How do I handle a Tenant Car Break-In?

9 Replies

A question for the masses:

I own/occupy a 4Plex in Anchorage and am still trying to figure out how to talk to tenants - and what medium to use. In the lease I have with my tenants, we stipulate that each unit is authorized 2 vehicles per unit. The last week of August, one of my tenants bought an RV and parked it on the driveway (they already have a Hyundai and a jeep). Because they said they didn't have anywhere to store it and had a plan (they were just waiting for a spot to open up at the facility), I gave them a week to move it.  I came back from a trip three weeks later, and it was still there. I knocked on their door and told them that I would have to have it towed if it wasn't moved by the next day. They moved it that night - just parked it down the street where it currently remains.

Fast forward to last Saturday - the same tenants purchase another vehicle! They park one of their original vehicles behind their RV down the street to respect the 2 car per unit policy. At 5:30 AM on Sunday, their car alarm goes off and wakes everyone in the cul-de-sac up. As we drive by it on our way to run errand later in the day, we find the back window had been shattered. We informed the tenants that their jeep had been broken into and let them know we could help if they needed anything. They brought the jeep back on the property, parked their new bronco behind it, and parked their Hyundai half on the pavement and half on the lawn.

My question is: how long should I wait before bringing it up? I don't want to be heartless - they just had a car broken into. But at the same time, none of this would have happened if they would have planned ahead and found storage for both the vehicles they knew they didn't have room for anyway. I have another unit filled by three siblings, and we told them they couldn't have a third car - so how long should I give these guys before bringing up that it needs to be moved without souring the rapport I have with these guys? And if/when I do - should that just be a face to face conversation or a formal notice that they were instructed to move their car?

@Jeremy Bartlett I agree with @Dennis M. You need to enforce the lease. Your tenant having more than 2 vehicles is not your problem. The longer you wait to address this the harder it will be to deal with.

I would send a 14 day notice to cure and not bother knocking on doors.

Not making it easy on you are they! I'd say - firm but fair - if you have to. If you have more space - naturally share it - but sounds like it is tight. If they'll take advantage of your kindness here and now - they'll do it again on the interior of the building too. I'd say let them know where your line is (if it isn't changing or is...) - and hold it firm. Let them move along if need be - despite the short term pain it may feel like it is causing!

There is nothing heartless about it.  They know the rules.  You already had to remind them about it with the RV.  Sure, that's a bummer their car got broken into.  It might have happened no matter where they parked.  Maybe they left something valuable in it.  But even if the break-in was a result of it being the only car on the street, that still doesn't matter.  I would give them one more verbal warning/reminder.  And then post a Notice to Cure, if they don't comply.

Their car getting broke in to is irrevellent to the situation .  They are allowed 2 parking spaces .   What you need to do is issue parking permits and make a sign , any car parked without a permit is towed .  Then find a local tow company 

@Jeremy Bartlett you’re borrowing trouble, stop trying to console and get involved with tenants personal problems. Negative issues resulting from enforcing the lease are not your concern. If they moved their car and then found a winning lottery ticket on the ground would you be owed something?

Your only responsibility (and focus) is enforcing the lease. The rest is personal responsibility, police, and insurance.

Thanks for the advice everyone. I went ahead and addressed the issue - rather than jumping straight to a threat towards eviction with a notice to comply, I sent a simple text message first asking them to get the car off the grass, and to get the other vehicle moved within two weeks. The car was moved 30 minutes later and I came to find out they are selling their third vehicle anyway. They said if it wasn't sold by the date I specified they would find a new place to park it. Maybe new at this landlord thing, but I guess it boils down to simply not being afraid to just talk to tenants. Communication is the key to success!

Thanks again, I appreciate everyone's willingness to weigh in on the situation.