My tenant was robbed

21 Replies

One of my tenants apartment was robbed today. Someone broke the door to their unit and stole some stuff. I was told the cousin of one of my other tenants was staying in her apartment while she was out of town and that’s when the robbery happened. Now the tenant that just got robbed messaged me and said she feels unsafe, someone is making threats and she wants to break her lease and she would like her deposit to be returned. All of this happened in NY state. Can they break the lease? I paid for one night at the hotel so we can replace the door. Also we are installing a security cameras this week. Any advice?

I don't think I would just allow the tenant to break the lease.  This larceny (not a robbery unless she was home at the time of the break in) was not because of your negligence as the landlord.  And it sounds like you're acting appropriately in response to the incident.

What does your lease say about the consequences for breaking the lease?

From this 40,000 foot view, I would tell her I would let her out of the lease, but she is responsible for the unit's rent payments while it is vacate, while you make efforts to re-market, show and lease up the unit.  And I certainly would not refund any of her security deposit until a new lease was signed.  I suggest putting an agreement in writing that has the tenant bear some responsibility for breaching your contract.  I think that's a fair compromise given what little I know about the specifics of your lease and other aspects of the situation.

As @Wesley W. states allow them out according to the lease. She will owe rent until a new tennat moves in and will be responsible for all your costs associated with finding a new tennat....advertising, screening etc.

There is absolutely no reason for you to do her any favours. If she wants out make her pay for it.

@Mal K. I have over 122 tenants and been doing this for 15yrs. Do not pay for a hotel again! If she gets robbed or not she is still breaking the lease. If you put a clause in the lease that she can break the lease if she gets robbed then you must return it. But I have never seen a lease like that. Here's how i would handle it. Allow her to move because one way or another she's going to move. Tell her if i can rent the place with no months rent lost then i will return your deposit. If you have a gap then then no return of deposit. Or tell her you will allow her to break the lease once i can place a new tenant. Then place it for rent. Once its rented she can move. But don't ever pay for a hotel room again. Plus is someone actually really robbed her apartment. Some lie because they want to move. And my 20yrs experience as a police officer. Homes that get robbed are mostly done by people that they know. Feel free to reach out to me for any other questions. Good luck

@Frank Wolter   can you use the deposit for rent ???  technically I mean.. as its not rent its a deposit for damages ???

I know in a practical world most landlords probably snag deposit for rent and the tenants think that way.

I know on some of mine they simply did not pay the last months rent and said you have the deposit just take that.

so that leaves you with damages that the deposit should have covered..  tenants they are slippery cast of characters at least the ones that are lifers.. :)   

@Jay Hinrichs your not supposed to on the tenant side. But the landlord can except it as that if so chosen. I'd hold her to the lease and keep her there. Advise her she can move once a new tenant is placed. Here in Cleveland I can have my unit filled quick. Mark my words one way or another she will move on her own. So it's best to control the situation than be surprised

@Mal K. I wouldn't get too involved with the details of the robbery with the tenant. If they want to file a police report and do an investigation, it's up to them. As the landlord, you need to make sure the property is secure and no damage was made. If there was damage to the home, then you can also file a police report. Regarding threats to the tenant, that is something they need to bring up with the police. Could be an issue you're unaware of. Good luck!! 

@Jay Hinrichs I've probably been through 1,000 tenants and really never had that bad of damages. But you cant stop them from saying "use my deposit as last month's rent" That's why I'm saying control the situation by the examples I gave. Or the landlord will one day see a vacant unit or she'll pull the deposit for last months rent tactic. Control the situation
Originally posted by @Frank Wolter :
@Jay Hinrichs your not supposed to on the tenant side. But the landlord can except it as that if so chosen. I'd hold her to the lease and keep her there. Advise her she can move once a new tenant is placed. Here in Cleveland I can have my unit filled quick. Mark my words one way or another she will move on her own. So it's best to control the situation than be surprised

 ya that's what I thought.. friend of mine here in Oregon manages about 8k doors and I was asking him how that all worked and they have a separate deposit account and it cannot be touched or advanced for rent only damages..  I suspect in the states were you have to be licensed to manage properties the laws probably run pretty much the same way.

