Hello group , can I get an advice .
My tenant sent me this text message this morning :
“I'm not speaking on Chris's behalf but I will not pay rent until things are fixed in the house they have been on going issues for months now. We have paid rent on time every single month. I have animals running across my ceiling which I told you about last winter. The leak is so bad it is going to burst through the wall eventually. Are lease is up extremely soon and you haven't said a word about it. We also are the only people who pay over a 1000$ in this area and we don't even have the back yard. The neighborhood is trash and the rent is obnoxiously high for where we are and considering we are literally going though a pandemic it is not right. “
P.S. here is the leak , and I told him I will need to inspect it before calling a contractor , I made and attempt to inspect it and he was telling me he has no time that day .
Not to mention anytime he had any problem I send somebody to fix it right away
As far as raccoons under the roof , I do need to call the company to come and install raccoon traps .
As far as rent in the area , he is comparing to the people who lived in the neighborhood for many years. I’m not even charging him for his 3 cats.
What would be the right way to approach this ?
Address the material issues. Your lease should state that you have the right to enter the property with 24 hours to inspect or address serious issues. Animals running loose and a long term leak seem like they would qualify as serious. Tell your tenant you will be there at X time/day to address the serious issues they raised and don't negotiate (unless they have COVID).
I do a rental search when I raise the rent so I can show my tenants what a great deal they have, as compared to what they could get if they moved now. Consider doing the same to show how they can't get what they have for close to their current rent. You don't need to justify your rent, but I find that helps build the relationship if it is souring.
Ask your tenants if they want to renew the lease or move out. I wouldn't let my tenants bad mouth my property to get lower rent. I would be more inclined to tell them they can move out when the lease is up since they are unhappy, or they can renew if you are willing to do so. Putting the decision in their hands should end that part of the complaining.
Thank you James ,
Funny part is , just a week or 2 ago, he asked me if they can extend their lease for another year . I told him it’s not a problem. Maybe that’s his way of making sure i wouldn’t increase it ?!
@Maxim K. Hard to tell if there are legitimate issues or not. We're only getting one side of the story, and your post almost makes it sound like perhaps there are some issues that need to be dealt with. I can tell you that regardless of that, I would not renew the lease of a tenant who resorted to threatening me and who started making demands and saying that they would no longer pay rent until their demands were met.
I would address the things that legitimately need addressing (i.e. pests, leaks, etc) and explain to them that there are just some things that are out of your control (i.e. certain neighborhood conditions, the pandemic, etc).
In the meantime, I'd let their lease expire and then just keep them month-to-month and see how things go. That way, if they continue to be unhappy or continue to threaten to not pay rent (or worse - actually stop paying it), it'll make it easier for you guys to part ways (or evict them if it comes to that).
Thank you Kyle ,
I like an idea of month to month , i might offer him to stay there month to month , but I felt it’s safer for me as a Landlord to have a yearly lease in place .
@Maxim K. It’s not safer to have a whole year tied up with a problem tenant who doesn’t want to pay, especially if you renew and the tenant decides not to pay (which they’re already doing), that may be a real headache for you.
It seems like there are some issues with the property that truly do need attention and possibly they have some cause for their frustration. If they won’t let you in, it would be better to let them move and correct the issues and get a year lease from a happy, new tenant with a landlord/tenant relationship that starts off on the right foot.
Take the emotion out of this and think about your business. First of all, if you have raccoons in your property, your property is being damaged - possibly severely. If you have a leak coming into your property, damage is being incurred in multiple ways. And, if you fail to provide an infestation-free, leak-free/mold-free environment in a rental property, you're headed nowhere good. That's a violation of Landlord-Tenant Law in every state.
Check your state Landlord/Tenant Laws but in my state, this would constitute emergency repairs and I would let the tenant know that I was coming in with a contractor that very day. He doesn't have the right to keep you from protecting your property. He doesn't get to complain and threaten not to pay - and then hold you hostage either.
I recommend scheduling "critter control" and handyman/roofer contractors for tomorrow/ASAP and notifying the tenant by email/phone/text that you will be arriving at the property with contractors, inspecting the premises, and making repairs at that specific time. You're not asking permission,you are informing him.
After all is said and done, send your tenant an email advising on how you want to be notified of repair requests. Have him send it via email with photos of the damage/repair. Let him know that you will be responsive and that any refused scheduled visit is just not an option under Landlord/Tenant Laws and his lease. Get control of the process and take the emotion out of it.
Protect your investment. Manage to your lease. Respond to repair requests quickly and without being held hostage by a controlling tenant. Give proper notice required by law and then go and do it. All of this is part of running a business.
Fix the issues but they do not have the right to withhold rent until things are fixed. The correct way for them address an issue is for them to give you a 14/30 and it does not sound like they have done that. Their letter or text will not stand up in small claims court. I would give them a 3 day notice if they have not paid rent when rent is due.
@James Mc Ree has some great insight for you. I think sometimes it is in our best interests as landlords to remember that our relationships with our tenants is not necessarily adversarial as it is a partnership. Address their issues as a responsible landlord and charge them for their pets if you charge a pet fee in all of your rentals. Get to know your states landlord/tenant laws. Where I am a tenant cannot withhold rent.
Maybe time to invoke the "happiness clause". ie, "Since you're not happy living here, I've decided to let you break the lease without penalty and seek other housing." If they really don't want to live there or think they can find a better "value" someone else, let them leave and you can find somewhere else.
How are raccoons getting in the property? Seems like that could be easily remedied as they're not that small and would need a pretty big hole to get through. I'd be on that issue immediately.
