are properly served (procedures for service will be set out by the state, be sure that you follow them fully so as to avoid delay) then have the lawyer see this through. I would not listen to any more nonsense from the tenant, I would just let the attorney handle things and refer any tenant communication to the attorney. Tell him to email the attorney and not bother you. Don't let the tenant bully you any more. The sooner the tenant goes the sooner you will have a chance of getting a paying tenant who is not sheer torture to deal with. On the upside, things can only get better so long as you increase your care in screening. Your initial posts make it clear that this guy was trouble from the start. I would have refused keys as soon as he had trouble coming up with move in monies on a timely basis. Better to do without a month's rent than to get into these kinds of headaches.

Good luck with this.

Yes. Now that I started searching his information, I am finding a lot of skeletons in the cup board. This guys has an UD in EVERY county he has been. There are atleast 3 - 4 landlords and companies after him not to speak of collection agencies with "cases dismissed", "Not found/served"etc. I see he vacated from a different state as soon as he was served a summons from a landlord at a place where he stayed in 2012.

Does any one know if I can show his past records to the judge and ask the judge to "advise" this guy to leave at the end of the lease?? which could be very close to the day his lease expires.

I am not sure how capable my lawyer is in evictions but I am going to inform him as to who he is dealing with first thing tomorrow.

once the 5 day notice is posted, I haven't seen any rent for this month.

worried about whats the worst that can happen here? How long can the tenant drag the case and stay rent free? or will he pack up once summons for UD are issued to him as in my case I am not renewing the lease and not sure if the tenant has any grounds to fight it basing on " I am going out of country" excuse?

Thanks

Ron

I don't understand something.

In your first post you said that your realtor screened this guy.....

How did this guy get past this screening? Did you really screen this guy or take a recommendation?

That is THE bummer. I had the realtor who acted as the buyers agent, screen the guy. The agent came back saying that the credit score for this guy is not good but since he does not have any bad history in the last one year or so ( credit wise ) and no bad rental history in past two years- nothing of which is showing up on his credit report anyway, it's ok to rent to this tenant. In other words I TRUSTED my realtor as its the second house I bought through him, the first being my current primary home.

I just had a "meeting" with him explaining all that I found so far out in the court records and how bad his screening process is. At this point I don't want to make more enemies and my first and foremost goal is to evict this tenant. Part of the reason why the agents search came clean could be because the day the tenant got a summons he already filled in the rental application and it is too early for the background check process to reflect that update.  The tenant is from an out of state. Another big stupid stuff from my realtor is not sharing the results of the so called background report. Had I seen it earlier with all his previous addresses, I would have found his history from court records. Turns out his current landlord's details he filled in are his "wife/girlfriend's". No wonder the tenant had great references :-). 

I feel I am lucky so far as at least he paid the rents so far, the landlord who sued him earlier claims that he squatted for over an year and owes like 30,000. Not sure how I can make sure I don't end up like him. 

Any advice to impress the judge to evict this fraudster is really appreciated.

Thanks

Ron

I really don't mean to harp on about the screening process, but this is useful for the noobs.

Something like Transunion would have shown everything from every state, not just like the last year. So it's odd that nothing came up. Did the realtor just run through the county records?

And again, you are living proof of why "previous landlord details" are utterly useless.

As for realtors, don't feel bad about dropping them. Ten a penny, and it's hard to make a case that they are a good realtor when you're going through this.

@Ron Smith Not trying to rub salt in the wound here Ron but, there's lot's of lessons to be learned here.

  • Screen your tenants well.  If you have a PM do it, make sure they forward you the background and credit info of the new tenant.
  • Put them on electronic payments with automatic late fees, no partial payments accepted.
  • Make it a policy to start eviction proceedings automatically after day 10 late.
  • Pass eviction related costs that they incur by being 10+ days late onto the tenant before resuming the lease. ($150 filing fees, $50 handling fee, etc)
  • Put these details into your leases.

As for advice, you could tell the guy that you will record the eviction and that will appear on his credit report.  You can also pay collection companies a flat fee ($20) to send a nasty letter for non payment, mentioning his credit will be affected.  Remind him many employers are looking at credit these days. That's about all I can think of.

And as you're marching up the court house steps and that little voice tells you "this was your fault Ron" make sure you reply "and it will never happen again" :)