I know in some other areas of the country I work.. the owners take the deposit and its gone day one.. the tenant NEVER expects it back.. I always kind of cringe about that one.. but its not me and not my business I am just the short term funder its their deals.. 

Originally posted by @Frank Wolter :
@Jay Hinrichs I've probably been through 1,000 tenants and really never had that bad of damages. But you cant stop them from saying "use my deposit as last month's rent" That's why I'm saying control the situation by the examples I gave. Or the landlord will one day see a vacant unit or she'll pull the deposit for last months rent tactic. Control the situation

so I have sold all my rentals in the last 4 years I had 350 plus doors.. in a few states.. and we never could get in front of the use my deposit for the last months rent.. How do you do it.  ???  rents due on the 1st late on the 5th they are moving end of month they don't pay.. what do you do ??  we just sucked it up.. and I got fed up with that business been in  it long enough so my solution was to cash out at what I perceived a economic top.. at least for me who is on a back side of investing career.. at least as it relates to rentals..  

Originally posted by @Frank Wolter :
@Jay Hinrichs I've probably been through 1,000 tenants and really never had that bad of damages. But you cant stop them from saying "use my deposit as last month's rent" That's why I'm saying control the situation by the examples I gave. Or the landlord will one day see a vacant unit or she'll pull the deposit for last months rent tactic. Control the situation

Ya I cant say the same I have had everything under the sun.. I had a brand new construction home I bought 200k and the tenant for some reason totally destroyed it.. now it was so bad that the insurance company covered it and went after the guy criminally.. but it was over 40k in damages.. but lots and lots of stolen items stripped items.. contractors stealing .. its a challenge and one that I think 

is best suited for someone like you who lives there and watchs them like a hawk and with your background that is a HUGE bonus.

when I started funding turn key companies in Detroit in 02.. they had some pretty unique systems on the rehab side..  there was always a retired Police officer on site to check IDs .. no one went in without ID being presented .. this cut down thefts to almost nothing.

Just like your saying most of these thefts are done by someone known.. in this case it was the workers who just put that water heater in and then were coming back at night and stealing the friggin thing ..   I could write a book on this.. and actually I did for Aussie buyers they were getting totally hammered...by bad US operators and BAD Aussie salesmen.. selling them D and F class like it was A and B 

@Mal K. This could just be me being cynical toward people and their intentions, but this sounds completely staged. Criminals wouldn’t bust down a door alerting everyone to their whereabouts before they discreetly slipped through a window. This sounds like a domestic dispute between whomever was staying your unit while your renter was out of town, and now she’s covering her butt by saying it’s a security issue to avoid paying damages and keep her deposit. I tend to have a bleeding heart for my tenants and their situations, but this wouldn’t go farther than a shoulder shrug and replacing the door with me.

Update......Our tenants decided to stay at one of their family’s residence for the night after larceny (so we didn’t end up paying for a hotel). Next day we replaced their broken door, installed a keyless lock on the main door to the apartment complex and are going to install cameras this week (which we planned to do). I adviced my tenants they signed yearly lease and they are responsible for the rent until the apartment is rented out. We will return their full deposit once the unit is rented, only if there is no damage and their rent was paid according to the lease.

Originally posted by @Mal K. :

Update......Our tenants decided to stay at one of their family’s residence for the night after larceny (so we didn’t end up paying for a hotel). Next day we replaced their broken door, installed a keyless lock on the main door to the apartment complex and are going to install cameras this week (which we planned to do). I adviced my tenants they signed yearly lease and they are responsible for the rent until the apartment is rented out. We will return their full deposit once the unit is rented, only if there is no damage and their rent was paid according to the lease.

