Tenants from HELL in Cleveland, OH

19 Replies

BPers, 

I just officially underwent my tenant from hell experience and must I say I am completely EXHAUSTED. I have ASKED MYSELF "is this business even for me"? I'm just wondering for all you landlords out there, how do you deal with the stress of tenant issues and drama filled tenants that want to call code on your home, file documents in court asking to stay after an eviction has been filed, and all that other rigga monroe??? 

I would rather be hands off if possible (maybe hiring just a maintenance person or two to service the properties). I've been in a situation where I have even been MACED in the face by a tenant. I am a calm professional and just have had some odd occurrences where i'm unsure at this point on weather I want to continue to work in these C class areas with the caliber of renters it brings. I have screened well and need to go back to the drawing board apparently. Also, let me just add, I am familiar with the community I work with. I am not an investor that just bought in an area "just because" the ROI is good. Although the area can be rough, I am not afraid of the area. THOUGHTSS?

Class A and class B rentals dont produce as much ROI as class C rentals . BUT you generally are dealing with a much better tenant pool . I have had a few not so great tenants . But when I explain to them that if I have to file an eviction on them , the chances of them renting in a nice neighborhood are done . They usually pay up or move out quickly .

I don’t know where class A gets anything except through appreciation, but in my hometown, B/B- was the sweet spot. Lots of permanent renters and students. Here, it’s C all day long. 

Some folks swear by A. I’d love to see those numbers on a rental, not a flip!

Well sorry th hear that. I think that a lot of us went through that also. Even if not pleasant i can reassure that it just makes you a better landlord. You just had a good lesson and as much as it sucks (I know as I've been there too) take advantage of it. Just remember that you are building a system, and there is mistakes or crack in it at first. once you know them you can fix them, then afterwards your system just gets better and better. to me the 90% of this business is in the tenant. so if you think you have done a good job i must tell you that you didn't. something went wrong or you missed something so the best thing to do is to review your screening process. sometime a bad tenant will slip through the crack but if you did your homework it shouldn't be too bad. and personally I'd rather have my house empty then having a bad tenant. I'm sure you'll agree. once done right you can be reassure that there is no stress and that it is smooth sailing. but you have to do your homework and do a good screening. good luck

Wow, mace?!?  Don't go to those buildings unless you have some muscle with you.  Bring two male workers with you at all times if you really need to go there in person. 

My close friend would buy apartment buildings in the toughest areas of Miami where the police don't like to go but they were at the right price.  One night someone called him and said a tenant was moving out and taking the appliances.  So he followed them !  I wouldn't.  But he found out they didn't take them.

Class C can be rough depending on the areas but as turnarounds near a lot of rooftops is the way to go if you want C. My reit clients prefer the class A smooth sailing and my entrepreneurs like the B and C.

@Matthew Paul Thanks for providing experienced comments. If I evict someone, what keeps them from renting again in a good neighborhood if they opt not to use me as a reference or are dishonest about being evicted?

In my state evictions are part of the court and public record .An easy search they come up as FTPR ( failure to pay rent )  And some quick searches on line will show peoples previous addresses . Mysmartmove is also good for background checks . 

What keeps them from renting again ?   A landlord that doesnt screen well . All a tenant has to do is look for a place that has been for rent for a while and find a landlord that is short sighted and desperate for a tenant 

Originally posted by @Gill Winslow :

BPers, 

I just officially underwent my tenant from hell experience and must I say I am completely EXHAUSTED. I have ASKED MYSELF "is this business even for me"? I'm just wondering for all you landlords out there, how do you deal with the stress of tenant issues and drama filled tenants that want to call code on your home, file documents in court asking to stay after an eviction has been filed, and all that other rigga monroe??? 

I would rather be hands off if possible (maybe hiring just a maintenance person or two to service the properties). I've been in a situation where I have even been MACED in the face by a tenant. I am a calm professional and just have had some odd occurrences where i'm unsure at this point on weather I want to continue to work in these C class areas with the caliber of renters it brings. I have screened well and need to go back to the drawing board apparently. Also, let me just add, I am familiar with the community I work with. I am not an investor that just bought in an area "just because" the ROI is good. Although the area can be rough, I am not afraid of the area. THOUGHTSS?

 lol, bro what in the world did you do to get yourself maced? I gotta hear that story. Details please. Don't forget to include pics.

Also for some tenant from hell therapy i've got several of my more interesting stories floating around the bigger pockets forums. Here is a link to a couple.

TENANTS FROM HELL #2 Tubs & Showers from hell. PICS INCLUDED!

TENANTS FROM HELL #1 Deplorable living conditions. PICS INCLUDED!

@Gill Winslow

Yes it is all worth it. Keep pushing man.  If it was easy.....everyone would do it.    A couple of thoughts and questions;

I don't want to know the address, but what zip code are these properties in?

