How Do I Handle This: poorly insulated unit and rude tenants

32 Replies

Hello Everyone,

This is going to be a little lengthy....

I'm a new landlord, and these are my first tenants. They live in an apartment above my garage. The lower half is not insulated, and the HVAC system is old but functional - though not really good. About a month back, the drip pan filled up and forced it to shut off. My tenants texted me that day telling me it was 97 degrees in the unit! I was out of town too, but I spent the next hour and a half calling people to see who could come out. I only found 1 guy able to do it the next morning.

So the guy came out the next day and cleaned the drip line and got a slow drip going. He told me that the unit was reaching the end of its life and couldn't figure out why it was dripping so slowly. He said a new unit would be like 4-5k and that's before construction costs since the attic opening is so tiny, it would have to be widened to actually get it up there. So I'm figuring more like 6-7k, all things considered. Maybe more? I don't know.... But for the time being, it was at least cooling. So I figured we were good - I'd keep checking to make sure it was dripping, and the tenants would let me know if it goes bad again. My girlfriend and I bought some blinds for the windows hoping that would help some - the unit had none, and I got some insulation to put on the garage ceiling. I was in the middle of putting up the insulation when one of the tenants came by to pick something up, and she was angry that the driveway had puddles in it from the rain and my truck was parked in the least-wet spot. I had only parked there to unload the insulation. So she yelled at me about that as she walked back to her car. This was 2 days after the ~$1600 butt-wipe/tampon sewage clog I decided not to take out of their security deposit, and after I got them a decent hotel room for 2 nights while the clog was being fixed. I already let them use $150 from their security deposit as a deposit to the power company because I hadn't told them they might need to do that (this is their first time renting). Not to mention I've so far turned a blind eye to the cat they snuck in (I explained at lease signing that's a $200 fee). Me and my girlfriend were actually checking up on it while they were in the hotel. We laugh about it, but it's got me feeling like a total beta in my own home. See I'm nice, right? But I feel I've been WAY too nice so far.

Another thing that's kind of important to note: while the AC guy was over, the one who didn't yell at me was home and she's apparently been going through stuff lately. At one point she was crying telling me she didn't care if she lived or died anymore and she had cut her wrists a few weeks ago (in MY unit, no less!) - I saw the marks but didn't think they were recent. They both had a friend that was killed less than a week before then so they were dealing with that. It's just been such a sticky situation, and I was trying to help them a bit by cutting them some slack. Probably would've been a bad time to bring up the pet fee.

Anyway, they got their power bill a few days after the guy fixed the AC and it was like $180 for the 700 sq.ft. apartment. I know that's a lot. They were keeping it in the low 70's, but I don't think it ever got that cool. And I felt bad because they asked me what the bill would be like when they signed the lease, and I said I just moved into the main house myself and it really varies, but I didn't expect it to go over the low $100's. They have brought that up several times now. I was wrong there, but I keep getting the impression they think I should reimburse them. I feel like as long as the unit is habitable, that's more their problem than mine. So here's two questions: am I wrong in assuming this? And if I am wrong, how low does their power bill need to get down to for it to not be my responsibility?

So a month later (3 days ago at the time of writing this), I got a text from one of them saying their new bill came in and it was $220. They've been keeping at at 76 the past month I think, but they said that it doesn't cool below 80 during the day - though when they texted me that I took it to mean that they had it set to 80 (I told them that's what I've been doing). After being sworn and yelled at while doing the insulation a month earlier, I didn't finish putting it up. I didn't give them the blinds either. I see no reason to do favors for them if they're going to talk to me like that. But I'm so new to this, I don't know. Did I cross a line there? I saw it as more of me doing them a favor anyway, not stepping on some unalienable rights of theirs as my tenants. Regardless, we gave them the blinds after the $220 bill, and I gave them the option of installing the blinds themselves or having me install them and they chose to do it themselves.

