Inherited tenant - parents living there refuse to sign a lease.

12 Replies

I just bought a duplex with an inherited tenant who is under market value in rent. She is paying $1,000 when the market value is $1500. I gave her a lease to sign that is month to month. The rent will stay at $1,000 for 3 months and then it will increase to $1,400. 

From what I know she has paid on time. The previous owners have had them in there and did trades for yard work in exchange for low rent. According to the tenant, a cupboard in the unit (before I owned it) fell on her and she is unable to work full time due to her injuries. What's more, her husband who was doing the yard work (and bringing in the money) for the previous landlord left her with nothing. She faints easily and her parents moved in because she can't be alone. 

When I went to have her sign the lease, she said she wanted to have her niece look at it. It's been about 4 days and I have heard nothing. I asked her if she had any questions, she said no. I said make sure to have everyone sign by Wed (1 week after giving her the lease). She has just informed me her parents will not sign because they are leaving in three months. I said to have them sign and we will make a new one in 3 months with only you since it's a month to month. She said sorry, they are not signing. 

So here's my question: Do I overlook it? Or do I make this the hill I die on? I'm worried if I overlook it, I will appear weak and she will do this with other things. I do feel bad for her and she's very nice but I am also not running a charity.

What makes it sticky is I live next door and see her all the time. And I think they are all illegal from Mexico. Her parents do not speak any English. Is there any liability on me with that?  

Finds he best eviction lawyer in the area. If you did not accept this as part of the purchase agreement, check with the lawyer as well. Really, get them out and note property condition first to put them on the hook for damages.

@Carly M.   Tell her all adults living in the unit need to be on the lease for insurance purposes and as her parents have moved in, her words, they need to be on the lease. Not to mention if her parents are moving in 3 months, what is she going to do then? 

@Carly M.

Do you need the money for 3-4 months?  Don’t resign them on a lease at all... any of them.  

Give them a X day (whatever your state requires) notice of non-renewal and get them moved out ASAP.  

Just from what you described you soon won’t be getting any money anyhow so it honestly doesn’t matter. If the only person living there is the woman who can’t work because of whatever reason how is she going to afford a 1,400 a month payment?

It’s better to rip the bandaid off now and just get it over with.  

Take it from me, I’ve tried the slow and nice approach, it doesn’t ever work out in YOUR favor.  

Get rid of them and put in a tenant who will pay and not try to negotiate terms. Stand firm, this is a business and so just run it like one.  

Also just as a cover your butt thing, don’t let tenants ever do work for rent on the property.  It doesn’t work out 99% of the time.  

Welcome to REI, isn't it wonderful. :)

@Carly M. I don’t know that you need to have the parents sign, but not sure if they are only there for 3 months if that is a legit give her a hand.

May want to speak to a lawyer about it or hand it to a property manager to have them deal with it. I think something may be fishy here

@Carly M.   I'd have a frank talk with her. On the one hand she says she can't afford it on her own because she can't work due to some permanent injury and isn't safe on her own due to her fainting.  Then she says they are moving out in 3 months.  What is going to change in those three months that will allow her to afford the rent and live on her own?

@Carly M. I am dealing with a similar situation at a six unit I purchased in Cicero, IL. Of the five tenants I offered leases to, none were willing to sign a lease. They are also a similar demographic to what you described, and I suspect there is a strong suspicion inbred into signing anything. I have run into the same issue with a very nice tenant that I inherited in a building in Berwyn. She took almost three weeks to sign a simple lease extension form. She waited until her son was back from college to translate it even though I had the form translated and presented in both English and Spanish. I also had an employee call her who speaks Spanish. 

This type of renter may very well be your life long renter that never moves out. The counterpoint to what others are saying on here is that these folks will consider the apartment there home. Vacancy is what kills your returns. If you can get her and her family paying closer to market rent, maybe they could be keepers. 

@Carly M. one option is to have just her sign the lease, then present her with a separate visitor addendum. The addendum will state that her parents are long time visitors who will leave by XX/XX/XXXX and have both her and her parents sign the addendum. Explain to her that your standard lease only allows visitors to stay for a maximum of 2 weeks, so the addendum is necessary any time she expects to have people stay longer. 

If she is unwilling to sign that kind of agreement, just notify her without a signed lease that there is no renewal. Give her 60 or 90 days to leave the property and send the notice certified mail. 

Give her a new lease, with the full increase to market rate.  Get ready to evict her for non-payment of rent.  The reason you have to give her the new lease now, with the increase to full market rate, is that non-payment of rent is the easiest eviction by far.  You want to have her miss paying rent, and then you can start the eviction process.  Once you start the eviction process, if she calls in the health department for supposed deficiencies in the unit, they're considered "retaliatory" and they don't stop the eviction.  Make sure you name her parents (John Doe and Jane Doe, if you don't know who they are).

Let's say you don't do this.  Let's say you tell her that in the future you will raise the rent.  Let's say that meanwhile, she makes some claim of defect in the unit to stave off rent increase or eviction.  You'll be stuck at that low rent level until you can get her out through the courts - the judge won't let you raise the rent on her during the time it takes to correct the deficiencies.

In addition to giving her the new lease right away with the full market rent on it, I suggest you DO offer her money to move right away, since it will be cheaper and quicker than the eviction.

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