Why are YOU dealing with all this and not a property manager? 

Were these tenants that you inherited or did you do the screening yourself?

What sort of lease do you have and what all is in it?

I own 5 units in Cleveland, from out of state and by far the most drama I have dealt with are the inherited tenants.

Cleveland has far more Landlord friendly laws than California where I live so if a tenant is being an "@$$hat" then you need to evaluate if you want them to be a tenant.

When I screen tenants in Cleveland and here in the Bay Area I have a process.....Yes I do have a property manager but I want to be the one who does the initial screening.   

Here goes...

I place the ads on Zillow, Facebook, HotPads, Trulia and Craigslist.

THE FIRST SENTENCE IN THE AD SAYS NO PETS AND NO SMOKERS OF ANY KIND.

When they call....I don't pick up....I want them to leave a message....If they are not confident enough to leave a message....I feel they are most likely not confident in themselves regarding renting the property.

I want to hear if they sound like "they have some sense". (Read into that what you want, but that's my story and I'm sticking to it). If I hear dogs barking in the background or if the husband is leaving a message but I hear the mother screaming at her kids while the message is being left I imagine how they will be as tenants and sometimes make a judgement call if I will even call back. Dog barking in the background and my ad says no pets. .....hmmmmm.  Speaking of pets,.It is AMAZING how many people will call you that have NOT read the ad. Trulia, Zillow and HotPads sends an email or a link to candidates phones based on the price range they put in. The link headline of the link they are sent literally only says 3/1 unit , The price per month and the contact phone number regarding the property. Yes you can click on the link and READ the ad but most people do not. Trulia is THE MOST NOTORIOUS in that as the property owner you can check the box that says NO PETS.....but when the ad is emailed to the potential tenant about 2/3 of them say "Pet Friendly". I'm not complaining, it is merely an observation.

Before calling the potential tenant back when they call.....although most simply text I will simply text them back and say the following......

"Hi, it's Brian, I understand you are inquiring about the 3/1 unit at 123 Main Street for $$$$ per month with a $$$$ deposit also due before move in, is that correct?"

They reply back confirming this and then I text the following

"When you read the ad, it states, No Smoking of any kind, No Vaping, No E-Cigarettes, No Weed and No Illegal Drugs. The ad also says No Pets of any kind. Also no prior evictions can be on the record of anyone that will be living at the property as well as no felonies. You may have also noticed that the ad says your gross verifiable monthly income per month must be at least 3 times  the monthly rent. I know it's a rather long ad, but were you able to read those parts of the ad as well?"

I will say that by doing things this way I end up "talking" to far less people because most did not read the ad and by texting this I am having them acknowledge they are OK with all of this. 

If all still goes well up to this point,I then text them

"What is your current living situation and what is your reason for moving?"  If it has anything to do with a negative experience about the current landlord it is not necassarily a dealbreaker by the way. When I get on the phone I can dig deeper. If they were renting from a landlord and the property was built in 1893 and/or they were living in a D or F Zip Code and  there were constant maintenance problems, I can understand that.    If they are coming from a place built in 1993 or it's in a C or B neighborhood and they say the landlord never wants to fix anything, the property manager ignores my calls and doesn't get back to me within a half hour after I call them, then I dig a little deeper....I had a situation like that and I asked him "what do your friends or co-workers say when you tell them about your current living situation". He said, "Well I don't tell my co-workers my business because I don't get along with them"....I RAN from him as a potential tenant because he had high maintenance written all over him.

It all starts with screening the tenants properly Gill.

Keep pushing.

Originally posted by @Brian Garlington :

@Gill Winslow

Yes it is all worth it. Keep pushing man.  If it was easy.....everyone would do it.    A couple of thoughts and questions;

I don't want to know the address, but what zip code are these properties in?

Why are YOU dealing with all this and not a property manager? 

Were these tenants that you inherited or did you do the screening yourself?

What sort of lease do you have and what all is in it?

I own 5 units in Cleveland, from out of state and by far the most drama I have dealt with are the inherited tenants.

Cleveland has far more Landlord friendly laws than California where I live so if a tenant is being an "@$$hat" then you need to evaluate if you want them to be a tenant.

When I screen tenants in Cleveland and here in the Bay Area I have a process.....Yes I do have a property manager but I want to be the one who does the initial screening.   

Here goes...

I place the ads on Zillow, Facebook, HotPads, Trulia and Craigslist.

THE FIRST SENTENCE IN THE AD SAYS NO PETS AND NO SMOKERS OF ANY KIND.

When they call....I don't pick up....I want them to leave a message....If they are not confident enough to leave a message....I feel they are most likely not confident in themselves regarding renting the property.

