Tenant's Children's friends causing problems.

17 Replies

Hi Bigger Pockets,

My wife and I own a 3 unit property and we currently live in one of the units. Each unit is 3 bed 2 baths. Our tenants are okay, they pay on time every month for the last 2 years since we've bought the place. They are pretty amicable and don't bug us about every little thing and only emergencies. One of the tenants is a single mother with 3 children between 8 - 14ish and their grandma. The kids are decently well behave but the problem is, sometimes they have friends over and sometimes they hang out by the porch where my wife has potted plants and flowers and sometimes they would bounce the ball and it would destroy the plants. I've told them whenever I see them and told their mom and grandma about it multiple times (10 + times) in the last 2 years for them to talk to the kids' friends. Today they just busted another flower so my wife wants to raise the rent. We are fairly inexperienced landlords, so if anyone has any advice for this situation, that would be great. Short of running a security system with camera, how do we prevent this in the future. The other tenant has one child that's around 7 or 8 but the kid never plays on the porch or outside so I'm pretty sure it's always that one particular tenant.

Are they M2M tenants or on a term lease? If they have been warned multiple times, I'd send a formal letter to the tenant explaining the situation and asking her to make sure it doesn't happen anymore. I'd wait and see then if it continues, and if it does, I would raise the rent to compensate for the damage assuming they're month to month or if this is just unacceptable period, give them their 30 day notice and get new tenants, your choice.

Steven Yu

Maybe it's just me...but I say....who cares?

Just stop planting flowers there. I certainly consider myself a no non-sense kind of landlord...and maybe it's because I don't live in any of my rentals. But personally, I wouldn't care about a couple flowers being ruined by some kids playing ball.

Good luck,

Thats what happens when you have kids around . I have 2 boys , they break things from time to time . So when it happens , I make them responsible to fix or replace .  They have to work it off . 

It's a rental property, tenants rarely care about anything. You need to change where you are planting to avoid problems in the future.

Everything about a rental must be designed to avoid damage and maintenance.

The problem here is that this sounds like a public area, available for everyone's use. Unfortunately for you, tenants will break stuff, and unless you specified breakage costs in your lease, you're out of luck. Yes, boys will be boys, but that doesn't mean you need to accept-or eat-the cost of the pots. I would show the damage to the tenant and ask them to pay to replace it; then maybe its a good idea not to put them back in that same spot. Just know you may not get what you ask for.

When tenants invite someone else in that damages your property, the tenant is responsible for that damage: be sure your lease states that. Your scenario is a bit more tricky, because you put the pots in a public area, but you should still get replacement value for the damages. Then learn from this, and document it  by including what you learned in your updated Lease Addendum. Just don't get overly strict, or you may find it tough to rent to anyone.

Well, since you have already talked to the mom and grandmom, I would call the police next. Not to arrest anyone , but to talk to the adults and possibly scare the kids with punishment options. The kids may just need be "scared straight" to show that you are serious about your property not being damaged.

Just send her the bill for the replqcement flowers.

It may be a lot more expensive to get new tenants then to replace your flowers or move them somewhere else. It sounds like your wife is angry with the neighbors and wants something done. However, having tenants is a business even if they are your neighbors and emotional decision making can be expensive. If your wife is willing to go through the expense of changing paying tenants for new tenants raise the rent or put in cameras. If not, you and her may just have to adjust a little.

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Get rid of the flowers.  No breaks, no $$ and no stress about the next time it will get damaged.

@Michelle B.   Call the police? Really? I am positive law enforcement has priorities above kids playing in a common area and accidentally knocking over a flower pot. 

@Steven Yu The first step would be to take a step back, capture yourself, then address the issue in the right way. By no means should you react on the spot and do something you will regret. 

My thoughts:

  • What will raising rent do? Do you think by raising rent you can use that extra money to buy new flowers each time? Or do you want to raise the rent in hopes that they will leave? You say they pay rent on time each month and generally cause no issues. Is it worth it to have them leave? Perhaps, just get rid of the flowers.
  • DO NOT call the police. That makes no sense. They are not throwing rocks at cars, they are bouncing a ball on a porch and damaging your flowers.
  • People are right. Even though you live there and want to make it like a home for yourself, you still have tenants there. Anytime you can't control how someone treats your things (tenants), you need to make it as indestructible as you can.

In short, I think the easiest and less stressful approach would be to remove the flowers from that spot. As much as you want to stand for principle, it's the best approach to take. Trust me, I have made some hot head mistakes, but have quickly learned its better to swallow your pride.

I'm mostly just adding to the chorus here but I would agree that simply moving the flowers would be the simplest solution. You say that they are not the kind of tenants to complain about minor inconveniences and I'm certain that calling the cops on their friends would change that in a hurry. Especially if you are living in the property, it's important to remember that tenants are just people. It may be worth talking to the kid who's friends are causing the issue. Let him/her know that the flowers are important to your wife and that it hurts you that they keep getting broken. I work with kids that age in my W-2 job and they are surprisingly reasonable when they feel they are being treated with respect. If that doesn't work, just move the dang flowers. 

 Good luck.

Heavy duty steel flower pot. Non breakable. 

That is one of the downsides of house hacking.  Your tenant is your neighbor.  My wife and I have a rule that our tenants are not our friends.  My wife goes so far as to call them Mr. X or Ms Y and doesn't allow them to use her first name.  It's a business and you have to treat it as such.  

The question that I would ask is, do you want to make this a landlord/tenant issue or a neighbor/neighbor issue?

You can't just arbitrarily raise the rent because they broke something.  You can dock the security deposit if it isn't a "wear and tear" issue.  You can raise rent with notice on a M2M or at renewal on an annual lease.

Personally, I might go the neighbor to neighbor route and just ask the parents to pay for the broken item as if you were a "regular" neighbor and not a landlord.  If you go this route, make sure they understand you're speaking as their neighbor and not their LL.

With a complicated situation, one must learn to wear many hats.


I'd limit the porch area for use, we had a large porch area for a 6 plex, the only people allowed to use the porch were tenants that had windows that faced the porch. It was not considered a common area. They could not sit on the steps or block the entry. They couldn't keep bikes on the porch, no nothing.

You can restrict the usage for all the residents. You can take off any chairs or porch furniture to make it less of a hang out area. 

Flowers are pretty but we used hanging pots from porch so didn't have to worry about cigarette butts in pots or them getting knocked over. 

Lose the plants. I think you have to remember to treat this as a business and not a personal issue. 

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