Evicting Tenant with Medical issues - Feel like a grinch

35 Replies

I am having to evict a tenant for the first time, and wanted to get some perspective / opinions.  

Tenant had an ongoing trend of late payments, etc., which I let slide for the first few months.  

October check bounced, (They sent from closed account!) They deposited cash in middle of November

November check bounced (from same closed account)

December check received, but from same closed account, so positive this will bounce.

At this point, I had enough, and filed for 3 days to vacate notice, and recently, an eviction has been filed.

I have a hearing date set, which I plan to go through with.  All correspondence from me has been via email, and cordial but factual.

Here's where I feel like a grinch.  Through correspondence, he has been telling me that his wife is going through chemotherapy, and that the notice to vacate / eviction notice, and emails have had an emotional toll, and that he will file a lawsuit against me for emotional damage, etc.  I am still proceeding with the eviction, as I've had enough of the runarounds.  I do sincerely hope his wife will get better (I hope someone would not lie about something like that).

QUESTION: Am I in the wrong to proceed with eviction?  I'm a bit conflicted from a moral perspective, but determined to proceed with the eviction from a business/factual perspective....unless you can see some negative result, specifically as it relates to the medical condition.

Any perspective or experience would be greatly appreciated.  

The feeling will pass after he has laid up in your house for free until the eviction date arrives.

No you are not wrong to evict.

@Tomo Iikubo  Undoubtedly people will be conflicted when it comes to a situation like this. Probably should not have continued to accept personal checks and only accept a cashier's check or money order (or of course cash which personally I don't like without the ability to track). Your correspondence should be as you said factual, though some landlords are very friendly with tenant, my opinion was always that this is a business transaction. 

The tenant is not my friend, we are two parties in a contract. The landlord provides a safe secure place to stay and the tenant pays for said place. 

If they cannot pay, they have to vacate the property, again it is nothing personal it is a simple business transaction. 

As a final note, judges are typically slow to evict during the holiday season I have found...

@Tomo Iikubo you are definitely in a tough spot and I feel for you particularly at this time of year. However you have worked with this tenant quite a bit already. It sounds like they are now 3 months behind with the checks written on a closed account. This is actually a felony in my state! As hard as it seems, it time to evict. You might try "cash for keys" to get them out to help them find another rental.

Thank you all for the great perspective and feedback so far.

@Steve Osowicz Good to know about slow evictions are typical during the holidays

@Jim Shepard I have made them aware that knowingly writing checks from a closed account is a criminal offense.  

Thank you again!

He gave you bad checks from a closed account and clearly cannot afford the apt anymore.You must do what is necessary to protect your investment.If he wanted your sympathy he should have been straight with you in the first place.

Through correspondence, he has been telling me that his wife is going through chemotherapy, and that the notice to vacate / eviction notice, and emails have had an emotional toll, and that he will file a lawsuit against me for emotional damage, etc.

You know what would reduce the emotional toll?? PAYING THE RENT!

There is absolutely no good time to evict a tenant! When have you ever heard from a tenant, 'ohh you're serving me a notice to vacate... ohh for sure that's awesome this is a good time for me.. I'm just going to get my stuff and leave"

The only issue I have is that you have waited this long. First time the cheque bounced I would be serving them a notice.

Life circumstances are not going well for tenants but does that mean that it should affect your pocket book. You have done the right thing at this point, cut it loose and move on. 

You are running a business not a charity. Occasionally, we all fall for the son story but rarely very rarely do they ever get it together 

I often think, what if the tables were turned. How do you think your tenant would react if your wife was going through chemo and you contacted him and ask him to pay double rent?

You could've required it be paid by cashier's check/money order going fwd after the first bounced check, at least that way you'd of know it's probably good.

This business is tough.  There is no question about that.  I always believe that before you start as a landlord, you need to know yourself and your own personal thresholds.  It helps decide if a property manager is best for you or if you can self manage.  Honesty with yourself is very important.