 You can't go down the slippery slope. Today they want to move because the apartment was broken into. Tomorrow it's because the car was broken into. Next week it's because the neighbors are mean.

We include an early termination fee in the lease for this stuff. You want to move? Fine this is the fee to do so. Some pay it and move. Some stay, heck some stay and end up renewing the lease. Some of these tenants are very impulsive. Just because they ask for something doesn't mean you should always accommodate. 

Originally posted by @James Wise :
Originally posted by @Mal K.:

Update......Our tenants decided to stay at one of their family’s residence for the night after larceny (so we didn’t end up paying for a hotel). Next day we replaced their broken door, installed a keyless lock on the main door to the apartment complex and are going to install cameras this week (which we planned to do). I adviced my tenants they signed yearly lease and they are responsible for the rent until the apartment is rented out. We will return their full deposit once the unit is rented, only if there is no damage and their rent was paid according to the lease.

 You can't go down the slippery slope. Today they want to move because the apartment was broken into. Tomorrow it's because the car was broken into. Next week it's because the neighbors are mean.

We include an early termination fee in the lease for this stuff. You want to move? Fine this is the fee to do so. Some pay it and move. Some stay, heck some stay and end up renewing the lease. Some of these tenants are very impulsive. Just because they ask for something doesn't mean you should always accommodate. 

What does your early termination fee look like? I have considered adding a fee like this, but I am trying to figure out how much fairly covers me.

Originally posted by @Joe Splitrock :
Originally posted by @James Wise:
Originally posted by @Mal K.:

Update......Our tenants decided to stay at one of their family’s residence for the night after larceny (so we didn’t end up paying for a hotel). Next day we replaced their broken door, installed a keyless lock on the main door to the apartment complex and are going to install cameras this week (which we planned to do). I adviced my tenants they signed yearly lease and they are responsible for the rent until the apartment is rented out. We will return their full deposit once the unit is rented, only if there is no damage and their rent was paid according to the lease.

 You can't go down the slippery slope. Today they want to move because the apartment was broken into. Tomorrow it's because the car was broken into. Next week it's because the neighbors are mean.

We include an early termination fee in the lease for this stuff. You want to move? Fine this is the fee to do so. Some pay it and move. Some stay, heck some stay and end up renewing the lease. Some of these tenants are very impulsive. Just because they ask for something doesn't mean you should always accommodate. 

What does your early termination fee look like? I have considered adding a fee like this, but I am trying to figure out how much fairly covers me.

 An amount equal to 2x their monthly rent.

I'm with @Rochelle G. on this one. My initial thought is that the cousin is probably involved somehow. Either they stole some stuff and staged a break-in, it was a domestic violence situation, or there are drugs involved. That's far more common than someone kicking in a door to steal stuff.

The law usually requires you to allow them to leave if they are in an unsafe situation. However, I won't even consider that if they aren't willing to file a police report. 

By the way, the tenant is fully responsible for the damages unless they file a police report.

Yeah that Sounds like drug related issues or crazy boyfriend . I wouldn’t even want that tenant . Id allow them to leave and take all their crap but I’d keep their deposit and make them sign a waiver they are giving up tenancy and understand they are forfeiting the deposit . In my eyes keeping them around is going to attract more property damage and potential problems . I’d rather be done with people like that and move on than wait around crossing my fingers that my property isn’t getting trashed

I will definitely add early termination fee. That is a great idea! Who is responsible to cover broken front door and a bedroom door? They (tenants) didn’t file charges against people that broke into the apartment. 

I’m trying to minimize any future issues. My thoughts are if I terminate their lease early (have them sign a release form) once I find a qualify tenant it will be a win win for both of us. 

I had tenants here in CA that wanted to break the lease and leave early due to the couple breaking up. They were not the best tenants and I was okay to see them go. I told them Id keep their deposit to cover vacancy. I wasnt worried about damages cause the place needed paint and carpet refresh anyway. They were happy to just be let off the hook without other liability and had no expectations of return of deposit so in the end all were happy.