Dealing with new tenants after moving in

9 Replies

Asking for some input!

I just bought my first duplex 4 days ago and having some issues with the tenants that I inherited. It showed on the lease that only one women was on it and could only have someone stay over seven nights per month. Three days after I bought it, her boyfriends sister is now moving without telling me. I have been trying to get a hold of the tenant but they are blowing me off.

Should I go over there and kick them out? Do I write up a new lease saying that three people can live there but they all have to be on a lease and then raise the rent on them? Do I call the police if someone is living on my property without signing a lease?

Thanks in advice for any help!

I would evict them for violating the lease. It will help to have some sort of proof to show the judge at the eviction hearing proving there are additional people living in the apartment (such as photos of the boyfriend and sisters cars parked outside of the building in the early morning hours along with photos of the license plate of each car).

It starts and ends with the lease. To answer your specific questions:

1. No, you most likely can't just kick them out yourself without going through eviction proceedings
2. This question goes back to what your original lease says. But if you'd like to add them as additional tenants and the lease hasn't expired, an amendment to the original lease should be fine.
3. Police can't do anything without eviction paperwork most likely, so you'll most likely have to go through eviction proceedings. 

The specifics of what you can and can't do are both lease specific and state law specific. My advise is general, but should give you somewhat of a starting point. Hope this helps.

Immediately give them a 3 day notice to remove the extra people themselves.  If they do not comply evict.

If you change the lease to accommodate a lease violation, you are encouraging more violations in the future.  And never add a person to a lease you have not vetted!

@Tyler Minkel you should touch base with a local real estate attorney. In this business you will need that relationship at some point either way. Whenever I have a tenant going off the rails I immediately reach out to the attorney I use so that I know I am complying with the law. Inherited tenants can be tough as you don't really know what you are getting into. You are lucky you have leases as most of the deals I have closed on recently have had no leases in place when I took over. 

In ohio, it is tough to evict except in case they haven't paid rent. If you have the guts for it I would go hang out on their doorstep and talk with everyone who comes along. Be nice even to the point of being creepy. That approach should get results, but you gotta stay long enough to get some action.

The advice you've been given above is far too severe in many cases. You've owned the building for four days and already talking about evicting a tenant for adding an unwarranted occupant? The first things you need to ask yourself are the following:

- How much due diligence did you do with the tenants in advance, prior to closing to establish a rapport with them and to go over what the new procedures will be?

- Per others above, what does the lease allow and how long is that lease good for?

- Is this really a big deal? If it's a one-bedroom you may have fire hazard remedies and code violations you could cite, but if it's a two-bedroom and there is room, is it a big deal if the tenants are good tenants who pay on time?

- What are you so worried about? In the rental game over your career, you will have 50% of tenants have an overstay guest or quasi-roommate that isn't on the lease. Is this against the lease, yes. But what if the person got kicked out of her house and needed a place to stay? What if they were escaping an abusive relationship? Before you start drawing up eviction paperwork, find out what the deal is.

Most errant new relationships between landlord-tenant start on the wrong foot because the new landlord didn't take the time to build a relationship before becoming the owner of the building. All tenants, when a duplex gets sold, think they are getting kicked out. Don't be so quick to push legal remedies as a landlord without more evidence. A bad tenant can ruin your unit so taking a first step to legalize the process on them won't win them over.

While definitely I agree that coming across as polite / civil / helpful can help solve many issues before they turn into blowups, someone who's playing "hard to get ahold of" while violating the lease before your eyes may require you to lay down the law. 

Based on the timing, they may have waited until now to do this because they knew the seller wouldn't put up with it.

Especially considering that it's an inherited tenant (and it's day four, and they're already dodging your calls), I wouldn't be too ready to accept any tale of woe they may tell you. If they want another person living there, that person can fill out an application like everyone else. 

@Tyler Minkel

Post a 3-day notice and they will probably start communicating with you ;)

I've gotten so immune to tenants not communicating and honoring lease agreements, that I post notices immediately. Most of the time, those resolve the situation.