Concerns for criminal activity by tenant

3 Replies

I have a 3 unit property in Southern California. Recently I was informed that the police had come to the property looking for the son of one of the tenants. Naturally the other tenants are very concerned about safety as am I. I don’t know what it was about but the police told the other tenants to stay away from him. However, when I asked the mother about it, she just said that he witnessed something and wanted a statement from him. I’m worried she may just be covering up for him. She is very nice and has had good communication however, she has been late on the rent several times. Fortunately she always paid the late fee without having to be prompted or reminded. Another problem is the tenants complain about the high school friends of her kids coming over playing loud music. Basically the mother seems to be a decent tenant but her kids are the main problem. She isn’t home much because she is a single mother and works like crazy to make ends meet. I want to help her out by letting her stay but I don’t know what I can do about the kids. I am also considering not renewing her lease when the year is up because the other 2 tenants are excellent so I would hate to lose them over this. Legally, how can I evict her based upon the above details, if that is even possible?

@Rona Kinney, it really depends how your lease is structured and state specific laws. I know that California is not a landlord friendly state so the rules maybe different. 

In Memphis, you can't really legally evict someone for having troublesome kids, but if they were multiple noise violations and that tenant is becoming a burden on the peaceful enjoyment of others then maybe you have some room there. I think it would be hard to prove unless you have police reports from noise violations. 

You can always talk to your tenant and see if they would leave willingly by offering some sort of cash for keys. Usually this is also more cost effective then filling an eviction. 

I know that unruly tenants like this can be a pain but I don't think you have much legal recourse here, but best to talk to a local real estate attorney!

@Stephen Akindona is right on above. Since I'm in California, I will address some details below.

If your property is in a rent-controlled city, then may not be able to evict unless the tenant is "at-fault". This includes not paying rent, a violation of the lease, interfering with other tenants' or neighbors' quiet enjoyment, damaging the property, using the rental for illegal purposes, and a few other less prevalent reasons.

In your situation for the case of eviction due to interfering with quiet enjoyment, you may need to send at least one notice to cure or quit and then get multiple police reports and statements from neighbors. This process may be complicated and take a long time, and getting an eviction may be very difficult at the end of the day.

If your property does not fall under rent control, then you may simply choose to not renew her lease when it expires. If it is expired and tenancy is month-to-month, you can terminate tenancy with a proper 60 day notice (30 day notice if the tenant has rented less than 1 year).

My suggestion is communicate with the tenant first and try to resolve any existing issues. Without making any threats or ultimatums, you may be able to get her to understand that her continued tenancy may depend on how well her kids behave, then actually do something about it.

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