Tenant we'd like gone

22 Replies

Hey all,

We bought a house in the spring with a tenant who has been in the house for about 8 years. He is a bit older, has a good job but we've had quite a few headaches since taking over the house.

The biggest one is that we keep getting blight notices for him not taking care of the property in a pretty strict community. One just lead to a misdemeanor ticket which i'm being summoned to court.

Another is he's complaining about his furnace not being efficient enough and threatens to leave.

Called demanding an electrician to ground his wires because his cable box fried from not being on a surge protector, threatens to leave

We increased his rent slightly when we purchased it, which is still $200+ under market, threatens to leave.

He's paid every month but is always a week or two late and claims it's insurance related getting back paid. When we took over the home we were of course told he'd never been late but once or twice in 8 years.

The empty threats to leave don't really bother me. We try to be fair as possible and have made improvements to the home to make him more comfortable. What does bother us is the blight notices and what could happen now when it snows... I can't keep fighting tickets all winter and dealing with trying to get him to repay them on top.

The only idea I had without going completely through the court to get rid of him is pull out a 30 day notice agreement to move. I'm sure he'll toss another threat my way, in which I would happily hand him the option.

What are the communities thoughts/suggestions? 

The most important aspect of REI is not the location or the house, it's who you place there.

If you want him out, get him out.  I ignore Detroit's ordinances, but in Chicago, I can issue 10-day notice, if they don't correct the issue, I cancel the lease.  If they don't have a Lease, I could issue a 30 day notice to vacate.  I give people more time than that, 30 days is not sufficient. 

Maybe you could wait until spring when you have a much better pool of tenants. You could also bring his rent to market or above market; this way you will justify the headaches. 

When is the term of his lease actually up?  How easy do you think it would be to find a new tenant for this property in your market?

I have purchased two duplexes in the last two years, each with existing tenants. You've put a lot of work and money into this house already, with a little more work you can have an excellent tenant without the headaches.  

I am far from the most experienced voice on this forum, but I would get him out as soon as possible if you think you can replace him.  He can be asked to leave based on late payments or the blight notices, but check your lease to see what's allowed. Then, I would raise the rent and hire a gardener/snow removal person, or whomever is needed to maintain the property according to the community standards. Advertise this as a benefit to your new tenant.  Have your furnace serviced and replace the filter, just in case. You should have had a thorough inspection of the heating and electrical systems when you bought the house, so you already have information that could verify his claims.

Comfortable tenants aren't always the best tenants! Good luck.

Yea, ideally i'd like to wait until spring for the greater pool of tenants. It's a great house in a great safe location where comps are getting a few hundred more a month. The 30 day notice to vacate might be what we are looking for. 

His lease has been up for years I think. The last home owner let him go month to month and had a property manager dealing with him. 

Raising the rent and adding it as maintenance isn't a bad idea. .. that way I can make sure it get's done, at least until spring. 

Originally posted by @James S. :

Yea, ideally i'd like to wait until spring for the greater pool of tenants. It's a great house in a great safe location where comps are getting a few hundred more a month. The 30 day notice to vacate might be what we are looking for. 

His lease has been up for years I think. The last home owner let him go month to month and had a property manager dealing with him. 

Raising the rent and adding it as maintenance isn't a bad idea. .. that way I can make sure it get's done, at least until spring. 

If he doesn't have a lease, check your local ordinance. The last thing you need is a tenant-friendly attorney hunting you. Is it 30 days, 45 days, two months or maybe you can't get him out. Be careful. Do you have a local REIA in your area? Talk to a rental company, they may help.

A few months without rental income is fine and should be expected (vacancy), use that time to clean up the place paint, cabinets, LED lights, etc. and get more money.  Money doesn't justify annoying tenants - well, sometimes it does.  

Good luck, 


@James S.

Wait. You don’t even know if he has a lease? Or if it’s up? Dude, how long have you been allowing an inherited tenant to live in your property without a lease?

You need to either give notice immediately for him to move, give notice to have him sign your lease (at market rate rent), or be prepared to keep putting up with his nonsense. My vote: get him out. Now.

@Anthony Wick He had a lease, it expired at least a year before we took over... How long before exactly, I don't recall off hand... but they let him go month to month without resigning. I've handed him our lease with the initial upped rent and he gave me a verbal 30 days... it's been 6 months...hasn't moved or signed but keeps paying rent. 

I spoke to the city and they said they've cited over 20 blight warnings before we took over. They want him out too. 

I'm going to talk with him about moving out into an apartment or something with less to maintain. Rents going up regardless... 

@James S.

Your being way too nice . Verbal notices ? You gotta get stuff in writing . Give him a non renewal or evict him . Don’t wait around . Believing be stories and Waiting around in this business costs so many landlords thousands and thousands of dollars

You are being too nice and have let this drag on too long before ripping the band aid off

Since his lease expired he in on a M2M..... serve him the proper notice to terminate.....usually 30 or 60 days depending on your state etc.

Get your ducks in a row to evict him if he doesn't move out after that notice.....during that "waiting period" study the steps for eviction and/or get a lawyer lined up....

Get your plans laid out for any work that needs to be done....contractors, materials, finances...so that the turn can be as quick as possible....

The only reason to stall on any of these steps is if you feel that time of the year is really going to screw you over and create a lengthy vacancy.....much longer than the turn over/repairs/maintenance time......

Time to rip the band aid off .......

@James S. You are being a pushover. Stop doing that if you want to be a successful landlord. Find out what the rental laws are for your town and follow them to get him out. Usually you have to serve written notice that he has to leave, often 30 or 60 days is required. After you serve him notice, if he does not leave, then you will likely need to take him to court. Follow through with that and get him out. Then clean up the place and find a more suitable tenant whom you screen. Make sure that property maintenance is part of the lease or raise the rent enough to pay someone to take care of the property.

