Evicting vacation rental tenant for smoking in no smoking house

11 Replies

I am brand new in the vacation rental market. I have a very nice property, furnished for short term monthly rentals.  The listing clearly states no smoking several times through out the description.  The tenants have been smoking cigarettes and weed in my nice house.  They have been asked to stop but have not.  My property manager has pictures.  They are slobs and completely disrespecting the property.  We are trying to get them to leave because of the smoking.  The owner of company these men work for is demanding remaining rent back plus security deposit.  I don't want to give security deposit back until I see how badly they treated my house.  I am sick over this.  They are my first renters in a pristine home.  They blatantly keep smoking. How do I get them out.  There are 3 more weeks on the ageement.

For true short term rentals you can usually proceed as hotels do....a lock out. But it seems you’re at 30 days which in most cases puts you in landlord/tenant territory....which would mean you’d never get them out in 3 weeks.
You need a local landlord/STR attorney. Their deposit may not be enough to remediate the smoke smell.

How is the company owner demanding "remaining rent back plus security deposit" if the workers still have three weeks remaining?

I'm not sure where you live but weed is still illegal in most states. If it is illegal in yours, call the cops the next time you smell it.

My main question: why isn't your property manager answering these questions for you?!? 

The damage is done. Unless they are breaking the law and can be arrested, there's not much you can do in the next three weeks except document. Once they are out, clean and repair as necessary and use their deposit to cover the charges. If the deposit doesn't cover the charges, go after the employer that made the reservation.

If you had an experienced property manager, they would have warned you against putting a construction crew in a pristine vacation rental. I don't even put them in empty homes without a significant deposit, increased rent, and a credit card on file. And when your tenants are smoking weed in the home and living like slobs, your property manager should be able to explain exactly how he/she will handle it.

You need to find a better manager or get out of the business.

I would fire your property manager . Their job is to handle this nonsense ! That’s why you pay them .. to manage the property . Your pm must be smoking some of that good dope with the tenants

@Katherine Pinkerton

I agree with @Nathan G. , why isn't your property management handling this! 

There are many problems here. 

Also, what did they pay? I think they paid too little. After having problems with my first STR stay as well, I make sure I am ALWAYS priced appropriately, it screens 80% of the bad tenants. I also personally don't allow people to stay longer than 2 weeks for the points pointed out above, stuff gets tricky when they stay 30 days or more in your house.

Travis Rasmussen.  A lot of mistakes have been made...this was my first ever renter.  I agree my property manager let me down by not being able to deal with problem.  That is why I'm here asking advice to see how not to let this happen again.  I like your advise about not pricing it so reasonably...we did not get our target market at all.  This struggle is stressful.  I have to do monthly rental in my neighborhood.  No weekend or weekly rentals.  I am naive, I suppose to expect decent respectful people.  They are supposed to be out tomorrow.  I have cleaners coming in Monday.  I need to go there to assess my house but am an 8 hour drive and cannot go for a week.   This episode makes me sick and sad, I want to sell my house there now and be done with it.  When I go see my grand kids I'll stay in some one else's nice vacation rental.  This house has been my grandkid house for over a decade and now this...so sour.  I'll report back after Monday when these horrid smokers are out and I hope my cleaners can clean it up.  I am worried the cigarette smell is in everything.  

@Katherine Pinkerton your story is a familiar one. Someone buys an investment, expects tenants to be decent people, learns that's not the case, sells the house and swears off real estate forever. 

Over half the rentals I manage are for people that tried it on their own and failed. You don't have to give up! Try hiring a professional property manager that can properly screen, deal with issues, and keep the property at market rate. It's an entirely different experience when you make money and don't have all the headaches.

You can start by going to www.narpm.org and search their directory of managers. These are professionals with additional training and a stricter code of ethics. It's no guarantee but it's a good place to start.

1. Ask how many units they manage and how much experience they have. If it's a larger organization, feel free to inquire about their different staff qualifications.

2. Review their management agreement. Make sure it explicitly explains the process for termination if you are unhappy with their services, but especially if they violate the terms of your agreement.

3. Understand the fees involved and calculate the total cost for an entire year of management so you can compare the different managers. It may sound nice to pay a 5% management fee but the extra fees can add up to be more than the other company that charges 10% with no add-on fees. Fees should be clearly stated, easy to understand, and justifiable. If you ask the manager to justify a fee and he starts hemming and hawing, move on or require them to remove the fee. Don't be afraid to negotiate!

4. Review their lease agreement and addendums. Think of all the things that could go wrong and see if the lease addresses them: unauthorized pets or tenants, early termination, security deposit, lease violations, late rent, eviction, lawn maintenance, parking, etc.

5. Don't just read the lease! Ask the manager to explain their process for dealing with maintenance or problem tenants. If they are professional, they can explain this quickly and easily. If they are VERY professional, they will have their processes in writing as verification that it is enforced equally and fairly by their entire staff.

6. Ask to speak with some of their current owners and current/former tenants. You can also check their reviews online at Google, Facebook, or Yelp. Just remember: most negative reviews are written by problematic tenants. The fact they are complaining online might be an indication the property manager dealt with them properly so be sure to ask the manager for their side of the story.

I hope this basic guide helps. If you have specific questions about property management, I'll be happy to help!

Thank you, Nathan!  You are helping me so much.  I wish you lived where my house is so you could manage my house.  Your suggestions are invaluable as I go forward. Cross your fingers the smokers leave today without a problem. Until they are gone and my lock code is changed I am uneasy.  Will be back for the final chapter in my crazy saga... Thank you.  I now know how to find a proper property manager...

Update.  The smoking dirty tenants are out.  Property manager says place is dirty and very cigarette smelling.  Cleaning crew comes tomorrow.  Property manager has a close friend lined up to stay in my house for several months while her house is remodeled starting August so I know she will make sure my place is very clean and no bad smell for her.  We are so relieved the smoking people are out!  And property manager filed complaint with VRBO and retrieved the security deposit.  Now I will deal with my property manager who needs to tighten up her act.  She knows...  I will use all suggetions made to help with this and keep learning.  Not sure I will keep my place as a rental after this next renter leaves.  It might be time to sell.