Tenant problems, looking for advice

9 Replies

So I'm a new investor located in Michigan and I purchased my first 4plex about two months ago and one of my four tenants has been a pain on every level and I would like to hear what you guys think I should or shouldn't do in these situations. So the tenant is claiming in harassing her because I was doing some maintenance in the basement of the property and had to hamer two nails. So she was basically upset over a couple seconds of hammering Wich to me would only be worth complaining about if it was alot more than just that. The tenant also says that I'm harassing her be walking in front of her window. To get to the the last two units on the property I have to walk around the building and she is not understanding one bit despite me telling her that we were repairing gutters on the back of the property. I would agree with her if it was a daily issue but it has only been like 10 times in the two months I had to walk to the back of the house for maintenance of some sort. I know I must give 24 hour notice I'm my state for entering the tenants apartment but she seems to think she owns the grass in front of her unit and that's part of the reason she is complaining. She also thinks that anytime I'm on the property I need to give notice to her. I read the laws and I believe that being it's a multifamily and not a single family home then I don't have to give notice to any tenants for just arriving and doing repairs on the outside of the property. I am trying to work with this tenant but she is being very unreasonable and keeps talking about getting a lawyer and such. She is currently on a month to month lease and I'm debating giving her a 30 day notice to get out because of all the unnecessary stress. I'm also thinking about sending her a email saying that if she threatens to sue me again I will have her evicted but I wasn't sure if that is the best way to do that. I feel like I'm just doing my job and doing things correctly, if you guys think I'm doing something incorrectly or breaking the law in any way or have any ideas on what I should do about all of this and who is correct in these situations I'm dealing I would love to hear all your opinions. Thanks in advance

As it is a multi unit and you are working in the common areas, you shouldn't have to give notice.  If you are working on gutters, meaning you will be close to some windows-especially if they are not ground floor units where people may walk by, I would let them know so they don't panic when they see a person outside their second story window.

You can also let all the tenants know that you will be doing repairs and maintenance to the outside of the building and the common area over the next month as a blanket statement.  If for any reason you need to enter their unit, proper 24 hour's notice will be given.  That should remind her that her unit is her's and the rest isn't.

If she was on a lease, you could invoke the 'happy clause' and tell her it sounds like she's not happy and let her get out of her lease, but as she's month to month she can give notice and move.

@Justin Butterfield It would be wise to speak to a real estate attorney and have them draw up a letter to the tenant. Landlord and tenant disputes can be tricky. You do have a right to repair issues within your property but you also want to make sure you are not invading the tenants space if that's what she claims. Paying a real estate attorney for advice is money well spent. Good luck!

From my perspective you should be considering her complaints as petty issues. You should not be stressing over it, you should be explaining your rights as a landlord and continuing to go about your business. When you explain to her that she is free to give notice to move if she wishes you may see a change in her attitude. She is simply one of those overly entitled indivulaes that believes in controlling other people. You need to draw a line in the sand and make it crystal clear as to whose property it is and who is in charge. For me this would be a tenant that would not likely be staying very long if she did not adjust her attitude but I would not be threatening her or terminating her lease just yet. I would be attempting to train her to be a good respectful tenant before I gave up on her. You are operating a business and you always need to keep in mind that what tenants say and do comes with the territory. Leave your emotions at home, there is no place for them in business. You never let anything a tenant does effect you emotionally, all business, no emotions.

She is a inherited tennat that may not work out but for you the key to successful managing is the ignore button. This type of s**t needs to roll off your back like water off a duck if not you will be taking issue home with you, that should never happen aside from laughing about dumb things tenants say and do. There are many things to learn, first your response to tenant requests is either NO or I'll think about it followed by No and you need to develop thicker skin to be able to ignore these  petty issues. With only two months in business you have plenty to learn, you need to realise people are A holes and that you are the one in charge.

This tenant is nothing more than a very minor annoyance to be ignored at this time. Adjust your attitude and approach to a professional business level. You need to prepare yourself for when you have real tenant issues.

You have already been studying your state regulations, this puts you miles ahead of most new investors since they usually never bother. Keep reading and learning your rights and you will be fine. When you know you are within your rights you are in control. No lawyers required. This is not rocket science it is one of the most basic and simple businesses around. Know your rights and your tenants rights and you will be fine assuming you always leave your emotions at home. And remember to duck when one takes a swing at you (unless you want one to assault you). Been there done that multiple times. 

What?  The tenant mentioned the "L" word (lawyer)?  And the "S" word (suit)?  My response is:  "have your lawyer contact us directly.  Since you are being represented by counsel, all further communication must be in writing". 

After that, I would serve her notice.  Fear no tenant!

PS:  Stop peeping into her windows.  LOL.

While I understand your right to enter common areas without notice, 10 times in 2 months with no notice is a bit much, especially if you're hammering, working around their windows, etc.  I know I'd feel creeped-out if my new landlord seemed to always be hovering, and a few times a week each week feels like hovering.  Moving forward, unless it's an emergency, try to combine most maintenance items into several days and send or post a blanket notice stating "building/yard maintenance to be done 5/2 - 5/5; will post 24-hr notice on door if access to specific unit is required"  I have single family detached, so others might have a better answer, but I plan maintenance and send notice to the 3 that are in the same area about a week or more in advance, letting them know I will also inspect their unit on 1st day of that time period, and they can request items inside their unit or leave a list and we will try to take care of it while there.  Seems to work well for all.     

I agree with the above. You should give notice of the planned maintenance. However, notwithstanding your minor mistake, this tenant  is month to month - and a complainer and threatening legal action over nothing.  With the weather breaking she will also talk to your other tenants. You are about to be overrun. Raise her rent and get her out.  Life is too short to put up with unreasonable tenants.     

I would never give notice when working on common areas. It would be a royal pain in the butt to have to plan that far ahead. Once your tenants get to know you and you catch up on your work load everything will quiet down. You have better things to do with your time than send out unnecessary notices, A notice is like asking permission. Tenants are not special people, I do not cater to them.