Hello Everyone, Thank you for your advice in Advance.
Here is the Situation. We are in California. Our lease ended with tenant who is mexican and they moved out of the house. We went inside and found missing and broken appliances, missing 2 doors, damaged and broken 2 doors. Hundreds of holes in the wall, filthy carpet, leaking roof and number of different kind of modifications on flooring. Like Vinyl tiling fixtures all over.
4 other concerning things, please give us your input on point 3 if you know anything related to that in our situation:
1. The tenant was living under Section 8 (subsidized renting program) and we now know that they were and are still committing fraud with section 8. Let's assume our tenant's name is 'abc' age approximate 43. So abc is claiming section 8 subsidy by demonstrating herself as a single mother of 3 with not enough income. The lease was on her name. But in reality, she lives with her husband and 3 kids, 1 kid who is a minor also has a kid. At many instance she referred her husband a s her husband but is taking subsidy claiming she is a single mother with not enough income. Now they drive Luxury Cars Like 2- Mercedez S Class, Honda Sedan, And an expensive, modified huge pick up truck. So their so called below poverty income claim with section 8 doesn't match with their luxury lifestyle.
2. Based on what we know and found out from neighbors, although we don't have any abstract evidence, Tenants were misusing the property to run a Prostitution type of business, massages service etc. They had those professional massage tables, a bar at the entrance of the home where people usually have living room. The house is turned into a fort with like 2 door each, front and back with 2 locks on each door. Total 8 locks for 2 home entry points. 2 locks on the door leading from garage towards the home. Painted the lower level extremely dark. Neighbors claim that there were several men who would come to the property for 10-15 mins and park the vehicles a bit away from property. Neighbors have been watching over with state of the art security cameras but they said they didn't want to get involve so they didn't report anything.
3. Tenant erected a 12 x 12 outdoor extendable living accommodation shed in the backyard without any permission installed permanent tiles, ran wiring in the shed for lighting, fans, for electrical devices and also for air conditioning. Hooked up electricity lines to the main line. Installed a window in the shed. We were surprised to see that there and she said she was going to use it for her business. She never took permission from us for any of that. She never took permission from us to run a business from the rental property. Based on what we feel either she was going to sublet that living shed or use that in her adult business. She vacated the property almost at midnight and said she will send her guys to remove the shed next week. We don't want the shed there but we dont want to let her in or anyone from her side after she sent us profanity filled text messages when we very courteously gave her details of the damaged we saw on property. The situation is like we want to request a restraining order against her from court. The living shed is installed on concrete tile like bricks in the backyard and if thoroughly hooked up with wires and is also hooked to main line of the home. Is that not a permanent fixture now. Also since they have moved, so does that living shed becomes our property now. Again we are in California. Please let us know.
4. Our backyard was lush green with beautiful grass. They installed a above ground swimming pool in the backyard, that damaged the grass and backyard completely. There is just no grass there now. We don't know if we can claim damages on that?
Thanks again for any advice you can offer.
The damage was not done overnight as Dennis points out. It sounds like you were not engaged in your business and negligent in your responsibilities. You obviously did not do your regularly inspections as would be required of a landlord. Your loss as a result.
You can try to take the tenant to court to collect but based on the fact that you neglected your property I would suggest that you just do the necessary repairs and sell the property.
Let them in to remove the out building as you will need to remove it to sell. Don't count on them actually removing it however. You should also be reporting them to the welfare office.
So this tenant has already moved out? This means they have likely already moved into someone else’s home, which means it is probably too late for you to do anything of meaning. When I hear squirly info from neighbors of my SEC 8 tenants I start monitoring the court websites to see if any of my 18 year old + occupants have any criminal charges. With SEC 8 they don’t even have to be found guilty. If they are charged they can lose their voucher. This seems crazy to me because people are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, but I literally had a tenant in this situation last month. Her court date didn’t even occur yet and SEC 8 terminated her voucher. I agree that a mid-lease inspection would have caught this much earlier. If they were within your lease you could have sent them a default letter, explaining what they needed to do cure it, copied SEC 8. When they didn’t cure it you could have taken them to court and eventually evicted, which would have resulted in the lose of their voucher, and more importantly, remained on record as a warning for other landlords.
If we as landlords don’t take the small effort to take bad tenants to court, even when there is not hope of collecting, so as to warn other landlords, we are letting our industry down. We end up recycling the same bad tenants, rewarding their bad behavior, because some cheap landlord wouldn’t pay the $71 to get a judgment and/or possession.
First off, I believe this person was an American citizen, not a Mexican. They may be of Mexican descent but I think you have to be a citizen to receive Section 8 benefits. Then again, some states don't care about laws...
Second, I don't see a question. They are scam artists and bad tenants. Get the place turned around and move on. Learn how to screen better and how to conduct inspections on a regular basis so this doesn't happen again.
As for the scammers, you can't get blood from a turnip. Report them to Section 8 and send any uncollected charges to a credit reporting agency. That may be enough to stop them from scamming the next Landlord.
Thanks for your feedback everyone. The property belonged to my wife when she rented it out to the tenant 2 years ago. My wife and I got married about 4 month ago. I agree that this thing didn't start overnight. My wife was very careless in screening tenants and inspecting property. But, I will take them to court even if don't get any recovery done for the damages to our property. I am already building a case to submit it to section 8.
Sell it as is - you will probably make a ton of money.
Or keep it - you will also make some money. Just fix up and screen for tenants better. Put an ad on CL - somebody will come and move the shed for you. Maybe even find a contractor and see if this shed can be brought up to code and permitted....
What's done cannot be undone. Just be more careful next time.
Starting your story with "tenant who is mexican" probably isn't going to earn you much sympathy - there's a concept called Fair Housing.... If you're going to be in the landlord business you might want to look into it.
In my experience, a problem tenant remains a problem as long as they are allowed to. Seems that you had a bad tenant, but it sounds like there was a pretty decent lack of oversight.