Stories like this are why I'm glad I have a property manager!  :-P

@Tomo Iikubo ,

I live by 1 quote, in my personal and professional life.. "There's always enough time and money for what's important to you."   This applies to anyone and everyone, regardless of their income or ability.. if it's important, it happens!    They chose not to pay you rent,  and not paying rent has consequences.   Do you think their cell phone bills got paid?  Yup!  Obviously internet got paid-- because those things are a priority to them.     If they were smart, they'd put rent first.   The fact they are trying to make the landlord feel bad, would personally make me hold stronger in that they need to learn this lesson in eviction.       If they were upfront, that'd be 100% different,  but they weren't, and choices have consequences.  

While it sucks it's the holidays, there's never a good time.    If you still want to be nice, you could offer to do a small ($100) cash for keys, and offer to drop the eviction if they move out and clean up the place and move out within say 5 days.    Just an idea, good luck! 

Ps. I definitely agree with @Ihe O. , go see some damage to your place,  see stuff they didn't give a crap about that will now cost you a lot of money.. you won't feel bad, guarantee. 

@Tomo Iikubo ,

Sorry to hear you are going through this.

DISCLAIMER: Not legal advice and you should contact a lawyer who specializes in your state. My suggestions are the ramblings of some dolt on the internet.

The only correspondence you should be having going forward is the legal notices and eviction notices. Don't send "Lets see what we can do" emails, do not send "I want to work with you" emails, do not send "Where is the December rent" emails. Simply send the legally required documents. You sending emails is already too much regardless if they are factual or cordial or anything else. 

No judge is going to say posting your notices is too much, however a judge may agree that 5 emails over 2 days is excessive (not sure how much back and forth you two have). So stay out of the grey area and what are you really going to say in email anyway? 

I wish you the best in your situation

Sorry you are going through this.  Once you do this long enough, your way of thinking changes.  It's good have compassion for others and what they are going through.  It is also good to take care of yourself and your business.  I try to take all emotion out of the process.  I explain what the consequences are and how they can avoid them.  I then move as quickly as possible and incur any legal fees necessary to expedite the process of getting my unit back.  Dragging your feet and giving 2nd chances is normally more expensive than the lawyer.  It totally suck, but will make you a better investor going forward. 

Don't feel, even in the slightest, bad about what you are doing.  They have illegally, and on multiple occasions, been trying to pay you with a check that they know is not any good.

If his wife even has cancer...and I would doubt it...obviously, they are still obligated to pay their bills.  It's not a difficult concept to understand, but there are just way too many people running around with the "woe is me", entitled attitude.

Earlier this year, I had a tenant whose adult daughter (living there) had lost her job.  Against my better judgment, I agreed to be paid in two installments for August.  Her adult son passed away (he did) one day before the second installment was due.  We didn't know that and sent her a reminder, when it was a day late.  She apologized, explained what happened, and that she would have it in the bank the next day.  Then it was the day after that.  We didn't even contact her on the third day.  We just filed a 5 Day Pay or Quit Notice.  Did I feel bad for her?  In general, sure.  But if she hadn't been late as hell to begin with, I would have had the luxury of choosing to give her an extra few days to get her bearings.  She did make the deposit to bring her rent up to date, the day after she received the notice.

Of course, you wouldn't really want to say this, but I would have loved to reply back, "Yes, I understand it is upsetting and stressful to not have enough money to pay your basic bills.  Just like it is upsetting and stressful for me when you haven't paid your rent and give me checks that bounce."

I had a tenant onceWho said her mother died twice in the two-year period! LOL do the eviction!!!!

@Tomo Iikubo it is normal to feel bad for their situation, but if there is no sign it will change, you have no choice. You gave them three months to work this out, after months of late payments. 

My first eviction was a single lady with depression. She started paying late, then didn't have rent one month. Her depression then landed her in the hospital and she lost her job. She had no way to get caught up on rent. We felt bad for her, but filed for eviction. She showed up in court to contest the eviction and the judge asked why she hadn't paid rent, she said I don't have money. She told him that she needed to pay car insurance. He asked her why she would pay car insurance over rent, because a roof over your head is more important. Ultimately he had compassion on her situation and gave her two more weeks to move. 