So I get a text this afternoon saying, "It's 87 degrees. This should have been fixed by now." This is from the one that mouthed off to me. This is the first time since it broke that I heard about it going over 80 degrees. Guess what though? They hadn't even installed the blinds yet. So she's saying she doesn't see why she should have to pay this bill since I refused to pay to have the AC fixed. Call me crazy, but I'm getting the vibe she's pointing fingers at me and trying to make it seem like I'm negligent. But what she doesn't understand is that as far as I was concerned, it was fixed and they should just put up some blinds and maybe set it a little higher. But 87 degrees when you have it set to 76 is ridiculous. I'm not arguing that - it's just this is the first time I heard that there was such a big issue since it broke the first time and it seems to be approaching uninhabitable conditions. 

I texted back saying I had somewhere to be soon but I'd be over to check it out in an hour at the latest. We texted back and forth while I was out just so I could get more details on the issue, and it got a little heated. She said she wasn't trying to be rude, and I said she was being very rude, just because of the stuff she started the conversation with. Soon, she told me not to worry about coming over, the blinds were up now and they'll see if that fixed it. And I'm totally confused at that point because I thought it was a broken AC issue. She said it wasn't cooling. If it's not cooling, I needed to actually call someone. I just wanted information so I could know what needed to be fixed. 

Anyway, she seemed satisfied enough to not have me mess with it, and I didn't want to deal with her, so I didn't go over. The other tenant was texting me too, and I said I'd finish installing the insulation and we'd see how that affected things along with the blinds. If that doesn't work, I'll look into a window unit for them. I said that to her about the window unit. So I thought we were good at that point. But then I got another text like 15 minutes later saying the angry one's granddad would be in touch with me soon. And I'm like "what does that even mean"? He apparently does HVAC installation for a living, and he wanted to explain to me why insulation under the floor wouldn't work. I said I'd research it and call the guys from before if I needed help with the unit itself, and that I didn't want to start involving family members. So what happens next? Ten minutes later, the angry one's mom calls me. Really? Her mom called me and talked about how I should consider getting them some kind of window unit or some other non-central alternative and it was clear that her daughter and I aren't friends and she isn't the best at communicating and she's been so hot in that apartment all day and more excuses.

I'll be the first to admit I butted heads with this girl more than I should have. I feel like I'm renting to a couple of children playing house, and I'm embarrassed that I stooped to that level. I'm embarrassed that I cut them so many breaks. So if anyone can spare any advice for me, please help me out here. I really don't know what to do moving forward. I need input from unbiased parties. My plan is to install the insulation, most likely get a window unit (though I doubt that'll help their bill), wait to hear about their next bill, and figure out what to do from there.

@Brian H Gavin, Jr.

Let them out of their lease and get rid of them. Use the cat if necessary.

You live in South Carolina. It's July. The A/C has to do better than that.

Your above-the-garage apartment was not rent-ready. You misled them on how much utility costs would be. You're going back and forth on what you should do and what you shouldn't do. Their names are on the lease and you're talking to the parents? Seriously? Why don't you just open a daycare center up there and be done with it?

Then there's the blinds, which you can't decide to put in or not for some reason, like it matters. Once you get the brackets in you can change out the blinds easily. That's what you should be focused on instead of the hurt feelings.

This is a business. You're in for a loss. The children have not grown up and cannot take care of their own problems. You've made mistakes -- acknowledge all of them openly and honestly. Take the loss. Fix the apartment -- rip out the drywall on the exterior walls and insulate the hell out of that place with fiberglass or rock wool. I don't know how the ceiling is set up. Insulate it.

Get the space rent-ready and solid or give up thinking you can use the space for anything other than storage. As far as the A/C goes, you have multiple solutions available instead of just changing the whole A/C system. There are window units. There are mini splits. Research these alternatives.

You talk about putting insulation ON the garage ceiling. Huh? Rip off any drywall that's on that ceiling. Insulate the cavities, preferably with rockwood. Replace with 5/8 in. Type X drywall for a fire-rated ceiling. Finish the drywall and paint. You have an unheated garage that probably gets up to a million degrees and an apartment over it. Heat rises.

