What to do in this situation? Tenant needs help?

11 Replies

Dear Josh and Jordan, Its Misty from your 40 Paisley Ave rental. I'm writing because I'm having a complete nervous breakdown about some news I've gotten recently. My mom, who not only cosigned to help me get approved for this home, she has also helped me out in part with my rent, and has been diagnosed by her doctor, after dealing with some stomach issues, that not only does she have some type of colitis or maybe something more, further testing is needed, but, she also has 2 holes in her heart, that will require surgery, and in turn will need to take medical leave from work beginning July 31st, which is the day of Her surgery. This all happened very suddenly, as I mentioned previously, that it was her stomach that was giving her trouble, we were all thrown for a loop learning it was her heart too. In short, i unfortunately, just simply cannot sustain the entire amount of the rent on my own in addition to the utilities, and after exploring other options on my end with no answer, I needed to turn to you guys and just be honest, I don't know what to do. Im literally a nervous wreck About this situation especially since school is right around the corner, and knowing that we have a binding agreement with the lease. I'm hoping that you guys may have some options for me. I read subletting was mentioned in the lease, I'm not exactly familiar with all of this renting/lease jargon, or how that would work, or if it's even an available option, I'm just in a desperate situation at this point. I truly am so very sorry, I'm just in the worst position, it feels. I'm really worried about this, in addition to being worried about my moms health, I'm a mess. Please let me know what I can do. I appreciate everything. Thank you. Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android

The human aspect would be to help her.  But I've heard every story in the book.  In truth, she is bringing her economic and personal problems to you.  Your relationship with this tenant is a transaction, nothing more.

I'd let her out of her lease, if she leaves.  The lease is in full force, and payment is expected, unless she vacates within 30 days.

Two scenarios will happen.  Your tenant will solve her own problems and stay.  Or they will start to default on the full rental payment.  My advice above is just to proactively get rid of a problem tenant.

@Joshua D. I’m with @Brian Ploszay in this one. Don’t get involved. You can let her out of the lease if you’re in a giving mood but don’t give her any breaks on rent.

Rent is due as it always is. If she doesn’t want to leave and can’t pay, you’ll likely need to evict.

@Brian Ploszay Thank you Brian. She’s been a great tenant up until this point. Always has paid on time & gives us no problems at all. Extremely respectful. However, I agree with you.

The first thing I would do is ask the tenant what she proposes. She is the one with the problem so I would make her come up with at least a proposed solution. Nothing says you have to accept it, but I would at least want her to put some more thought into the solution. 

From what I can tell, all you have at this point is a long rambling email with the only mention of anything remotely resembling a solution is the mention of the word “subletting”. 

With all that being said, at the end of the day I’d be inclined to let her out of the lease if you believe she can no longer afford to stay there for whatever reason. The worse thing you can do is force a non-paying tenant to remain in your property. 

Tough one. I would reply with something along these lines: 

"Dear Misty, I'm so sorry to hear about your mom's health. It's a good thing she went to the doctor and caught the issue early on. It sounds like she has a good doctor and is in the best hands. Thank you for being straight forward and informing us of the situation regarding not being able to sustain the monthly rent for this unit. There are charity organizations that you may be able to apply to in order to get assistance on rent, and we would be happy to accept rent from such an organization (insert charity names and contact info if you know of any, in my area there are several grant programs that help single women specifically). Or, if you need a few weeks to find a less expensive place, we will let you out of the lease agreement with 30 days notice. Unfortunately we have our own expenses such as bank payments, taxes, insurance and maintenance that require us to rent the apartment at the set price. Wishing the best for you and your mother during this difficult time. Our prayers are with you that the surgery goes well and she recovers quickly."  

It's especially sad when evictions are due to health issues. 100% of the evictions I've had to execute had some type of health issue component, either real or made up. I'd wager that a high percentage of evictions are due to health issues. Everyone gets sick or injured eventually, and it's expensive to deal with. As a landlord you can't act as a charity, you have your own financial obligations to your lender, your investors, your reserve funds, your other tenants, your family, your goals for growing the business, your own health issues, etc.

 Also as an aside, she should have told you from the beginning that her mom was subsidizing her rent, and you should have screened her to make sure her individual income was 2-3 times rent.   

Find out what she is proposing, does she want out and is proposing subletting the unit. Is she asking if she can sublet part of the unit? For the former I would just let her out of the lease with your normal process for a lease termination. For the later you need to judge if the space is sufficient and this would work for you. I would also give her any local agencies you know that may provide temporary help.

Sorry about your mothers and your problems .  We have a strict rule of " No pay No Stay " .  Let us know of your decision .  Please read your lease to see what the ramifications of your actions are .

I would write her back and let her know you are sorry to hear about her mother’s situation. Let her know that due to this unfortunate situation that if she moves out by July 31 and leaves the apartment in good condition, you will let her out of the lease without any lease breaking fees or court record.

Then find a new tenant ASAP and replace her. And only accept a tenant whom can pay the rent without a co-signer. Hopefully she will write back and agree to it and move out. If she does not agree let her know that if she does not pay the August rent on time you will be forced to file for eviction which will damage her rental history. Hopefully this will encourage her to take your deal. If not then follow thru with the eviction the day after the August rent is due. She has already let u know that she can’t afford the rent so no need to drag it out and lose more rent.

@Joshua D. I know everyone says to not get personally involved, but when a tenant tells you the will not have money to pay rent, you need to get involved. Why on earth would you wait until she was shorting you rent to take action? She wants to work with you now, so I would suggest to her that she moves out. Get her out of the property as fast as possible before she runs out of money. Get someone in that has money to pay. Take part or all her deposit as a re-rental or lease break fee (or don't depending on how hard it was to rerent). Keeping tenants in your property who don't have ability to pay is bad business.