I want to hear if they sound like "they have some sense". (Read into that what you want, but that's my story and I'm sticking to it). If I hear dogs barking in the background or if the husband is leaving a message but I hear the mother screaming at her kids while the message is being left I imagine how they will be as tenants and sometimes make a judgement call if I will even call back. Dog barking in the background and my ad says no pets. .....hmmmmm.  Speaking of pets,.It is AMAZING how many people will call you that have NOT read the ad. Trulia, Zillow and HotPads sends an email or a link to candidates phones based on the price range they put in. The link headline of the link they are sent literally only says 3/1 unit , The price per month and the contact phone number regarding the property. Yes you can click on the link and READ the ad but most people do not. Trulia is THE MOST NOTORIOUS in that as the property owner you can check the box that says NO PETS.....but when the ad is emailed to the potential tenant about 2/3 of them say "Pet Friendly". I'm not complaining, it is merely an observation.

Before calling the potential tenant back when they call.....although most simply text I will simply text them back and say the following......

"Hi, it's Brian, I understand you are inquiring about the 3/1 unit at 123 Main Street for $$$$ per month with a $$$$ deposit also due before move in, is that correct?"

They reply back confirming this and then I text the following

"When you read the ad, it states, No Smoking of any kind, No Vaping, No E-Cigarettes, No Weed and No Illegal Drugs. The ad also says No Pets of any kind. Also no prior evictions can be on the record of anyone that will be living at the property as well as no felonies. You may have also noticed that the ad says your gross verifiable monthly income per month must be at least 3 times  the monthly rent. I know it's a rather long ad, but were you able to read those parts of the ad as well?"

I will say that by doing things this way I end up "talking" to far less people because most did not read the ad and by texting this I am having them acknowledge they are OK with all of this. 

If all still goes well up to this point,I then text them

"What is your current living situation and what is your reason for moving?"  If it has anything to do with a negative experience about the current landlord it is not necassarily a dealbreaker by the way. When I get on the phone I can dig deeper. If they were renting from a landlord and the property was built in 1893 and/or they were living in a D or F Zip Code and  there were constant maintenance problems, I can understand that.    If they are coming from a place built in 1993 or it's in a C or B neighborhood and they say the landlord never wants to fix anything, the property manager ignores my calls and doesn't get back to me within a half hour after I call them, then I dig a little deeper....I had a situation like that and I asked him "what do your friends or co-workers say when you tell them about your current living situation". He said, "Well I don't tell my co-workers my business because I don't get along with them"....I RAN from him as a potential tenant because he had high maintenance written all over him.

It all starts with screening the tenants properly Gill.

Keep pushing.

 Brian, thank you for this insight!!!! I love your screening techniques and I will work to improve mines. I've been managing propertys for 10 years and just recently began to experience tenant drama! The world  is changing.. tenants change.. you can go downtown to Cleveland housing court and they will damn near coach the tenant on what papers to file against you (for any reason, even if it is absurd). Seeming that you are out of state, you hired a PM for your properties is that right? Question: How is that working out for you and how did you decide on the property management company? Do you feel like you are charged an arm and a leg for the maintenance that goes on? I have thought about hiring a PM company as I do handle everything myself except for the maintenance. I am not a handyman, so I normally pick up a few handymen in my database and have them work on the project or what needs to be done. Where as someone would charge 50 dollars to change locks, I know a few gentlemen whos daily rate ( 6-7 hours worth of work) is 90 dollars (and they fix it all). How does this work for you when using the Property management company..worry that it will cut into my profits. But, if I really dont want to deal with tenants, this may be the best route. Dealing with tenants lately have been a time eater for me and there are only 24 hours in a day! I have other things to handle in life and need to free up some time! 

Originally posted by @James Wise :
Originally posted by @Gill Winslow:

BPers, 

I just officially underwent my tenant from hell experience and must I say I am completely EXHAUSTED. I have ASKED MYSELF "is this business even for me"? I'm just wondering for all you landlords out there, how do you deal with the stress of tenant issues and drama filled tenants that want to call code on your home, file documents in court asking to stay after an eviction has been filed, and all that other rigga monroe??? 

I would rather be hands off if possible (maybe hiring just a maintenance person or two to service the properties). I've been in a situation where I have even been MACED in the face by a tenant. I am a calm professional and just have had some odd occurrences where i'm unsure at this point on weather I want to continue to work in these C class areas with the caliber of renters it brings. I have screened well and need to go back to the drawing board apparently. Also, let me just add, I am familiar with the community I work with. I am not an investor that just bought in an area "just because" the ROI is good. Although the area can be rough, I am not afraid of the area. THOUGHTSS?

 lol, bro what in the world did you do to get yourself maced? I gotta hear that story. Details please. Don't forget to include pics.

Also for some tenant from hell therapy i've got several of my more interesting stories floating around the bigger pockets forums. Here is a link to a couple.

