HELP....I HAVE THE TENANT FROM HELL!

89 Replies

Hi all, I am a newbie to BiggerPockets and am still learning to use the site. But... I need some help Now! 

I negotiated a discounted rental rate on a 24 month lease back in February with a single woman and her dog because she would be the perfect tenant.... WRONG!  She called to complain about something almost every day.... She was complaining about the HVAC not heating or cooling and after I sent HVAC guys over there 4 times I found out that she was refusing to run the unit because she was worried about her electric bill. I finally texted her telling her that she had to let it run ... I was done! 

During all of these repair attempts she insisted on being present because she told me "her dog can be vicious".  I pulled her file and discovered that the form I require for dogs in my properties had not been completed by a Vet and did not state that the dog was not aggressive toward humans.  Based on these grounds, I sent her a certified letter giving her 30 day notice to vacate. She sent back a certified letter saying she would not and included a completed form from her vet and, paraphrased, I was stupid. 

Next, she called my husband on Saturday night and told him a small area in the kitchen floor was flooded. He went over and turned the water to the ice maker on the frig off and vacuumed as much water as he could and asked her to watch it and let him know.  A week passed and on Saturday (again) she called and asked my husband to turn the ice maker back on.  He was supposed to return Sunday morning to do that but he told her how to turn the water back on at the shut off valve under the sink.  She had water and ice in the door again. At that time she said she was concerned that there might be mold growing in that area and asked him to come back over and check that.  I told my husband NO! 

Today he told her that since she takes her dog to "doggie Care" on Tuesdays he would go over today to check it out.  She informed him that she doesn't feel comfortable with either of us in the house without her being present.  I'm at the end of my patience with this woman.  I'm considering burning the house down!!! (just kidding).... HELP?????

What happened to the 30 day notice you already served her? All my leases have a section stating I can terminate the lease early with a proper 30 day notice for any circumstance I deem necessary. If the 30 days has past start the eviction process. It's much quicker if they haven't left after the 30 days is up. 

If you are worried she will destroy the house on the way out offer cash for keys. 

Offer her entire security deposit back if she leaves within x amount of days and have that signed as well. 

For future reference don't put in fridges with ice makers in rentals. They are the first thing to break and cause problems. When she leaves sell it and get a very basic fridge (or remove ice maker). Also, I notice that if people try to negotiate rent and you give in they think they can get anything from you they want, just like this tenant. 

Hi @Sharon C Hartless - I am sorry that you are having troubles.  For next time, definitely make sure to outline how you will handle service calls, etc.  The more you explain upfront, the smoother things will go. Also,  I am hopeful that you have already outlined upfront what pet types/breeds you can or cannot allow, etc.   If she is so unhappy there,  you can always offer to let her out of her lease and peacefully part ways. Much better than continued frustration on both parts in my opinion, and you can rerent it during the summer months.  However, you may be surprised to find that when you give her that option, that things will get better.  

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Thanks Jonna, I think I have it settled now! This is what I did via text:

D, 

For the record...

As you requested, Gene called you this morning and offered to go to the house today, while your dog is at doggie daycare, to check resent repairs. You stated to him that you don't feel comfortable with either of us in the house without you being present. This is our notice to you that neither of us feel comfortable being at the house with you there. Your lease requires you to pay for all repairs under $50 so, if you need a repair you are to notify me by "text" and I will refer your request to a third party of my choice. My business hours are Monday through Friday 9am - 5pm. Any text or call from you outside of business hours will be considered harassment. Sharon

Yeah I would recommend being a little more "solution" oriented and not getting into pissing matches with your tenants.

I don't see any way that your email is going to make things better. Stick to the lease, when it's broken you can evict. I will also say this: There are plenty of people in the world who are a pain in the ***, and they need a place to live too. You must learn to deal with them.

This isn't the tenant from hell, it's just your average pain in the ***, of which you should expect to meet many more. Your job is to keep her happy and paying

Originally posted by @Sharon C Hartless :

Thanks Jonna, I think I have it settled now! This is what I did via text:

D, 

For the record...

As you requested, Gene called you this morning and offered to go to the house today, while your dog is at doggie daycare, to check resent repairs. You stated to him that you don't feel comfortable with either of us in the house without you being present. This is our notice to you that neither of us feel comfortable being at the house with you there. Your lease requires you to pay for all repairs under $50 so, if you need a repair you are to notify me by "text" and I will refer your request to a third party of my choice. My business hours are Monday through Friday 9am - 5pm. Any text or call from you outside of business hours will be considered harassment. Sharon

 Okay, well, you sorta got this right.  But, do you really want her to wait until Monday at 9am if the place catches on fire Friday at 6pm?

I think you were right to draw a line in the sand that you're not her puppets she gets to watch dance, but....there's a way to do that diplomatically.  It takes practice.  

Here's what I suggest at this point: Go get that fridge and replace it with one that doesn't have an ice maker.

In the future, you simply give notice of when you will be entering the unit.  Give her 48 hours notice and in the notice say that it is her responsibility to secure the dog or to be there if she likes, but that you will be entering.

And, as mentioned above, you can also tell her that as it appears she is not happy in the unit and is afraid of mold, etc., that she is welcome to move with 30 days notice, but this offer is only good until ________________, therefore, she must give her 30 days notice by _____________, if she wants out of the lease.

It was your bad that you didn't make sure you had that doggie certification before you let her move in, though.  That one's on you.

