Headaches with tenant moving out

5 Replies

Hi BP, just purchased my first duplex (stacked) in St. Louis (South City), inheriting one tenant who is on her way out that I have a couple of questions about. There is no lease in place and she is in the process of moving 4 hours away. She verbally said she'd be out by March 1st. During our rehab of the 1st floor unit we decided it would be best to replace the plumbing stack. Luckily my father in law is a plumber so it's not terrible news. However, this would require us making her bathroom unusable as well. I noticed the tenant upstairs didn't have her boiler on and it's 25 degrees out. I called her, she said we could enter though she wasnt home, and we discovered she had all 4 stove open flames turned on high and she was circulating that heat using a fan! Also had a window cracked and a couple of space heaters going. Couldn't believe it. Anyway, I left her a message saying if she allowed us to demo her bathroom we wouldn't charge rent from then on out. She hasn't been responding. My questions are... 

1. With no lease in place can I demo her bathroom without her permission? She doesn't appear to be "living" there as she's in the process of moving, but still has some stuff there. 

2. How would you go about handling her exit in general with proper notices, delivery confirmation from post office on letter being delivered, etc?


Does she have any sleeping stuff there? with a 4 hour drive she may be counting on staying when she comes to get the rest of the stuff. Since you cant make her bathroom completely unusable for any length of time without her agreement unless it is an "emergency" I would only do repairs there giving her legal notice per your state saying bathroom unusable 2-4 pm on tuesday for example. If it is a gut job best bet is to give her more options to see if you can get a response by x date she gets x dollars back if I hear from you in the next 24 hours. What will you do with her stuff, where can she stay when she comes for it? Make it easy for her to say yes to you. You cant really gut the bath in your situation with no downstairs tenant suffering from the plumbing being bad.

@Jake Deiters - had a similar situation. Consult with your attorney on the local laws. In my situation, my attorney advised me to get the tenant under lease 1st, just do month-to-month. Once under lease it is a Lot easier (legally) and less expensive to rid the tenant. 

I would be very hesitant to remove livability in a place that I wasn't SURE they were gone. Take appropriate steps, HOUND her, chat up a lawyer, and if you do end up doing anything, get her approval saved in email.

I know you feel anxious to move forward, but careful not to misstep and cause more trouble than you started with.

for communications everything should be in email. posting notices on the door and certified mail likely won't work since it doesn't seem like she is there to check.

good luck, you're gonna do great. dont' get bogged down by these small hiccups, the real mayhem hasn't even started yet!! ;) ;)

sounds like a major fire hazard if I'm reading that correctly

Have you try cash for keys? Offer her x amount if she moves by y time and z date. Say $500 if move out in 5 days, $250 if move out by end of month, etc. You can get her under a m-to-m lease like others suggested and then follow the terms of the lease to do what you need to do. Get up to speed & date on your state’s tenant/landlord laws. Good luck!

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