TENANTS FROM HELL #2 Tubs & Showers from hell. PICS INCLUDED!

TENANTS FROM HELL #1 Deplorable living conditions. PICS INCLUDED!

Aww man! The tenant was evicted and was upset! They were a tenant for 6 years you would have never thought they would do such a thing after having a very upstanding landlord such as a myself. Lesson to learn: Don't let nothing or no one surprise you! 

Originally posted by @Terrell Garren :

@Matthew Paul Thanks for providing experienced comments. If I evict someone, what keeps them from renting again in a good neighborhood if they opt not to use me as a reference or are dishonest about being evicted?

The previously-evicted tenant could claim the evicting landlord was the landlord from HELL and if they are a smooth enough talker, might be able to pull it off. It boils down to your word against their word.

If they were evicted due to the non-payment of rent, there might be a public record. But people who've declared bankruptcy or defaulted on a loan can still get credit of some sort (the terms may be less that stellar). The day after my friend's bankruptcy became final, he was flooded with junk mail credit card offers ("you can have it all"). The creditors at least knew he was not saddled with any debt payments at that point.

If they were let go due to lifestyle issues (playing their music too loud, constantly refusing to cooperate with the landlord over maintenance issues, whatever), there might not be a public record on the matter. Being hard to get along with is not a crime and often the landlord (or employer) has to "keep book" to build a case to get rid of the drama-prone person. Landlords need to tread lightly here because the clever former tenant might consider filing a slander or libel lawsuit if they want to continue being a thorn in someone's side.

When I went to the leasing office one morning to pay my rent, I overheard one of the staff talking on the phone to a prospective tenant. Their credit report came back with a non-payment of rent. But when the staff member called the former landlord, that landlord had no record of that person ever living there. At the time, I thought it was a strange computer database error. Now I realize the cause might have been some bad blood between people. I have no idea how that particular situation got resolved. 

Originally posted by @Mike Bisson :
Well sorry th hear that. I think that a lot of us went through that also. Even if not pleasant i can reassure that it just makes you a better landlord. You just had a good lesson and as much as it sucks (I know as I've been there too) take advantage of it. Just remember that you are building a system, and there is mistakes or crack in it at first. once you know them you can fix them, then afterwards your system just gets better and better. to me the 90% of this business is in the tenant. so if you think you have done a good job i must tell you that you didn't. something went wrong or you missed something so the best thing to do is to review your screening process. sometime a bad tenant will slip through the crack but if you did your homework it shouldn't be too bad. and personally I'd rather have my house empty then having a bad tenant. I'm sure you'll agree. once done right you can be reassure that there is no stress and that it is smooth sailing. but you have to do your homework and do a good screening.

good luck

Thanks Mike, appreciate the comments and will work on the screening process.

@Gill Winslow

If you go in the gutter to get your ROI, you have to be prepared to deal with human misery. That's the cost of doing business. Sorry for being so vague, but...you have to be prepared.

I agree with Brian's screening method and I have all those requirements and on a website so when someone calls I copy paste and text them the  link and they can read the details and download the applications as well. Repair requests and bids from contractors are also received via a link and the work is tracked and handled. Every process can be tracked on google spreadsheets so we as owners can view status on everything 24/7.

Yes, Class C / D is different from B.  Always speak to everyone with respect, but depending on the location, if you have to be the one to go there don't go there alone.  My friend brings his pitbull in his truck if he has to go there.  You can make a nice profit with C D buildings especially in areas targeted by the city for redevelopment because the city is basically begging you to handle the problem.  These are all true stories. 

Just know you need a stomach for it.  Even in our class B C buildings, I've been pulled into depositions involving my tenants claiming things.  By the way I have 80 units class B- Cleveland in escrow and available and you can steal it.  

Originally posted by @Genny Li :

I don’t know where class A gets anything except through appreciation, but in my hometown, B/B- was the sweet spot. Lots of permanent renters and students. Here, it’s C all day long. 

Some folks swear by A. I’d love to see those numbers on a rental, not a flip!

Check back with me toward late fall and I will have a response as I am Developing / building 100 units and should have a good jump on the numbers by then. Preliminary looks like +$500 on rents averaging $1600 and all A properties should sell in the market for upper 6's low 7's on a cap rate with current market conditions.

@Gill Winslow

Having a PM has made things so much easier. Let's take a step back though man. 

What zip code are your properties in? That may be your biggest "issue" because of the tenant pool it attracts. Or you could simply call @jameswise  

As for a property management company.....I went onto Zillow.....typed in Duplexes for sale in zip code 44$$$ and saw who the agents were that had properties for sale there...and asked them who they recommend as PMs.

As for your other questions I always  accounted for 10% in my calculations. You need to start doing that as well my friend.