Odd Situation with Tenants (I am the landlord)

18 Replies

So my tenants never moved in my house but they did put furniture in the house.  Seven days after the house was under contract I had water come into the home and I have not yet fixed the issue; however, they never moved in and actually started living in the property.  They stated the house is not safe to live in bc water can get into the home.  The water is currently dried up and I am working to get the property sealed.  The problem I am having is no residential contractor is guaranteeing they can fix the issue then contractors flake etc.

The tenants still want to be in the house which I find odd as I later found out water came into the garage and there is a lot of mold damage and I had another water restoration contractor removing the drywall and scrubbing the wood frame of the walls.  Despite all this they still want to move in.  They said since they never got to utilize the house in September they want to have their first month free.  I am finding myself having to take care of the property now bc the pool had turned green.

Truly I want out of the contract I tried to offer them a lucrative deal give them their deposit money back along with their first months rent plus money on top of both the first months rent and their deposit back.  They still want to rent and are telling me we want in there ever how long it takes you to fix all the issues.  Let us know when you have everything fixed.  Personally I would rather sell the property is in Texas with the cookie cutter Texas realty contract. 

Oh part of me wants to still have them as tenants part of me does not.  I have mixed emotions on this one of the pain points is the pool addendum has been complained upon several times which is annoying.  It states in the contract if I deem cleaning the skimmer to be a daily thing then well it is a daily thing it takes one minute to do.  They told me I need to pay someone to do that.  Tad bit annoying but on the other token often times they are sweet and nice then other times we have bumped heads.

You're creating your own drama.

I recommend you contact the tenants and tell them the house is not habitable and you don't know when it will be. They need to remove their belongings and the contract will terminate immediately.

Don't negotiate. Tell them you are refunding the rent and the deposit, period. 

Why do they insist on the keeping the home despite these problems? Probably because it's under-priced or they feel they can take advantage of you.

My attorney told me they have a lawsuit and I took that as play ball.  I don't know what to do really.  You are saying that if they and I agree the house is not habitable then I have the right to terminate contract?

Attorney said fix the problems and when they dont pay rent then call me and we will evict.  Property is not under priced they want it bad maybe bc you are right they feel they can take advantage she use to be a property manager so she definitely knows more than I do about all this.

You are saying that if they and I agree the house is not habitable then I have the right to terminate contract?

@Aaron W. I will let @Nathan G. speak for himself. IF that is what he meant I disagree with him. Just because it is expensive or a pain in the butt to fulfill a contract does not mean you get an out.  Of course you can talk tough and try to bluff them but I suspect you are in a weak legal position. 

Obviously I have little information to go on but my gut suspects they are game players and they think once they are in the house they will be able to leverage the problems and live there free for a long time.

How on earth could they live there for free I would think them saying the house is not habitable or something maybe then but I would say ok then move out and we part ways?  I have one other rental and I love that property no problems never and owned it for nearly a decade.  This one is an unorthodox rental it is a mansion 6000 sq ft etc but an older nice house that requires a lot of TLC

@Ned C. how does one get free rent claiming other problems with a house I would think this is only possible if there is a health hazard at the property but if they are claiming that then move out?  Rent is not negotiable and contracted as such.

I am new to property management but common sense goes a long way.

@Aaron W.   Section 92.054, Property Code governs the rights and obligations of the parties regarding a casualty loss to the Property.

Sec. 92.054. CASUALTY LOSS. (a) If a condition results from an insured casualty loss, such as fire, smoke, hail, explosion, or a similar cause, the period for repair does not begin until the landlord receives the insurance proceeds.

(b) If after a casualty loss the rental premises are as a practical matter totally unusable for residential purposes and if the casualty loss is not caused by the negligence or fault of the tenant, a member of the tenant's family, or a guest or invitee of the tenant, either the landlord or the tenant may terminate the lease by giving written notice to the other any time before repairs are completed. If the lease is terminated, the tenant is entitled only to a pro rata refund of rent from the date the tenant moves out and to a refund of any security deposit otherwise required by law.

(c) If after a casualty loss the rental premises are partially unusable for residential purposes and if the casualty loss is not caused by the negligence or fault of the tenant, a member of the tenant's family, or a guest or invitee of the tenant, the tenant is entitled to reduction in the rent in an amount proportionate to the extent the premises are unusable because of the casualty, but only on judgment of a county or district court. A landlord and tenant may agree otherwise in a written lease.

@John T.    if the residence is not usable for residential purpose doesn't the tenant have to vacate the premises if they are claiming this until the situation is remedy

I see you are from Montgomery County Texas.  I am newer to property management thanks for the reply to the post.

The problem I am having is no contractor can tell me how water is getting into my garage other than its coming in from the foundation but where?

Most leases used in Texas have a move in clause stating the tenant must move in within a certain time period of the contract can be voided by the landlord. If your lawyer is telling you to play ball then do what he says. He is a professional we are just a bunch of people on the internet. 

As for the water it is most likely a drainage issue. Some garages slope toward the house allowing water to get in. If the grade of the soil in any part of the building is toward the house you will have the same issue. On a slab foundation the soil should be 4-6 inches below the top of the concrete but if it is not, and the soil gets saturated one of two things (or both) happen. Either the water rises above the slab and gets in in between the siding and foundation or they hydraulic pressure of the water pushes up from the soil beneath the slab through the cracks in the foundation. What you need to do to fix this is a surface drain around the section of the building that lower than the house and divert it away. Catch boxes will be installed every 6-10 ft and the drain will have to run until it can get lower than the house where it releases the water through a pop up drain. They also make channel drains that you can install in existing concrete which you can put in at the transition between the garage and driveway. It is not cheap but it will fix the problem in most cases. 