Stop complaining about cleaning out sewage clogs. Young women almost always flush tampons unless someone tells them not to -- you took your hit and now you know. Stop getting involved in your tenants' personal lives and teen-angst, stop asking about failed suicide attempts past or present -- they're not your friends, this is none of your business. Tenants are tenants and landlords are landlords for good reasons. Be a landlord if that's what you want.

what @Jim K. says.  get them out, pay them if you must to get them out and restart the LL biz.  good luck.

Go on Craigslist and buy a 10k btu AC unit that vents out the window for $150-$200. Insulate the entire living area. If that doesn’t stop the complaining, let them out of their lease. Apologize for the place not being ready and tell them you would like to let them out of their lease. The high power bills are probably due to the space not being insulated or the AC unit running inefficiently. Either way, I feel you need to make it right irregardless if the tenant stays or doesn’t.

I think you should think about finding another profession because you're not gonna make it as a landlord...

You may see yourself as being nice but my interpretation is that you are a pushover and naive. A red flag I noticed is that you rented to tenants without any rental history. This is especially concerning since they live in a unit at your own home. I would never consider renting to someone without a good reference from a previous landlord, income which is three times the rent, and passing a criminal background check. You can’t expect tenants to have perfect credit but an income so low that they can’t afford $150 electric fee is not someone whom is going to be reliable. Paying it yourself was a huge mistake and gave them the message that they can walk all over you. If they could not afford it it would of been better to let them out of their lease than to pay it yourself.

Ignoring your lease and the cat because of personal issues is not wise if you want to be a landlord. The unit also is not rent ready because of insulation and ac issues.

I think your best option is to get rid of the tenants, renovate the unit, and then find new tenants after doing a proper screening of tenants. Do not offer to pay your tenants bills and follow your own lease.

Perhaps the cat could be a reason to evict them. Perhaps you could work something out with them where you pay them to leave. I would suggest consulting with a lawyer to find out the best way to get these tenants or and start over. Hopefully you can learn from this experience and do things far differently next time. Keep your relationships with your tenants professional and not personal.

"I need input from unbiased parties."

I will preface my statements with the fact that as a landlord I am not a unbiased party. You have, as you indicate been very nice, what I  prefer to call "unprofessional" with these children. Admittedly you do not know what you are doing.

Tell them immediately that you will be releasing them from the lease and in the interim do nothing more with the unit beyond continuing to maintain the existing AC unit. Do not pay them to leave, do not offer a rent rebate simply release them and tell them they must leave. If they refuse to leave you must stop treating them so nice and ignore/put off their complaints.

You need them gone and you need to get the unit in rent ready condition so that future tenants whining can be ignored. Unfortunately based on the type of unit you are renting this is going to be a pattern in the quality and maturity level of tenants you will be getting.

In the future never accept first time renters....major mistake on your part. Live and learn.

Offer to let them out of their lease. Maybe say you were mislead when you purchased the place and assumed the only lacking insulation was the garage ceiling. They will now go forward on the lease with the apartment “as is” or move. Their choice. Ask for the pet deposit per the signed lease . Show them the plumbing bill and tell them next one due to anything other than tp in line is on them....kitchen grease or food from not using supplied sink strainer, dirt from potting plants, tampons, you name it. Girls are the worse.
I am currently sitting in my living room above a garage that I assume is uninsulated. 700 sq ft. Cathedral ceiling...so 6” batt insulation and 3 walls exterior with 4th to uninsulated attic...Austin, TX. We have never paid over $250 for electric for the entire 2700 sq ft house. Your walls and/or ceiling may be uninsulated. Blinds will not do much. So insulate and add Solar screens maybe.
Next tenants give house rules. Make them sign a copy. Write down how to take care of the house, etc and read it to new tenants at lease signing. Maybe Laminate and post on pantry or cabinet interior door. Nothing in drains, landlord will change filters monthly w 24 hour notice, must keep clean so no bugs, speak polite to landlord no curse words, no visitors over 2 days without permission, landlord priority parking, whatever will protect your property and sanity. And put in lease that tenants must follow house rules.
Your condensate line should drain freely. Blow compressed air through it or suck with a shop vac the other end. Home depot has tablets to put in the pan but you can pour bleach water through the tube to clean algae/muck out. Did your hvac guy check your freon? Because if you have insulation either the compressor is going out...which should happen very soon...or the freon is low I would think. Just a guess. I would weigh all alternatives when it comes to replacement. Window units do a pretty good job...it is a garage apt after all. Sounds like a bit low end tenant base too.

