Evicting a tenant who hasn't violated the lease

22 Replies

Thanks in advance for any advice.  There isn't enough room to go through all of the issues here, but I'm looking for advice on how to get rid of a tenant who has not violated her lease.  She has lived in one of our units for only a month and a half.  During that time I estimate that I've received in excess of 300 text messages from her and calls multiple times a day (and yes I realize that some of these are management issues that I've allowed by not having other systems in place).  I've gotten texts as late as 11 pm and as early as 5 am.  When we fix any maintenance/tenant issues she has the conversation changes to other issues she has and how she and I communicate.  She has been very difficult to work with and I feel like I'm talking to a different person depending on the day.  Multiple times I've mentioned to her if she is not happy with us that we would be happy to let her out of her lease.  This includes the first day she moved in when she blew up on me.  She then claims that she doesn't want to leave, but two minutes later is bringing up "issues" again like she won't look under the kitchen sink because it's "scary".  It's drama all the time with her and nothing is easy.  When I try to keep it professional and just about the issues she is having, I'm accused of not being sensitive to her tenant needs or understanding.  I feel like I'm either talking to a crazy ex girlfriend or my 8 & 9 year old daughters in the middle of a meltdown.  A few key points.

-  As mentioned, we have offered to let her out multiple times

-  I'd like to send her a formal letter offering again to let her out if she is unhappy.  I'm documenting as much as I can.

 - I am changing the ways I will let my tenants communicate with me so hopefully that helps things in the future.

I don't know what my options are, but I have no desire to keep working with her.  Thanks for reading.

Sorry to hear about your troubles obviously it is more of a mental health issue going on. this is why many leases call for the tenant to be responsible for the first $100 or so in damages In this case I do not think that would help stop responding to the text and explain that you must communicate through written means Hopefully she will move or slow down the barrage of requests

If she is that bothersome, how much are you willing to pay to get her out? Whatever the amount you summed up. That's how much you offer her to let her move out. There is nothing you can take to court to get her out, so cash for keys is a good alternative. Hopefully someone can chime in with a better option. 

Options, Stick to what you can do, document, everything, all photos' of repairs, her texts,, 

give her notice of non-renewal that you will not be renewing her lease when it's up that you will give her option of mutual lease termination with 2 week notice.

Other that that unless she violates lease, bothers someone other than yourself, your kinda stuck until her lease expires. 

If she starts calling police,, report her to social services for well check,, she might be off meds.. personally I bet this happens sooner than later..

If  you need to you might be well advised to have someone go with you if you go inside for any work.. so she can't make claims of xxxx against you. ya never know.

Phone calls.. that's what voice mail is for..

If she had that big of emergency after hours, she can call cops, fire dept, EMS, 

You can always "take your sail out of her wind." Don't reply to every text and email.  Reply, or better yet, have a vendor reply to legitimate repair requests at scheduled times and during business hours only.  Document everything. Worst case, create a google voice business number, give it to her, then block her from your regular number.  Ditto @Deanna McCormick - in a true emergency, she needs to call the professionals.          

I'm assuming you have a newer smartphone, and there's a way to block someone through those. I would get an online issue reporting system up as soon as possible, then inform her of the new method. Then block her - either outside business hours or completely. As long as you're consistent in that all tenant communications go through the online form from now on, you should be covered there. 

If she's this much of a problem for you, she's likely causing issues for others which brings to mind two things. You might want to dig through your screening documents and re-run a public records search on her. She may have open warrants, which could violate a crime clause in a lease. Finally, if she's in a multi, she might be violating a 'quiet enjoyment' clause for your other tenants. Neither of these is a strong 'out' but they're possibilities to explore. Until/unless she violates the lease you can't take active measures to get rid of her, but you can at least mitigate the worst impacts for yourself. 

Thanks @Steven Picker .  

@Brian Adzadi ...my partner and I have briefly discussed cash for keys, but it's becoming more of a reality now.  Thanks.

@Deanna McCormick ...appreciate the good info.  I like the option of sending her a non renewal now so she knows that she won't be with us longer than her current lease.  She had said she wants to stay "long term" so maybe when she realizes that isn't going to happen she will leave.  My wife said the same thing about somebody going with me so I'm going to make sure and do that moving forward.  

@Deborah Burian ...thanks Deborah.  I've started to do that more recently with regards to not being so available.  I agree to your point about the vendors....although my electrician has already said that he will not go there alone anymore as well.

@Shawn Q. ...thanks for the ideas Shawn.  It is a multi-unit building.  She has made complaints about other tenants and even escalated a situation with a non authorized tenant who was living in the the unit next to hers and we didn't know about it.  We got that person out and I was happy to do it, but have since realized that she was probably the one causing most of the issues.  We screened her two months ago before she moved in and the only record she has is a DUI.  