As long as you have followed the law, the judge isn't going to penalize you for evicting them. The judge may give them a little extra time, given their situation. If the judge does that, I wouldn't throw up a stink about it. Any of us can fall on hard luck. Cancer is horrible. I would rather be out rent than stricken with Cancer, so count your blessings.

At the risk of being the real grinch in this situation, have you considered that he might be lying about his wife's illness?  Tenants do some things that just make me shake my head sometimes.

That being said, you are not the one who should be taking the financial responsibility for her issues.  You can be compassionate and sympathetic while still holding them responsible for their own issues.

Go through with the eviction, sooner rather than later.

No place for emotions in business decisions. There are 12 months in the year and they are all the same in business. A landlord cannot control when a tenant chooses to get evicted. 

Here is the rub.....he will file a lawsuit against me for emotional damage.

I guess money will lessen his emotional damage.

I served a tenant that had cancer. SOB died before I could complete the eviction. Family ended up paying his past rent.   

Hope his wife gets better. Writing a check from a closed account is straight up fraud. 

Good luck! 

Updated over 1 year ago

Knowlingly writing a check from a closed account is a felony in the 2nd degree(over $500) 2 year prison penalty minimum in Ohio.

All, thank you for your comments, very insightful and helpful.

I have found a very large error on my side with regards to the 3 days to vacate notice.

The form is completely filled out, EXCEPT for the "Reason for eviction".  Kicking myself, but its a fact.

I feel like if I continue to civil court, this will be the first thing that a judge would question. 

Everything else, including the eviction notice has been filled out correctly and filed.

QUESTION: Anyone have any experience?  I know individual results vary, just wanted to get some perspective from those who have taken an eviction case to court.

Thank you for your continued support

Without having the reason to evict the tenant will argue they have no ability to correct, although the reason is obvious. Unless others can chime in with Ohio state specific advice I would say you need to start over. 

Contact the court and cancel the first application. Time is money when tenants stop paying.

File a new 3 day notice tomorrow.

One more thing.  Explain how you do this for a living and you have a lot of experience at this.  Do some checking and if he has employment, explain how you will proceed through the eviction process, be awarded a judgment, and then garnish his wages.  A few years ago I garnished the wages of a pre-school teacher.  Sounds terrible right.  She applied for my unit and got approved.  She had not intentions of moving in.  She allowed her bi-polar daughter with 3 kids to move in.  I garnished her wages and collected a ridiculously low amount from her employer every 2 weeks.  It was the smallest check that i received each month that gave me the most pleasure!  I have compassion for those who deserve and need it.  I want my slice of justice for those who purposely take advantage of the system.

I explained to her what i was going to do and why.  I lied to her and told her it wasn't personal.  I gave her numerous opportunities to rectify the situation prior to the eviction and garnishment.  1 year later she referred a friend of hers to me to fine her a rental.  I respectfully declined.

Use it as a learning experience, because this is what it is.  I used to go grab a lunch and sit outside of my evictions to watch the house.  The only thing that accomplished was guaranteeing i was not going to enjoy my lunch.  Put it on auto-pilot and hand it to the lawyer.  This is all part of the cool gig you are choosing as a career.  Buy more properties and dilute your exposure to this inevitable situation. 

Good luck and don't spend too much time on what you can't control. Direct your lawyer to move as quickly as possible to getting him out of your unit.  Then decide whether it is worth it to attempt to recover your money.  Best of luck. 

Don't waste 1 night of sleep about it.  This is a business.  You MUST think of it, and treat it like a business.  Once you start sympathizing and relating, next you're taking in strays.

You have a lease because that is your roadmap to the business relationship.  It tells you, and them exactly what will happen if they pay late.  So, don't feel bad in pursuing that road map.

You can still be sypathetic to their situation as a human, and convey your sympathies, but it doesn't have to affect your course of action.  I wouldn't engage in any discussion that seems litigious.  Just stick to the facts, and keep your notices brief and compliant.

Best of luck to you.

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