This sounds like the making of a nightmare down the line. A lot of bad cases start with facts similar to yours; seemingly ideal clients that make complaints as to seemingly trivial matters, but oddly enough your perfect rental that has never had any flaws begins to have dozens of issues in the span of a month. These things often escalate for some reason, and one potential reason is that the tenant may be setting up for a tenant's assertion and purposefully making matters worse. You should honestly consult with a local attorney to understand all your rights and obligations in this particular case.

Many attorneys offer free consultations, so you should find one that is right for you. This way you can protect your interest, get information on how best to begin documenting the occurrences, and prepare for the potential nightmare this will be when it comes to handling the deposit at the end of things.

You can set boundaries and expectations with your actions such as not responding to her non-emergency texts and calls after certain hours and calling/texting back within normal hours. The end of your text to her saying contact outside business hours will be considered harassment is not going to calm her down. You must be professional and professionals don't make vague threats (promises? lol) like that.

She may not be comfortable with not being there, but if a repair were an emergency, then tough for her because you're going in if the place is flooding or something crazy. I personally will be more accommodating for their presence on a non-emergency repair but not to the point that I'm losing weekends and rearranging my personal schedule all the time for them. This all goes back to boundaries and expectations.

Finally, why such a long lease? I never do longer than 12 months. I have a few tenants that only got a 3 month lease right off the bat that I will renew to a longer lease if they turn out to be good. 

Again, this all can be minimized when you professionally set your boundaries and expectations. I have had complainers before. You can be firm, but non-threatening. It's all about word-choice and delivery.

I really appreciate all the feed back. I will replace that frig the next time there's a problem. I agree it was my oversight about the dog.  I have 7 rentals and have great tenants in all the rest. I'm not accustomed to dealing with jerks. She got a great house for a cheap rent and there's no way she is leaving that deal. Finally... Yes I would like for her to call me on Monday about the house burning on Friday ... Lol

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@Sharon C Hartless we have a clause in our lease that we can enter the property with at least 24 hours notice. The tenant does not need to be there. If there is a dog I would require the animal to be inside kennel while I am there. 

I do not see any advantage to a 24 month lease versus 12 month. You can always renew their 12 month to another 12 month. 

Your text message to her was not very professional. Although I don't blame you for being pissed, you need to keep the attitude out of your correspondence. If this ends up in court, you don't want copies of text messages like that in front of the judge. Your tenant needs to contact you after hours for emergencies and that is not harassment. Don't take my message wrong. She is obviously the problem, but don't let her bait you into making mistakes that could come back to bite you.

Finally, I would be careful sending just your husband over there alone with her in the property. She sounds a little crazy and who knows what she would claim. 

Sharon if you can adjust to the fact that she is a PITA and respond to her issues in a relaxed and calm time period you will probably have no further stress. You simply take her calls with a grain of salt and as time passes she will learn you do not feel the same urgency with her issues as she does and she will stop calling except for major problems. You can simply ignore any of her concerns regarding you being in the unit alone and maybe even try to arrange all your visits when she is away. Little things like that can possibly persuade her to leave. Just make sure she is aware she can terminate the lease at any time with 60 days notice. That will eliminate any concerns about a vacancy.

It is unfortunate you have a 24 month lease, I start all mine on M2M and rarely ever change them. A M2M places the landlord in full control of assessing a new tenant. A fixed term lease does not really provide and more or less security for the landlord. Tenants leave whenever they choose regardless of the term of their lease.

She is certainly not a bad tenant but defiantly challenging. Once you adjust your approach to dealing with her your life will be much easier.

Hi Sharon, I'm not sure about the state laws in Tennessee but in Wyoming you can enter rental properties you own without tenant permission and approval so long as you don't interfere with the tenant's "quiet enjoyment" of the property.  Especially in emergencies. If she said she is concerned about mold, I would just say you consider mold an emergency because you want to make sure she is in a safe place as your tenant.  Depending on state laws, she may not have the right to tell you not to enter without her there. 

Joe, Greg and Emily... Thank you so much for your advise.  I have a tough time hiding my feelings ... This woman is a fraud and totally misrepresented herself to me during the screening process. I'm not skilled in handling this PITA because I rarely have problems with tenants. I will seek legal advise and find out if she can prevent me from entering the unit when she isn't there... But, I won't go in without her dog being confined... which she has said she will not do. I'll keep you posted...

@Sharon C Hartless

How did you do your screening process with this tenant? And do you mean by misrepresenting herself, that she came across friendly and laidback? You mentioned earlier that you "negotiated" a lease with her which makes it sound as if she had demands right off the bat. Does she at least pay rent on time? 

You must definitely learn to hide your feelings. That or learn to not be affected so much by other people's actions/words.

Also, have you met the dog before? If so, do you believe her that the dog can be aggressive or is she just saying it to prevent people from coming in? If she claims (especially in writing such as a text) that her dog is aggressive, you should require that she rehome the dog because that is a liability.

Hi Nicole,

I negotiated a long term lease with her because she represented herself as the ideal tenant. I reduced the rent from $1200 to 1075 thinking she would be great and I wouldnt have to worry about that house for a couple years. I used Transunion's Smartmove for credit and background checks. I called employer, personal references and her landlord. Everything looked good. Yes she does pay rent on time... She knows I would evict her in a heartbeat. Yes, I have met the dog that she said could be vicious and I believe her. The dog was closed up in her car and barked/growled at me like he would have me for lunch. 

I tried to evict her over the dog but ... I explained that in a previous post 

Thanks for you response

I also made a call to her previous landlord yesterday to ask if her security deposit was refunded and the landlord said NO!!! Her dog chewed the carpet up and the place was filthy. I asked this landlord why she gave me a good reference for the tenant and she responded "it was you or me. I needed her gone"!