I appreciate all the help.

Wow, great thread. I haven't encountered this quite so severely first-hand yet, but I'm wondering if it is possible/legal to provide a tenant with your email address only? Is it required that they have your phone number? If memory serves they do need to have your address, or does that vary from state to state? 

Month to month leases.  

Sounds like this tenant is seeking attention; sort of like a dog that wants treats and barks and barks until the treat is delivered - congratulations, the dog has been trained to bark even more.

What I'm getting at is the messaging to you has been the tenant seeking attention, and you supplied it; now the tenant is very aware of the attention getting device, and how it works. Sometimes ignoring is the only solution; initially that is even more of a nuisance (dog barks even more because the expected treat hasn't come). Does this tenant have friends / emergency contacts that you might have collected with your application or leasing documents? If not, try to get that and then talk to those other people who know this person; they might say the tenant is supposed to be on medication and may have stopped, or they might dread hearing about the nuisance.

But maybe you need to be blunt first - tell the tenant that the messaging is excessive and it is now a nuisance bordering on harassment, and it must stop. Request that the tenant provide you with the list of "move in issues" that were present at move in; you review each one and either repair it or tell tenant you won't blame them for it so no security deposit deductions will be taken for that item. The tenant has to learn to live with some things because nothing is perfect. But you have to inform the tenant that things have become intolerable, and that if the tenant cannot tolerate the rental unit and you can't solve the issues, then moving elsewhere is necessary.

Hey, nobody is perfect and tenants certainly won't be perfect - but you need to train this one differently it seems.

Did you do tenant screening and did you contact the previous landlord?  I know that when there is a problem tenant and the previous landlord is trying to get them out, they will not always tell you the truth, but at least you may detect an air of urgency or alarm in their voice.  This is most certainly a mental health issue.  If she contacted you over 300 times in a few days that is abuse. I would send a letter telling her that she must stop or her lease will be revoked.  Also contact a mental health agency and ask them for advice.  Everyone needs a place to live.  If she is paying the rent, she must be working or have a source of income.  If the abusive contact continues, I would have the police get involved to see what can be done to help her.  Good luck.  I have only had one tenant like that.  She turned the bathtub on in a 3rd floor apt and locked the door.  The tub ran for many hours before I was notified.  It ruined 3 floors ceilings and walls.  She was taken to 72 hour holding at a local hospital and then put into long term supervised care.  Our damages were HUGE!

Actually I just sat down for coffee with an RE Attorney and mentioned having just read this thread on my way out the door. He mentioned a "No Cause Eviction". I'm guessing it varies from state to state, and the strength of your lease agreement, but in a lot of cases it sounds like you can give them notice to get the heck out, and as long as you give enough notice you can do so legally. Would talk to an attorney about it beforehand, but if she's really that bad and you don't want to endure the tenant any longer (been there) it may be worth biting the bullet to take steps and get her out. 

Suggest you mail a letter and stated that you appreciated her business contract. Her lease will end XX days (in CA it is 60 days from landlord and 30 days from her). Let her stay through Xmas.  If my tenant does that I block all text so I have a life. This also a time to contemplate getting a manager.

@Bob Woelfel communicate to her in writing that you are changing your process. Effective immediately, all service requests need to be made via e-mail or postal mail. Give her a form that she needs to fill out detailing the problem and times available for resolution. Make sure the form is time consuming for her! Let her know that all service requests will be evaluated on their merit and have a place on the form to turn down the request. Anything that has to do with visual condition should be turned down. She rented the property in that condition. Your responsibility is only to repair broken items, provided she didn't cause the damage.

Let her know the cell phone and text is only for emergencies related to temperature, water or fire. Temperature is only for emergencies, like it is 100 degrees outside and the AC won't turn on. Water is for leaks, either the roof or plumbing. Fire is obvious. Any other problem needs a form completed.

Let her know your process change is a direct result of her excessive and unreasonable maintenance requests. Tell her the e-mail form will be responded to in writing within 48 hours. If you reject the request, refuse to talk to her about it.

The problem is you are too nice. Evicting her will not fix that problem. You need to establish boundaries or this will happen again and again.

Tenants like this make you stronger. Use it as a learning opportunity.

You appear to be way too emotionally entrenched in your business. You need to hit the ignore button.

Read her texts then ignore them for a week. Do not answer your phone, let all calls go to voice mail.

She will escalate till she reaches the point of explosion, try to push her mentally over the edge. Crazy can be fun to watch provided you deal with actual emergency repairs. You are stuck with her for now so you might as well get inside her head and see where you can lead her. Instead of stressing over her have fun with crazy. Wind her up till she breaks down.

