a few tenant issues/questions

8 Replies

Thanks for any thoughts on these three issues. Sorry this is so long.

We recently purchased a 2 apartment/1 commercial multi-use property that we discovered needs a lot of work. With the property we inherited 1 tenant and his fairly lax lease. We have 2 major issues with this tenant. The first is that he smokes cigarettes and pot (not legal here) in his apartment for which we have had complaints about (as the smell travels) from both the apartment above him and from the renter of the commercial space below him. There is no mention of smoking in his lease but we have informed him that we have gotten complaints from the other tenants and he is not to smoke anything in the apt or common spaces anymore. The problem has persisted and we are not sure as to what the next steps to take to address this issue.

This same tenant also has an unauthorized person living in this apartment. When asked he says that this other person is not living there but we have been over in his apartment (with permission) 5 times in the past week because of various work that needs to be performed and this other person is there every time we have been there to do work even when the tenant is not there. He is obviously sleeping on the couch. We live in NY and have had issues dealing with squatters before as they have a lot of rights here and do not want a repeat of this situation. We have told the tenant that there is no one else allowed to live in this apartment who is not on the lease but we are not sure how to proceed. Any advice?

We own another property and have a pretty landlord friendly lease for our mostly young student tenants. Part of our lease says No Pets. We had a tenant get a dog and only discovered this 2 days before she moved out. The dog has urinated on the carpet which will require replacement (professional cleaning did not get the stain/odor out) and possible replacement of the subfloor as well. Our plan is to take her security deposit to pay for the replacement of the carpeting and to write her an invoice for the remainder of the bill and take her to small claims court if she doesn’t pay the outstanding balance. My question is what can be done to prevent this from happening in the future as in tenants just ignoring their lease. If we walk through the apartments quarterly and notice or suspect things that aren’t right is there anything other then asking them to fix the problem or threatening eviction? Obviously it doesn’t take a long time for a dog to destroy an apartment, she only had the pet for a brief period. But what do you do if you have tenants that just ignore the rules meant to protect your property.

Thanks so much for any thoughts/ideas.

Only accept tenants more responsible willing not to smoke, not to urinate with pets (together sometimes) on the floors.

It sounds like you got your hands full. My take is tell that tenant to start looking and consider packing with a letter. He will understand.

Tenant 1. Give notice of lease infraction, odor of smoke coming from aparment and unauthorized person.. give him a notice that his lease will not be renewed.. and that if the smoking and unauthorized person does not stop you will seek emediate action for eviction action cause of lease violations.

Tenant 2. photo's of carpet damage.. and take more action in inspecting the buliding, grounds, listen and look for signs of pets, and pet POOP.. and give the tenant the option to leave/ or pet leaves.. 

For new tenants, be firm and assertive during the showing. Don't smile or be friendly. Tenants will know you mean business from the start, and those who plan to break the rules will simply move along to a friendly landlord. I made the mistake of being friendly and accommodating for my first tenants. They feel you out during the first few days, and if you give an inch they will take a mile. DON'T GIVE ON ANYTHING! On the 5th of the month, put that quit or pay notice on the door, open so everyone can read it! DO NOT accept partial payments. ENFORCE the late fee. If they bring a pet, tell them the pet needs to be gone the next day or you will call animal control for a stray pet on the property. The first time you serve notice to vacate, DO NOT change your mind for any reason!

Make sure you have all tenants on M2M leases where ever allowed and you are then in control of your own property. Additionally landlords must be responsible regarding the management of their properties and do quarterly inspections.

If you are not doing regular inspections and staying on top of your tenants and the condition of your properties you have no grounds to complain.

Tenants can never be trusted to be responsible. Leave your tenants alone to do as they please with your property and you deserve what ever they do to it.

1.  You should definitely require 2 forms of "proof of domicile elsewhere"  acceptable forms of proof would be utility bill, lease agreement, rental receipts, photo id.  This should be in the form of a notice to perform conditions/covenant or quit.  If they do not provide you with that within the time frame then you could give one more and then move to evict.  Depending on what your lease states.  (you could possibly have to give 1 more notice that way you are showing the court you tried to get the resident to comply) As for the smoke smell this would be very hard to prove.  Because in front of a judge this person is most likely going to say that they a. do not smoke in the house so the smell just could not be coming from them or b. they just do not smoke and had to of been coming from another tenant.  I would make sure if you do send them any notices about this type of thing I would get supporting letters from the surrounding tenants that way it does not look like you are just targeting this resident.  When you serve any notices you include the tenants name and also "and all others" this is what my attorney has done to make sure we cover all people living there. 

2. I would definitely serve this tenant with the notice to perform conditions/covenant or quit for having an unauthorized guest.   I agree you should be performing quarterly inspections of the unit that way you are able to stay on top of these kinds of things.  Take lots of pictures anytime you are in the unit for any inspection.  I also do annual inspections and document the units condition and take pictures as needed.  I would just make sure that the moment you see any breach of your lease agreement you give them a notice right away so that they know you are very serious.  Hope this helps!!!! Good luck! 

Do you have an illegal drug clause? Violate them for that too.

Thank you so much to everyone who answered my questions. We are slowly learning.

@Funyon Funyon I would give the first tenant notice to vacate. In most cases, they will leave. If he doesn't want to leave, hire your other tenants to spy on him. When they smell pot, have them call the cops and report illegal drug use. Then have them call you so you can meet the police on the property. This might put enough fear in him that he will leave.

As for the dog issue, it's generally bad tenants that do this sort of thing. Keep your property nice, screen your applicants, tighten up your lease, and enforce your lease. Run a loose ship and you'll continue to have problems.

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