If my room was 80 degrees all the time you would be getting calls from me too. Sorry but that’s the fact.
And like everyone else suggested, get the room rent ready first so you don’t have to go through all of this again and use every little thing you learned through this experience and apply it next time. Don’t let other people tell you what you can do or don’t, but like I said if you don’t learn from your mistakes and put your foot down, you shouldn’t involve yourself in this business.
Good luck man.

"How Do I Handle This: poorly insulated unit and rude tenants"

Simple. Insulate the unit properly and get rid of the rude tenants.

@Jim K. thank you for your advice. I will speak to an attorney about the best way to get them out. I don't think they will go peacefully. Positions of power are not something I have a lot of experience with. I've always defaulted to letting people use me as a doormat just to avoid conflict, but here I am complaining about it when I'm the one that allowed it to happen. That's usually how it's gone in the past. I should have had a professional inspect the unit prior to all this. I'll make the fixes and start over.

@Derek Janssen I didn't even think to use Craigslist. I think I will go with a window unit or 2. Thanks for that.

@Amy Beth yeah, like I said to Jim, this has been a pattern with me. You're totally right. I'll definitely talk to a lawyer.

@Thomas S. I will talk to an attorney and do that if I have the grounds to. I would love to just have them gone. Could they not make a legitimate issue out of it since it's not in rent-ready condition though? I really have no idea. I'm hesitant to make a big move like that and then risk having them push back legally if I'm not in the right.

@Marian Smith I will definitely add house rules. I clearly can't take anything for granted in this business. Window units do seem like the best option here.

Thanks everyone else who provided constructive criticism. I appreciate you all taking the time to read my lengthy, whiny post. I have a lot of learning to do. When I wrote this there was still a naive part of me wondering if I was being unfair to them. When I have multiple people coming at me telling me I'm wrong, it's easy for me to doubt myself. But it seems to me that the wrongs I've done are as follows: I mislead them about the AC (unintentionally), I should not have engaged in their personal lives, and I should have screened better.

To fix this, I will do the following in this order: speak to a lawyer about how to remove them, install window units, check insulation in attic and walls, count my losses, write tenant rules, start over with better screening.

@Brian H Gavin, Jr. you are getting way too emotional. This is a business that needs to have set rules and policies. Just because a tenant yells at you, doesn't mean you retaliate and refuse to address the cooling problem. Maybe you are renting to children, but you are also acting like a child throwing a tantrum. Of course they are mad and mouthing off. How would you feel if your house was 92 degrees or 87 degrees with an electric bill twice what you were quoted???

Your role as a landlord is to keep the property maintained. The AC is clearly not working. It is not cooling properly and is costs over twice what YOU told them it would cost (probably due to it failing). The AC guy told you to replace it. You need to replace the AC unit, finish insulating and install blinds. 

We need to separate the issues:

- AC needs to be replaced and cooling issues fixed, that is your responsibility

- Cat needs to be removed or they need to pay the pet fee, that is the tenants responsibility

- Tone of mutual respect needs to be restored. Have conversation with them letting them know you let yourself get emotional and apologize. Let them know that you will not tolerate uncivil behavior. They can't yell at you. Also let them know the contract is with them and you will NOT talk to mom or dad or anyone not on the lease about their concerns. It is their first place and they are young, but they need to understand they are adults now (say it that way). Only have this conversation after you fix the cooling problem.

