Evict or stay? Alcoholic 60 year old woman who is harm to herself

32 Replies

Hi, I'll try to keep this short. We have had a 60 year old single female renter since 12/18. We have since found out that she is an alcoholic. Most recently, she was drunk and was yelling out the window that she was locked in a bedroom. We have no locks on the bedroom doors. She tried kicking the door outward- toward the hallway which is where the wood is located to stop the door. When she kicked the door, she jammed the door into the wood frame. All she had to do was pull the door toward her to get out but she was too drunk. She was vomiting & shaking. I called 911. We saw blood on her bed and throughout 2 bedrooms. She stated she fell the day before and busted her head on her dresser. She stated she fell down the steps previously. She has ruined numerous balusters from hanging onto them instead of the hand railing going down the steps. The house was messy with mail & clothes all over the floor, etc. She signed a 1 year lease stating that she has 2 dogs, when in fact, she has 3.  I'm guessing the dogs may have had some accidents in the house with the new carpeting since she is intoxicated and can't get up. We have pics of when she threw a bunch of whiskey bottles and carpeting out into the alley in front of the garage for the garbage men to pick up days later. I am terrified that we will find her terribly hurt or dead someday. Her heavy drinking is a daily occurrence. We chose her because we saw the sadness in her eyes. She went through some rough things and it sounded like she just needed a new start in life with hope. We weren't initially aware of her drinking. She is on autopay and also pays us to mow the grass. We haven't ever had a problem with rent. Should we send her a warning letter? Should we just wait and not renew her lease? Any suggestions are welcome. Thanks.

Ah the rub of being a landlord. 

Tough call but best to try to stick to the facts and not get caught up in the drama. But it is hard because people suffer and need help for sure. 

Not sure if you can investigate of getting her some emotional help or what not. 

Maybe we should send her a Notice to comply with lease agreement? She is littering in the yard/alley plus only saying she has 2 dogs instead of 3. We do charge a pet rent/per pet. She is also not keeping the home clean and she is breaking the balusters. Our MAIN concern is her getting seriously injured (or dying) in our rental home. 

@Kimberly M. You need to evict her now and probably hire a property manager.  Renting to someone because they have sad eyes will always lead to losses.  You are not doing her a favor by allowing this to continue.  

As long as she complies with the lease there’s not a good reason to evict . 

If she’s a loud nuisance and disturbs the peace then she’s not in compliance. I’m not sure she is . 

You can’t legally evict her based on how she treats , or mistreats herself . 

As with a lot of questions, your answers may depend to some degree on your local and state laws. I do not know PA, but I can relate examples in California. Alcoholism is considered to be a disability by the Fair Housing Act (federal government). That said, I'd like to refer to 2 different items in your post that may help you determine what you are able to do (at lease in CA).

1) Property damage: most leases will have regards to breach of lease if property is damaged. From your one example, a door getting kicked in and damaged balusters may not warrant eviction, but if damage continues and progressively worsens, you may have sufficient cause for eviction.

2) Significant nuisance to others: most leases will state that disturbing neighbors and other tenants may result in eviction. If this is the case and can be documented with police reports, this may also be cause for eviction.

Please understand that I am not advising eviction. My suggestion is to communicate with the tenant on an regular basis and see if you can determine if her ongoing tenancy is viable. In the meanwhile, document property damage, speak with neighbors and get copies of police reports. At some point, it may be clear that you may need to consult an attorney for eviction or it might be simpler to wait out and not renew as you point out.

@Kimberly M.

Why do you have so much information on this tenant? Sounds like you are being a therapist instead of a landlord....making it personal.

If she is paying rent on time that's all that matters. Stick to collecting rent and not being a therapist. Alcoholism is irrelevant in this situation.

Hi Kimberly,

"We chose her because we saw the sadness in her eyes".  Well now you know why she's sad, who wouldn't be with a life like that.

If it were me I'd ignore dog 3 because it isn't going to cause any more dog issues than dog 1 or dog 2, and just keep collecting the rent.