@Aaron W. If you have water in the garage, is it from the Supply INPUT or Sewage OUTPUT? 

Easier to check INPUT first. 

1. Turn off all water faucets, including toilets, and water heater in the house. 

2. Go look at City Meter. 

3. If City Meter is turning - showing flow into the house, then you have some place in your system where water is escaping.  

4. If City Meter is NOT turning - showing NO flow into the house. GREAT!

Above troubleshooting doesn't mean you couldn't have both a Supply INPUT Issue, and a Sewage OUTPUT issue.

For Sewer System Leak, you'll need a plumber to do a Hydrostatic Test. 

1. Essentially, the plumber open a drain plug outside the house, and blocks the outlet line outside the house.

2. Fills the Sewage System Lines with water. 

3. Watches for the water level to drop. If water level does not drop - you do not have a sewage leak inside the house. 

4. If water level drops in the line, then you have a leak in the sewage OUTPUT System. 

5. To locate the break or breaks in the sewer lines, plumber will snake a Camera down the line. Most common sewer line issues are tree roots growing into the line, or on older properties cast iron pipes. 

Hope this helps. 

@Jim Cummings thanks for the recommendations I have it narrowed down to rainwater getting into the foundation at another area of the house.  I have had plumbers do pressure test

Updated over 2 years ago

oh forgot to mention this is from rain water

@Peter M. Big thanks for the recommendation on this now my tenant probably played me because I complained about this they moved furniture in and stayed one night.  They have not been here since.  The situation is kind of messed up.  We are back on good terms but I do think they could be problematic down the road again too many red flags the complaining about small simple pool upkeep task is enough.  The contract I have is a Texas Association of Realtors contract (TAR) the section you are talking about reads as follows.  They do have furniture here but only staying here one day and having furniture here does that designate occupancy?

The situation is even more twisted since we are back on better terms they have agreed to allow me to stay here until all the repairs are done.  I was reading through the contract and it is pretty screwed up the verbiage is I am an approved guest approved by the landlord which is myself guest myself landlord.

Delay of Occupancy: Tenant must occupy the Property within 5 days after the Commencement Date. If Tenant is

unable to occupy the Property by the 5th day after the Commencement Date because of construction on the

Property or a prior tenant's holding over of the Property, Tenant may terminate this lease by giving written notice

to Landlord before the Property becomes available to be occupied by Tenant, and Landlord will refund to Tenant

the security deposit and any rent paid. Landlord will abate rent on a daily basis for a delay caused by construction

or a prior tenant's holding over. This paragraph does not apply to any delay in occupancy caused by cleaning,

repairs, or make-ready items.

Originally posted by @Aaron W. :

@Ned C. how does one get free rent claiming other problems with a house I would think this is only possible if there is a health hazard at the property but if they are claiming that then move out?  Rent is not negotiable and contracted as such.

I am new to property management but common sense goes a long way.

 Oh boy, you haven't had a professional scammer/tenant. these people know the rules and can live rent free for a long time. 

Unfortunately since they moved furniture in I believe the court would see that as occupancy but you'd have to check with a lawyer. I don't understand the approved guest thing. The lease just says the guest has to be approved by the landlord if staying more than X number of days. You are the landlord so you approve yourself. 

Sounds like you will have your hands full with this tenant. Just follow the advice of your lawyer and get them out as soon as you legally can. This could end up being a very expensive lesson. 

Originally posted by @Ronald Rohde :
Originally posted by @Aaron W.:

@Ned C. how does one get free rent claiming other problems with a house I would think this is only possible if there is a health hazard at the property but if they are claiming that then move out?  Rent is not negotiable and contracted as such.

I am new to property management but common sense goes a long way.

 Oh boy, you haven't had a professional scammer/tenant. these people know the rules and can live rent free for a long time. 

 There have been a rash of people who are trying to sell recently rented properties.  Any chance that the new "tenants" are trying to "sell" the house?

I dont have the angle figured out, but it feels a lot like a scam of some sort to me. 

@Bart H.    not a chance I am living in here it is an  "odd situation"  trust me nothing like that is going on.  I am just going  to  fix  the place up let them rent if they are good tenants continue to rent.  My mind is made up, but thank goodness for this forum and the knowledge I have learned in such a short  time I am now a much more confident landlord in knowing and understanding the TAR contract as well as TAA and my rights etc

Also studying about tenant proofing.  How to deal with difficult tenants etc really love reading on this forum thank you to everything for your responses.  I also have a lawyer as an advisor that I may occasionally sit down with and pay $100 consults from time to time to ask legal questions the first meeting with this individual  is this coming Monday.

Currently, I feel the situation is much better  with the tenants the  situation  that is going in  is crappy for both of us with water coming into the house but I am constantly working on remediation of the situation.

@Aaron W. In most states the landlord is responsible for the property being habitable and for repairs.  As @John T. pointed out that may not be true in your situation in TX. 

My point is that if a problem tenant gets into the property, they can manipulate the system to their advantage. In many states a tenant can drag out an eviction for a very long time. 

I am new to property management but common sense goes a long way.

Knowing the law goes even farther. The law doesn't always make sense, but it always must be followed. Be thankful you are in a landlord friendly state instead of MD or CA.

@Ned Carey    Thanks I am learning for sure.  I own only one rental in Texas and one in Arkansas that I have owned for several years and up until this past year took over as the property manager.  I read Texas is the most friendly landlord state I guess maybe this is a matter of opinion.  Curious how friendly Arkansas is.

As a whole I know the state of Texas is friendly but I also heard that it depends on the county.  I heard Dallas county is not as landlord friendly as Tarrant County.