@Bob Woelfel I am not sure how it is in your state, but it is very hard to evict someone in Connecticut for anything other than non payment of rent. Can you do it? Sure, but it will cost you a lot of time and money. 

Michael Noto, Real Estate Agent in CT (#RES.0799665)
860-384-7570

You appear to be way too emotionally entrenched in your business. You need to hit the ignore button.

Read her texts then ignore them for a week. Do not answer your phone, let all calls go to voice mail.

She will escalate till she reaches the point of explosion, try to push her mentally over the edge. Crazy can be fun to watch provided you deal with actual emergency repairs. You are stuck with her for now so you might as well get inside her head and see where you can lead her. Instead of stressing over her have fun with crazy. Wind her up till she breaks down.

Hahah!

That's what you do to some of us.

"That's what you do to some of us."

My point exactly, if you can't have a little fun why bother.

This business is often stressful, tenants can be a major pain in the butt.

When your stuck with a nut job let lose the squirrels.

Think of crazy tenants like a kitten......and the landlord has the laser pointer. Monitor their actions from a distance to make sure they do no damage. Otherwise have some fun and never let them cause you to lose sleep.

Really appreciate all the support, ideas and information.  Very helpful and I'm thankful for it.  As many of you pointed out, I need to change some of our processes with regards to communication and requests.  I'm not a softie as we stick to our lease, charge late fees and try to do things by the book.  With that said I do try to be attentive to tenants needs and probably haven't made the complete switch to running it like a business just yet.  It has worked well enough before with all of my normal tenants, but as we continue to grow in units I must grow as well.  I've started to realize slowly since she moved in that I was going to need to do something, but now is clearly the time.  We've done a decent job screening, but she's help point out some blind spots in our business.  Thankfully, she is the exception and not the rule in our current tenant base.  We will grow and be better because of her and I've already started to enjoy the process of removing myself from the situation.  I don't think she is "burn down the building" crazy, but I might be getting a lot of "my heat isn't working properly" requests whether they are valid or not.  I have a feeling she's going to enjoy trying to keep me engaged.  Could get more interesting before it gets better.  Thanks everyone!

I agree with the comments from Joe that cell phone and text is only for emergencies...and with this woman you MUST be specific as to what are emergencies (because to her EVERYTHING is an emergency).  Fire, flood, blood is an emergency.

Every other repair request needs to be submitted by form and snail mail.    Find, make, print out a copy of a repair request form, provide her with copies of such.  Make it long and requiring much detail and, has been suggested, state on it that all service requests will be evaluated on their merit and MAY be addressed as time permits.  Make certain to include a statement that not all service requests may be responded to.

While it is tempting to totally block her there may be a time where she contacts you with a legitimate emergency issue.

Gail

Have you ever just tried to set her straight? Do you have a policy of how non-emergency repair requests are handled? I would implement both in this case. My very first tenant signed a 1 year lease. A couple months in I wanted to kick him out for various reasons. I was stuck with him, so instead I was forced to train him. Turned out a little training went a very long way and after 2 years I was sorry to see him go!!! Today I only do month to month so I can get rid of a hard case (and so I can evict faster), but that first experience taught me to communicate and work with tenants too because sometimes it just takes some understanding. One of the best tools in my kit is to remember we are all human.

Haha @Merritt Steinbach .  I'm not laughing at anything you said, just thinking back to all the times I tried to communicate with her.  Have you ever tried to communicate with an irrational person?  Last time I was there a few days ago she was crying hysterically in front of myself and my two electricians who were upgrading her electrical panel.  When I tried to "set her straight" by explaining that my interactions with her are more than all of my other tenants combined, she proceeded to change the subject and blame me for something else.  She later texted me and said I owed her "like 10 apologies".   My wife doesn't want me to go to her unit alone anymore for fear of what she might say or do.  

If you have a lease, you can't really just get her to move.  However, you can make it harder for her to have an impact on you.  Please send her a letter indicating that communication needs to be in writing or email.(This way you can forward to your service personnel and there is a record for both of you that she requested something.)   Emergencies will be dealt with as quickly as possible, all other items will be responded to during business hours.  

Write in the professional note that repeated requests just delay the repair request. 

If you are sending out a repair person - respond via email with the name o the company, etc. 

Also include in the letter that she needs to be courteous to your repair people and to you at all times. If there is any yelling, the repair person is instructed to leave the premises immediately.   (Also, if she does it to you, just drive away) It is amazing how well this works)  She will then call you...but alas, she needs to email now...

Never Ever get into a yelling argument with the tenant.  Walk away! and do it via email, waiting 24 hours for each response. 

Believe it or not, we actually offered someone $100 off their rent for each month they were courteous to us, if she would agree to be courteous.  She did not agree.  :)  She would rather pay the higher rent, than attempt to be nice. Amazing.

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