@James S. you're making a lot of mistakes and are fortunate this hasn't already cost you thousands.

You gave him a written lease and told him he had 30 days to sign...but it's been six months.

He complains and threatens to leave.

He demands improvements to the property.

He doesn't take care of the property.

Not everyone is cut out to be a Landlord. Some people have the skills but not the education. I'm not sure which category you fall into but your lack of ability to Landlord is killing you.

You said he's $200 below market. That's $2,400 a year lost because you can't figure out how to get rid of him and bring things to market rent. At the same time, he's stressing you out, wasting your time, and ticking off the entire community. Even with all your issues and all our advice, your current plan is to "talk with him" as if he's a reasonable person!

The tenant is not the problem; you are. Stop thinking you can dig your way out of the hole. You need to hire a professional that can get rid of this guy, turn your property around, take the stress out of your life, and put more money in your pocket.

You can start by going to www.narpm.org to search their directory of managers. These are professionals with additional training and a stricter code of ethics. It's no guarantee but it's a good place to start. Regardless of how you find them, try to interview at least three managers

1. Ask how many units they manage and how much experience they have. If it's a larger organization, feel free to inquire about their different staff qualifications.

2. Review their management agreement. Make sure it explicitly explains the process for termination if you are unhappy with their services, but especially if they violate the terms of your agreement.

3. Understand the fees involved and calculate the total cost for an entire year of management so you can compare the different managers. It may sound nice to pay a 5% management fee but the extra fees can add up to be more than the other company that charges 10% with no add-on fees. Fees should be clearly stated, easy to understand, and justifiable. If you ask the manager to justify a fee and he starts hemming and hawing, move on or require them to remove the fee. Don't be afraid to negotiate!

4. Review their lease agreement and addenda. Think of all the things that could go wrong and see if the lease addresses them: unauthorized pets or tenants, early termination, security deposit, lease violations, late rent, eviction, lawn maintenance, parking, etc.

5. Don't just read the lease! Ask the manager to explain their process for dealing with maintenance, late rent, evictions, turnover, etc. If they are professional, they can explain this quickly and easily. If they are VERY professional, they will have their processes in writing as verification that it is enforced equally and fairly by their entire staff.

6. Ask to speak with some of their current owners and current/former tenants. You can also check their reviews online at Google, Facebook, or Yelp. Just remember: most negative reviews are written by problematic tenants. The fact they are complaining online might be an indication the property manager dealt with them properly so be sure to ask the manager for their side of the story.

7. Look at their marketing strategy. Are they doing everything they can to expose properties to the widest possible market? Are their listings detailed with good quality photos? Can they prove how long it takes to rent a vacant property?

This isn't inclusive but should give you a good start. If you have specific questions about property management, I'll be happy to help!

Originally posted by @James S. :

@Anthony Wick He had a lease, it expired at least a year before we took over... How long before exactly, I don't recall off hand... but they let him go month to month without resigning. I've handed him our lease with the initial upped rent and he gave me a verbal 30 days... it's been 6 months...hasn't moved or signed but keeps paying rent. 

I spoke to the city and they said they've cited over 20 blight warnings before we took over. They want him out too. 

I'm going to talk with him about moving out into an apartment or something with less to maintain. Rents going up regardless... 

James, good luck with this. 

One thing popped up.

"You gave him a written lease and told him he had 30 days to sign...but it's been six months."

Did you signed that paper? If so, he may have an executed Lease. You simply don't have a copy. 

In that case, you have to recognize the Lease.

Check "Landlord on Autopilot", treat them like an employee, you don't work for them. 

Good luck, 


Frank

 

@Frank S.

Thanks Frank. To clarify: He gave me his 30 days notice to vacate verbally when we handed him the lease with the increase of rent. 

I thought about that over the weekend actually. He does have a copy of the lease with our signature that he hasn't returned which if we did try to evict or raise rent, he could sign and use it to protect himself. I guess the bright side of that is that it would get us through the winter to have a better tenant pool. 

Regardless, i'm having a conversation with him this week to start moving this along. We will think long and hard before absorbing another tenant with a property. However, we've also noticed the best deals are tenant occupied. Once this one is to market value, we'll go from 1.4% to 1.8% PP in rent... which is hard to do these days (just got another empty house under contract which we should get 1.5% max).

@James S. here is a great opportunity to learn a few very valuable lessons. First, don’t ever hand a tenant a pre-signed lease. Always make them sign first. Second, if they give a verbal notice, send them a written notice of non-renewal dated with the legal time frame for said notice and have them sign it and send it back. Finally, if you buy a property with a pre-existing tenant make them re-qualify under your standards immediately. If they refuse or fail issue notice of non-renewal immediately.

Sounds like a headache.  Next time he threatens to leave, call his bluff.  Tell him yes, you can leave.  End of the month.  He will likely do a complete 180.  He's been there for 8 years and is constantly pushing the envelope.  

@Janet Orgill I had a very stern talk with him, got the lease signed finally (which was still dated to exp. March 2020) and told him 1 more blight notice he's gone. After that he's paid early, no excuses and has been pretty easy to deal with thus far. 

We bought 2 more houses in Nov/Dec. that needed a lot of fixing. Our option was get him out and rehab and have vacancy or buy more houses (our resources and time are limited). So we decided if he continued being reasonable while we flip and rent those out (already completed) we wouldn't shake the tree further. Once he's out, we'll likely do a heavy rehab on that house to get it up to standard with our other rentals. 


Thanks for following up!