Inherited Section 8 Tenant Headache

10 Replies

In August I went under contract for a 6 unit (2 building) property. Three units receive section 8 assistance. One of those tenants appeared to be trouble from the start. The seller advised me of issues she had been having with the tenant including having more pets than allowed which resulted in a flea infestation of the entire building. Her unit was very cluttered, but not horrible, when I saw it during the initial walk through and inspection that followed. At the end of September I was notified that this tenant would be moving and that the unit would be vacant. Vacancy was not on the contract (lesson 1), but I was relieved to know I wouldn't have to deal with the headache.

Fast forward to November 14th when I went to the property for the final walk through prior to the 11/15 closing. When I arrived the seller advised me that the tenant never left and they were refusing to allow us entry during the final review because the seller did not give her 24h notice. This was obviously a bit concerning especially because their wall furnace was part of the PINA. I should have delayed closing until I could get in the unit, but the seller was leaving the country in 5 days and would not return for a couple months...Lesson 2.

11/17 I met with Belmont to go over paperwork for 3 tenants at the property who receive assistance. During the meeting they gave me an inspection notice (dated 11/15) for this particular unit which included two tenant items: 'Clutter in unit' and 'Clean and Sanitize' which I understand are not handed out lightly. I advised the case worker that I would not be renewing their month-to-month lease. I only had to decide whether or not I wanted to renew the lease for January or force the tenant to move during the holidays. Though I felt like a bit of a Grinch I decided to tear the band-aid off and sent a non-renewal letter via certified mail on Monday the 20th advising I would not renew after December.

She received the letter on the 21st which is the same day Belmont called to report her furnace was not functioning properly. I called and spoke to the tenant to get detail on the furnace and advised I would be by the property that afternoon to take a look. The tenant was not home when my handyman and I entered the apartment. The unit was filthy! It appears the tenant is a hoarder, if not she is well on her way to becoming one. Since then the tenant will not return my calls or the calls from Belmont who is trying to help her with a moving voucher.

I have not received the tenant portion of the rent for December ($199) and mailed her a pay or vacate on 12/7 via certified mail with signature required. USPS was unable to deliver the parcel and she has not picked it up from the post office. I've since learned that New York requires I properly serve a pay or quit so I will need to serve another before I can begin the eviction process.

I can't justify hiring an attorney for the $199 late rent. My hope is that she vacates by the end of the month which I seems unlikely. If she vacates I'll write-off the $199 as a small price to pay to be out of the situation. If she does not vacate she will owe $740 on 1/1 due to Sec 8 not paying after a non-renewal and a couple late fees. At that point I plan on attaining an attorney and filing a holdover eviction along with the overdue rent.

This 6 unit is only my second rental property. I've never had to deal with section 8, hoarders, or evictions in the past. Any feedback or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

@Justin K. I am sorry you are going through this.  That being said, hire an attorney.  You are not hiring for the $199.00 in late rent.  You are hiring an attorney now to prevent a long-term hold-over and the loss of time and $ that would mean.  Good luck!!  

I feel your pain, I had to do an eviction before. I know you think the $199 is not justifiable for hiring an attorney. However, it is not just $199, it's the potential trouble of having her stay in the unit and creating more issues for you-- what's the cost estimate for that. Also, hoarding is a mental issue so I don't see her being able to just leave because of her psychological attachment to her stuff. Get a good eviction lawyer right away, they are worth it. Good luck!

Milwaukee has a free landlord class - Maybe Buffalo does too.

If your true intent is to have this tenant out of your property January 1 due to non-renewal,  then do not serve her with a summary proceeding for nonpayment. 

If you serve her for nonpayment all she has to do is pay and she will have satisfied the courts and can stay.

Stick with non-renewal and have her Served with holdover jan 2 (holiday). It’s a good thing your service was defective :)

Originally posted by @Chela O'Connor :

@Justin K. I am sorry you are going through this.  That being said, hire an attorney.  You are not hiring for the $199.00 in late rent.  You are hiring an attorney now to prevent a long-term hold-over and the loss of time and $ that would mean.  Good luck!!  

I 100% agree with Chela.  Lawyer up now.  She will not leave.  If she truly is a hoarder, she is emotionally unable to  separate from her junk.  She will not be able to pay for storage, or bear to part with anything.

This is going to get messy.  Do anything you can to shorten your exposure. 

My church just finished moving a frail elderly widow who had to sell her house, and move into a single wide mobile home, due to financial hardship.  While not a hoarder per se, she could not emotionally separate from her dead mother's and dead husband's belongings.  We had to pack and move her husband's woodworking tools -- and he had been dead for a decade.   I moved a lawn-mower to a mobile home without any lawn.  We had a team working frantically, while the widow just walked around rubbing her hands and crying -- totally overwhelmed.    Luckily, I was working next to the pastor's wife -- so she kept me from swearing too loudly!

So I contacted an attorney to get the ball rolling and was turned away after sending my documents. My non-renewal notice did not have a date on the document and I sent it via certified mail instead of a service company. So the tenant can say they never got it. If that wasn't enough, two days after closing Belmont (Sec 8) notified me of an issue with the stove (tenant doesn't use) and a drain in the bathroom. They could not provide me detail on the issues, but these were required to be fixed by Dec 15th. Since I was no renewing past December they said it wouldn't be an issue if I waited to fix after the unit was vacated. The attorney says the tenant could use this to try and say I was retaliating against her by not renewing the lease.

All this is speculative since the tenant will not return any of my calls...Which leads me to my next question. How can I provide a tenant with 24h notice to enter to look into non-emergency maintenance items if they will not answer or return phone calls?

@Denice S. Do you know where I can find a standard non-renewal letter I could use the second time around? Also, do you happen to have an eviction attorney in WNY that you would recommend? 

I've felt your pain. These details translate into dollars. You should be able to file for eviction and serve with a witness yourself. Sit in on a few court evictions if you get the chance. Certified mail service may not allow you past due rent and fees. Here's some old recommendations from 2010. You're lucky Buffalo, NY is landlord friendly.

Richard G Berger Esq. RgBergerLaw_at_yahoo.com, Eight52.8188 W, Eight64.4556 cell

interesting read; http://blog.nj.com/njv_barry_carter/2011/05/carter_newark_man_acts_as_his.html 

You don't need an attorney. Get the holdover sample notice from your Housing Court clerk and have a process server delivery/post. Go to your local court with Affadvit from server and tell them you need assistance starting holdover proceedings. They should have a landlord help section. Strongly suggest you handle yourself to understand the process. Once you do, use an attorney on future issues. Hopefully there are none. 

In California you contact owners by mail and post the letter on the front door. Take a photo. If it is gone take another photo.  Most section 8 are law abiding but I prefer to deal with regular tenants who have a job. Even today a verbal conversation is honored without the documentation.  I would think your strategy is get this un-cooperate tenant out using this as an example for others. I know there is money to be made being a slum lord is not on my list.

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