It's probably not a good idea to get involved in a tenants personal life. Alcohol is legal if she's over 21 and door replacement is par for the course with rentals.

Good Luck.

She's damaging your property and causing you to spend much more time thinking about a tenant than you should. I interact with my tenants 1-2 times a year MAX, besides normal billing & leasing through email. I'm not sure whether the cost of trying to evict is worth the benefit in the short term, I just would not renew her lease, for your own peace of mind. Do not rent to someone out of pity, this is a business, if you want to help people that are having a rough time, volunteer or donate some of the proceeds of your business.

@Kimberly M.

I’m sorry, like ive helped people in my life that I definitely shouldn’t have wasted my time but at 60 years what made you think you allowing her to rent was going to be the life changing thing she needed to get her life in order!

That’s just arrogant and naive, I am sorry, you need to hear that.

1. You don’t renew the lease. Under any circumstances...your house will continued to get destroyed.

2. Have some cash set aside for when she does move out. There is a good chance you’ll need more then just her security deposit to fix the damage/the dog damages

3. Have her comply with the lease or evict her breaking the terms of the lease and have the proper evidence and documentation for whatever legal reason you end up evicting her for because she will most definitely be irate and fight it.

If you do plan on staying a landlord, you need to understand that finding a good tenant can make or break your investment.

You want tenants that are responsible, level headed and not in a “situation” where they need you to rent to them so life will be ok.

My first time I rented to someone because I was using just my heart and bias and I got screwed over big time.(they met the income standard)

Renters can screw you and your property! They can create endless problems! I can list a 1000 things wrong that could happen renting to the wrong person!

Managing it isn’t as easy as some of these youtubers and RE gurus make it sound like

If you want to help people with sad eyes volunteer at a charity

@Bob B. We rented to her because she had the best scenario financially. She stated she was a clean freak (so not true). She was previously from TX and never rented so we weren't able to confirm. 

@Marci Stein Yes, she is bothering the neighbors on both sides. We will just have to document. Thank you for your response.

@Hubert Kim Thank you, this is good advice. We will have to do a thorough walk through of the house when we set that up with her to see if there is more damage. Yes, she is disturbing neighbors on both sides. We know both of the neighbors and they have told us. We will take your advice and communicate with her. Thanks.

@Jonathan Watt We had no idea of her history prior to renting to her. She was normal like any other applicant. She met the income requirements the best so that is why we chose her. We did not know her lifestyle. We did not smell alcohol on her. 

Since she met all of the requirements, we chose her as the best applicant. 

Thank you all for the advice. Maybe I should've left out that we now know she is an alcoholic and just stuck to the facts. FYI, we had no prior knowledge of her habits.

The facts are that she is slowly destroying our home. She is allowing 3 dogs to do their business inside the home (because she can't get up). She is throwing trash in the yard and alley. She is disturbing the neighbors. And lastly, we don't want to get sued if she injures herself from her own negligence. Thanks again. Your advice is helpful.

@Kimberly M. Get her out of there. Fix whatever she damaged, put some new paint on the walls and charge the next tenant a little more.

@Kimberly M.

First time I’ve ever heard of “sadness in eyes” as rental criteria.

After the first four sentences I read...I'd send her a notice. If the shenanigans continue...I'd waste no time in evicting. 

@Kimberly M. , this is going to be a few extra steps in the vetting process, but here goes....Next application you get you should cross reference past addresses with a website like www.familytreenow.com. It is free and will tell you any previous addresses they have had in any state they have lived in, along with the approximate dates. This data isn't 100% accurate, but it goes off of public records and I have found it extremely useful when screening tenants. If you want to get previous landlord references from places that were not listed on the application, you can Google the addresses and see if you can find a previous rental ad with a property management phone number or landlord phone number. It's not what people tell you...people will say anything to get a roof over their heads. It's what they don't tell you that you will want to find out. I have rented to some wacky people and have gotten more and more sluethy with each applicant. Good luck!

@Kimberly M. Eviction based on breaking the terms of the rental agreement. You will be bring more legal troubles if it’s not done properly.

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