Tenant changing locks

66 Replies

Hey BP

I have a tenant that took it upon herself to changes the locks to my property. She’s been unresponsive, I’ve called, texted, mailed went up to the property and still unresponsive. She is in violation of her lease by doing this which I’ve told her before. Her lease is up in October and I will be giving her a 30day notice.

What can or should I do in the interim?

This is taking place in the stare of CT.

I'd go to the local magistrates office and see if you can file for eviction without delay. Technically, the tenant has damaged the property and broken the lease (I'm hoping your lease mentions something about changing hardware/locks). 

In Pennsylvania (where I mostly invest), the eviction process wait is longer for unpaid rent than it is for damaged property - I'm hoping CT is the same. 

Originally posted by @Michael Noto :

@Karl B. That’s interesting. The easier path to an eviction here in CT is for non payment of rent. Evicting for a lease violation or lapse of time takes a lot longer typically. 

I had my first eviction on the 5th for non-payment. Although the money judgement was in my favor the judge said I'd need to wait 11 days to file further paperwork for the constable to remove the tenant. He said if I had shown damage to the property/a lease violation I could have had them out sooner. 

The tenant claims he'll be paying up Friday - we shall see.  

 

@Karen Jackson   Send her a registered letter saying that changing the locks and not giving you a copy of the key is a violation of the lease and give her notice to give you a copy within a set amount of time.  If you need emergency access, bill her for the damage to the door.

How did you find out she changed the locks?  

Originally posted by @Dennis M. :

@Karl B.

Sorry to hear that Karl

No worries. They say if you're a landlord long enough it's bound to happen. 

 

@Theresa Harris I gave her advance notice that an exterminator was coming. She didn’t answer the door so I tried my key to let him in to do the service and my key didn’t work. And I have in the lease if workmen have to do a job and no one answers I will enter the apartment.

I would send her a certified letter saying you are doing an inspection and give her 24 hours notice. Then I would show up with a locksmith and change the locks. Your lease should have some language about that . 

Originally posted by @Karen Jackson :

@Theresa Harris I gave her advance notice that an exterminator was coming. She didn’t answer the door so I tried my key to let him in to do the service and my key didn’t work. And I have in the lease if workmen have to do a job and no one answers I will enter the apartment.

 Makes sense.  I'd give her notice that you are having the locks rekeyed at her expense unless she provides you with a copy of the key.  I wouldn't even offer to pay the few dollars it costs to have a key cut, since this is all her doing.

I put kwikset smartkey landlord control locks on all my doors. Tenants would be billed the cost of changing back locks. I'd post a 24 hour notice of inspection and lock change on her door and change my locks back-- leave her a note. She'll call you when she needs in.

Originally posted by @Jill F. :
I put kwikset smartkey landlord control locks on all my doors. Tenants would be billed the cost of changing back locks. I'd post a 24 hour notice of inspection and lock change on her door and change my locks back-- leave her a note. She'll call you when she needs in.

That’s great 

 

Originally posted by @Karen Jackson :

@Anthony Rosa how do I ensure she pays this? Even with a notice. I can’t deduct it from the rent cause section 8 pays the rent in full.

Contact Section 8. If they're good, they'll mail her a letter. I have a Section 8 tenant who claimed she'd tow the upstairs tenants' car if he parked in the driveway and I had Section 8 mail her a letter telling her if she did so she'd risk a lawsuit as well as risk losing her Section 8 voucher. 

Let Section 8 know about the bill as well. Submit any money owed (it may need to be a court judgement) to the local Section 8 office. Tenants on Section 8 cannot owe money on a landlord-tenant judgement and move into a new Section 8 property.

 

@Karl B. That’s good to know. I’ll give that a try. But when I contacted her case worker about the matter in addition to other things. The caseworker said sorry we don’t get involved in that that’s landlord tenant issues. We only get involved for non payment of rent

Originally posted by @Karen Jackson :

@Karl B. That’s good to know. I’ll give that a try. But when I contacted her case worker about the matter in addition to other things. The caseworker said sorry we don’t get involved in that that’s landlord tenant issues. We only get involved for non payment of rent

Apply the payment you have received to the fee for the exterminator (and the fee for hiring a locksmith to change the locks back). Then the section 8 payment will be partial, not in full, and subject to late fee. Then contact the section 8 office about the partial rent payment. 

 

Originally posted by @Karen Jackson :

@Anthony Rosa how do I ensure she pays this? Even with a notice. I can’t deduct it from the rent cause section 8 pays the rent in full.

Karen, who paid for her changing the locks? If the exterminator billed you for a no access then bill her. You can't ensure she pays you, according to the state she's broke. 

 

@Anthony Rosa it sure isn’t! I’m going through it with this lady. And today is her section 8 inspection and she insisted on texting me that I don’t have to come it’s not necessary. I’m going to be there because at this point something suspicious is going on. Why wouldn’t you want me to be there in addition to changing the locks and not wanting to give me a copy and avoiding me. It isn’t easy forreal!!

@Karen Jackson Oh so sorry to hear this. You definitely want to be there during the inspection!

Also, you want to use that opportunity to serve her an eviction notice by hand and start the process asap. In addition, you probably want to get yourself ready for some CapEx as the turnover costs may be higher than normal.

Good luck on this issue and keep us updated! 🤗

Originally posted by @Karen Jackson :

@Anthony Rosa it sure isn’t! I’m going through it with this lady. And today is her section 8 inspection and she insisted on texting me that I don’t have to come it’s not necessary. I’m going to be there because at this point something suspicious is going on. Why wouldn’t you want me to be there in addition to changing the locks and not wanting to give me a copy and avoiding me. It isn’t easy forreal!!

Good idea to be there! It's your place. It's also goid to know the section 8 caseworker and ask a lot of what if questions. Where in NYC is your property?