Your story is the "untold" part of house hacking. We always hear "let your tenants make your mortgage payment" but the flip side is that you are responsibility as a landlord. You need to have the cash to do major repairs because you are legally responsible. Everyone wants the upside from house hacking, but they also need to be professional when dealing with the responsibility (and expense) of being a landlord.

This can all be repaired and chalk it up to a learning lesson on how to deal with people. I was way more emotional when I stared out. I find it helps to just pretend in my mind that I am just an employee at my company. I just state the policy and fix the problems. If someone gets mad, I just say I am trying to help them and ask them to remain calm. If they keep an uncivil tone, I just tell them we will need to continue the discussion later when they calm down. When people complain about silly things (like puddles), I just ignore it. You never know what issues/problems people have in their lives. Sometimes they may take it out on you, when it is just other crap in their life. Let it roll off. This is just a business.

The window units are usually much smaller BTU while the unit that vent out the window are usually larger - 10k BTU

@Joe Splitrock I will apologize to them. I have a lot of social conditioning I need to undo. I am in control of my reactions regardless of what they say or do. I will fix the AC and then discuss all of this with them. Thank you for putting it into perspective. I want to be good at this, and I appreciate you and everyone else taking the time to give me advice.

@Brian H Gavin, Jr.

Hey, I've made MUCH bigger, costlier mistakes than this, and I'm still standing. I don't think this is about your personality, Brian. It's about your behavior when faced with a series of general stresses you're going to experience over and over again in this business. Take the personal aspect out of it. There's a learning curve to managing properties and dealing with tenants. There's also a learning curve to learning how to fix and improve residential light-framed structures. YOU CAN LEARN AND SUCCEED.

For instance, here, it wouldn't have mattered at all if you had had a "professional" inspect the unit. This has been a very hot summer here in Southwestern PA, and I suspect the same is true in South Carolina. The professional, probably a home inspector, would have asked you some basic questions, poked around a bit and given you a technical report possibly recommending more insulation, possibly not, and minimal specifics how to go about doing it.

The second thing that was totally up to you and no one else was screening these girls. Again, something you need to learn. They might have slipped through anyway. People, even first-time renters, can pretend through interviews that they're all grown up, they can have clean records, and you still get Mommy yelling that she's gonna sue you on the phone at 7 one fine morning when communication breaks down.

I don't know how the conversation that led to Suicide Sally's revelations went here. Some young woman carry a traumatic experience of abuse around with them and the only way they can deal with it is to tell it to anyone who will listen as their grand protestation of accusing the world of having failed them. Some think an unsuccessful suicide attempt sets them apart from the common herd of humanity and makes them exceptional, just as some feel the same way about various drug experiences. Maybe you were just sitting there talking about the sewage clog and out it came. I can't even write some of the deeply personal and thoroughly nutbag revelations tenants have imparted to me in various settings here or this post will definitely be edited down to PG.

The cat crap is Landlording 101. I'm sure EVERYONE commenting on your post went through it. I certainly did. Except in my case it was a pit bull. The dude who smuggled it in claimed he didn't know it was a pit bull. To my face. He claimed it was a boxer mix. Then I told him my father who bred American Staffordshire Terriers and started petting his dog. He still has the dog, he just pays me more to have it. I do have another tenant with a boxer and that dog is a bigger problem than the mild-as-milquetoast pit bull.

In closing, you wrote down your problems and posted them here, intentionally exposing yourself to criticism. Do you know how many properly assertive, macho types would never do that? We go through them a half-dozen per week here at BP, hysterically pounding their chests and asserting how smart and capable they are one week with their first real estate buy, completely GONE the next. Those guys NEVER learn, because each failure is an assault on their oversized ego, not their business model, and they simply can't stand that.

Yeah, there's stuff you still need to know. Join the club. It's not a bad club. Good luck to you, Brian. Message me if you need help with the technical details of insulating the apartment.

@Jim K.

