Sticky situation with tenants

4 Replies

Hi guys -

I made the classic mistake of taking people's word and not properly screening tenants - so now I have a situation going on. I've got an unmarried couple on a lease. They have broken up and some abuse has now gone on. The man had a restraining order placed against him from the woman, he came back to the house, and the police arrested him. He should be getting out of jail soon, but the woman has now gotten a second restraining order against him that is set to expire on December 14. She is nervous about him coming back again. He apparently doesn't want to leave, and neither does she. She wants me to get him off the lease or evict him. She's been good to work with and has been a great tenant otherwise. I spoke with a lawyer briefly today who recommends I should let things play out for now.

So I'm looking for advice on what to do. If I chose to evict I assume you cant just evict one and not the other.. Is there a way to cancel the lease if I could speak with the man and convince him to leave? Or just wait this out and hope that the man doesn't come back? Im just lost really. They've always paid and have been good but now we've got problems. I also have a single female tenant upstairs. Any advice? I'd really appreciate it I just don't know what to do.

Truthfully it's not your situation to solve. It's a civil matter. If she feels threatened she should leave. If they violate their lease you could evict, but if they are paying their rent then you should just let them take care of their own affairs. Odds are something will fall apart... someone will quit paying the rent, move out, etc. you will likely be out a month or two in rent once you resolve it, but then will go on and fix the unit and re-rent it. Hopefully your security deposit helps defer costs & expenses.

I would personally offer to terminate the lease if they want to move on (just as a courtesy). But unless you have an avenue forward within the terms of your lease to do something about it, you sit back and let them rent your property. The words, "I wish I could help, but it's a civil matter" should be your mantra. If they damage the property, etc, I would think you could probably have a cause of action if you have a descent lease.


Check your local laws. In many states this is the only exception (domestic violence) where you can remove somebody from the lease without permission or direct breach of the lease, and furthermore, may be REQUIRED TO if a restraining order is in place. You also may be REQUIRED to install new locks.

Again, check your local laws.

Another thought - if she has a restraining order this will keep him out until it expires, even if he is still technically a tenant. I'm sure she knows to call the police.

Also, depending on how things work out, he may be legally required to move out of her home, but that doesn't necessarily mean you have to remove him from the lease. If she fails to pay, you could still go after him for rent, even if a restraining order or whatever else remains in effect and he can't return to the home.

But definitely check local laws. Unfortunate situation.

The law usually requires you to allow a tenant to break their lease without penalty if they feel unsafe. She should move so the ex can't find her and you should let her go. You can terminate him as a tenant because of his criminal behavior.

If you're not sure what to do or how to do it, I recommend consulting an attorney asap.