The screening is totally on me, there was no slipping through the cracks on their part. There were some red flags right off the bat relating to their maturity levels, iffy financial situation, and poor financial decision-making skills. But I won't get into that more than to say they have a tendency to overshare and seem to be in a perpetual state of angst. Sally assured me they're "good people", and while I cringe every time I hear someone say something like that, I figured she's young and trying to make a good impression and will maybe learn one day that kind of stuff makes her sound silly. But I gave them a chance since they're just starting out. It was foolish of me though and I realize that now. 

As far as the suicide stuff goes, you pretty much hit the nail on the head. I was coming up the steps to their porch to tell her I was going to get them a room while the clog gets fixed and she was crying. I asked if she'd rather me wait to tell her the details and come back later, but she said it was fine. And then she offered all that info up to me. I didn't ask, it was just dumped in my lap.

I will definitely handle the cat thing as soon as the AC is settled. It might be easier to just fix this problem and keep them there for now. Like Joe said, I will have a civil talk with them about mutual respect and how I empathize with their climate condition, and apologize for getting heated. I worry they'll try and stop an eviction right now by claiming I'm doing it out of retaliation and say that I'm being negligent, even though while I knew the unit was on its last leg, yesterday was the first I heard about it getting so hot in there since it broke the first time. If they give me flack about the cat thing, out they go. Tell me if that sounds too lenient.

If there's one thing I know, it's not to take constructive criticism personally. "Sucking at something is the first step at being kind of good at something," is a quote I'm fond of. If I ran away crying every time someone told me something that made me feel dumb, where would I be in life? I'd be a lot dumber for it, going around acting like I'm always right and everyone owes me something, making excuses for myself. How far do those people usually get? Reality is there, and not acknowledging it would only get in my way.

@Derek Janssen

Thanks for the heads up. We ended up going with a window unit that's 17,600 BTU from Lowe's ($600). The apartment is 700 sqft. and the unit is suggested for 750-1000 sqft. I hope that's good enough for this particular situation. I'm sure it'll be far more efficient than the garbage machine we have now. I probably should have still looked on Craigslist, but I'm worried I'll buy something that has a problem and can't be returned.

Originally posted by @Brian H Gavin, Jr. :

@Jim K.

The screening is totally on me, there was no slipping through the cracks on their part. There were some red flags right off the bat relating to their maturity levels, iffy financial situation, and poor financial decision-making skills. But I won't get into that more than to say they have a tendency to overshare and seem to be in a perpetual state of angst. Sally assured me they're "good people", and while I cringe every time I hear someone say something like that, I figured she's young and trying to make a good impression and will maybe learn one day that kind of stuff makes her sound silly. But I gave them a chance since they're just starting out. It was foolish of me though and I realize that now. 

As far as the suicide stuff goes, you pretty much hit the nail on the head. I was coming up the steps to their porch to tell her I was going to get them a room while the clog gets fixed and she was crying. I asked if she'd rather me wait to tell her the details and come back later, but she said it was fine. And then she offered all that info up to me. I didn't ask, it was just dumped in my lap.

I will definitely handle the cat thing as soon as the AC is settled. It might be easier to just fix this problem and keep them there for now. Like Joe said, I will have a civil talk with them about mutual respect and how I empathize with their climate condition, and apologize for getting heated. I worry they'll try and stop an eviction right now by claiming I'm doing it out of retaliation and say that I'm being negligent, even though while I knew the unit was on its last leg, yesterday was the first I heard about it getting so hot in there since it broke the first time. If they give me flack about the cat thing, out they go. Tell me if that sounds too lenient.

If there's one thing I know, it's not to take constructive criticism personally. "Sucking at something is the first step at being kind of good at something," is a quote I'm fond of. If I ran away crying every time someone told me something that made me feel dumb, where would I be in life? I'd be a lot dumber for it, going around acting like I'm always right and everyone owes me something, making excuses for myself. How far do those people usually get? Reality is there, and not acknowledging it would only get in my way.

@Derek Janssen

Thanks for the heads up. We ended up going with a window unit that's 17,600 BTU from Lowe's ($600). The apartment is 700 sqft. and the unit is suggested for 750-1000 sqft. I hope that's good enough for this particular situation. I'm sure it'll be far more efficient than the garbage machine we have now. I probably should have still looked on Craigslist, but I'm worried I'll buy something that has a problem and can't be returned.

 That works.  Make sure you still insulate or that unit will bring another $300 bill.  

Brian, you're gaining experience.  Now you know "Well they're good people" = there's something wrong and you may have to deal with it.  Lessons are expensive in this business.  Tenant screening is one of the most important aspects of this business.

I was feeling more hopeful that you were learning from feedback from your earlier responses. However, your last message demonstrates that you are still being too lenient by allowing the cat without charging them the fee. You are setting yourself up for more problems by not enforcing the lease. Enforcing the lease is not something you do as a retaliation because they act up again. Enforcing a lease is what you do as a landlord no matter how the tenant(s) behaves.

I am not sure how we can help you since you do not seem to understand the concept of being a landlord. Only other suggestion I have is to hire a property manager and to let them manage your property. We all make mistakes but the problem is when we continue to make them without learning from it.

Brian I say this as constructive criticism:
You are going to have to change your entire mentality of landlording if you expect to last in this business . It is not for the timid or bighearted . Land lording is not managing land its managing people .. foolish people .. people who do extremely stupid and immature things consistently in their lives . You must become more sophisticated at running your business and you must must must ~remove emotion out of the equation ! settle this in your mind now if you want this to work going forward .

@Amy Beth I did not mean to give the impression I wasn't going to handle the cat issue. I feel like I was pretty straight forward in my last comment about that, but maybe I wasn't. I will tell them they have to pay the fee when I'm there tomorrow after I'm done installing the unit during the conversation about mutual respect. It'll kill 3 birds with 1 stone, and let them know this is the new normal. If they refuse to pay, I will evict them. I have not disregarded any advice you guys have given me.

@Dennis M. thank you Dennis, I am quickly learning that.

I am glad to hear that I misunderstood your previous post. I would add that I would let them know in writing instead of just verbally. Often times written notice is taken more seriously and will be needed if you do end up taking them to court.

@Amy Beth

Good point, I'll do that. Odds are they'll try and hide the cat from me. When I discovered it last time they said they "were holding it for a friend". I haven't gone into much detail about the cat because that wasn't what the post was originally about, but I knew about the cat for a few weeks prior to them admitting it was there. My roommate saw it through the window and I heard it scampering around a few times I was in the garage doing woodwork. I should've taken a picture of it when I was checking on the AC while they were in the hotel room, but at least we have 3 witnesses. I could check around the trash too for litter and food containers. At lease signing, one of them said she was thinking about getting a cat, and I said when she did, let me know and I'd give her an application and she could pay the fee, as it's written in the lease. I will stand firm and say I know the cat is theirs, and either way it has stayed overnight and the lease says that if they want to keep a pet on the premises, they must pay a pet fee. If they hide it or try and pass it off like it's back with their friend or own up and say it was theirs but they got rid of it, I think I'd need to seek legal advice since I don't have hard proof of the cat. It's going to be more difficult since I waited so long, but who knows - maybe they'll take it for granted that I ignored it before and just have the cat out in the open assuming I'm not going to do anything?

Think of This is as a good learning experience . It may not seem like it now but it is good to get this out of the way now so you can get on the right track landlording doing it right . I know it sucks I know your tenants are trash I know it’s completely frustrating dealing with these idiots but you will get through it ,make changes ,and be better for it in the end

What @Joe Splitrock said with regard to dealing with the repairs and tenants.

I did want to mention because I've been looking into them for a new property, the mini-split ductless AC units. This might be a good high-efficiency option for a garage apartment if the space is pretty open. 

Create Lasting Wealth Through Real Estate

Join the millions of people achieving financial freedom through the power of real estate investing

Start here