Is there really a leak in the wall? If so, that can only result in bigger problems. If it's not a plumbing pipe, a common cause is a bad boot on a vent pipe that goes through the roof. (about $4.00 part at Home Depot)
If the tenant is correct and you have not fixed issues for months, you may want to consider a new career. I do not agree with a tenant withholding rent, but not fixing basic issues is not the way to run a rental. Have the contractor schedule with the tenant to fix thw leak. You throwing out a random date and time is jot reasonable. Let the professional contact the tenant and fix the issue. Leaks o ly get worse, and lead to wood rot and mold. You expect tenants to pay on time, you should perform maintenance in reasonable time.
If I were in your shoes I would immediately notice the renters that you will be there is 24 hours to fix the leak and catch the critter.
Then in the future do not let maintenance items lag. Fix them as they come up. Both of those items can cause major issues if not corrected, extra damage from racoon feces, chewing on wood and wires/insulation around wires or mold and damage to wood and drywall from a water leak, worse if its a sewage leak.
Being a landlord is not just collecting the rent it is managing the property.
I do not take it well if a tenant threatens to not pay rent, or complains about things I can not control like the neighborhood. Those complaints show that the tenant is not satisfied about where he is living, so I would not do a new lease with them. I likely would give them notice that at the end of this lease they need to be gone. I would not even do month to month. It will only prolong what will happen eventually and put them in the driver's seat about when it will happen, and leave you at risk of not getting rent as they plan their exit.
1) Good that the lease will finish “extremely soon” You need to send the No Renovation notice ASAP !!!! Never renew to a tenant that communicates in that manner.
2) Once they are gone fix all issues completely
3) Rr rent
Let them leave, repair the issues and turn the property with new tenants.
Don't let your repairs fall behind or you have these issues
@Maxim K. If he is telling the truth about paying on time, I would strive to get these issues fixed right away. You could tell him to place the rent in escrow as you get these things fixed.
Look at the list and put yourself in the tenant's place. Raccoon in the attic and ongoing leak. How long have those been going on? Both involve a call to a professional to fix or if you can fix the leak, going and doing it. you said you tried to view the unit to check the leak, but the time you mentioned, the tenant couldn't be there. Two things: they don't need to be there, you have to give 24 hours notice and then enter the property to deal with it; if you only gave them one time, they may have had other obligations at that time.
Do you want animals in the attic and a leak that can cause bigger problems?
Ignore the comment about rent. They are mad that you aren't dealing with things and bringing in other emotions.
With the renewal, let them know if you are or aren't going to renew it and give it to them in writing and ask for a written response within a reasonable amount of time (a week).
They are exercising the only leverage they have, and it reads like you’ve known about these things for a while and have left them no choice. Critters in the house is very unsettling for people- they’re a nuisance, unsanitary, and they make people ashamed of where they live.
Fix the issues quickly, mend the relationship, and see how it goes from there.
I am agreeing with others here that sounds like there is some deferred issues and the tenant has hit their breaking point. It seems like they have brought up these issues before with no success so they feel that a financial incentive may get you moving. The issues they want fixed are more than reasonable and could be causing additional damage each day that goes by, get on that ASAP. The tenant does not need to be there for major issues such as this, give a couple more times you can get out there and have them pick. If none of these times work for them this is why you have an extra key. As far as price they just don't feel like they are getting their moneys worth with the issues, once you get things fixed they will be fine but if not they can always leave and you may be able to raise again in a lot of markets. I would leave them on M2M and and am doing this with even my good tenants but especially problem ones. From my understanding in my area I can't evict for non payment but still can for lease violations including holdover so keep the ball in your court and just keep them at M2M. If they are truly unhappy they can leave, and the same applies to you getting rid of them once things settle down with the courts.
@Maxim K. Just reading the text it does seem like there are some potentially serious repair issues that you would want to get addressed right away to protect your investment. After that in dealing with these specific tenants I would be concerned about any tenant threatening to not pay rent for any reason. Today the issue may be for what they perceive as legit repair requests, but tomorrow it could be because they believe you are charging too much, which they mention is an issue.
After the repairs and animal issues are dealt with I would just be honest with them and explain they seem unhappy with the house and amount of rent they are paying so that you feel it would be better if they move on to somewhere that better suits their needs. Be calm, professional, and courteous. You will get no where by turning it into a battle and let's be honest as landlords we have much more to lose if a tenant becomes upset and damages the property than they have by leaving in the middle of the night and not paying months of back rent while leaving damage behind.
There are two sides to every story. The tenant makes it sound as though these are ongoing issues that you have done nothing to address. You claim to be making an effort. Assuming you are working to resolve the issues, the tenant is totally off base. I would address the tone with the tenant and explain that they need to pay rent on time. Your job is to fix problems and their job is to pay rent. If you are not fixing problems, then tenants won't pay rent. Only you know what the real situation is, so my advice is fix the problem.
I want to correct a few things I saw people saying in here - check your state laws - in Oregon for example a tenant most certainly can withhold rent from a landlord when repairs have not been made. Years ago I actually had to go this route when renting here in Oregon. I ended up filing a lawsuit against the property management company for severe damage to my personal property and health issues from black mold from a leak they took over 90 days to even address AFTER I filed the lawsuit. The home was deemed uninhabitable by 3 inspectors. I had several attorneys state they had never seen a tenant be so successful in a lawsuit but those texts are threats to me. They are a last ditch effort to get you to repair a property that could have serious health and safety issues for your tenant.
@Maxim K. I would focus on the lease and your State regulations in your response. Basically, take excerpts from the lease when responding. After all, that is what will govern how you act now or in the future. For example, I would start out with..."thank you for reaching out. Per the lease rent is due on the 1st..... state statutes provide that rent may be withheld for the following..... This is not the case here. These are the actions that have taken to resolve the leak, neighbors, etc.... I will be sending you a renewal offer rate # days before your lease is up (if you decide to do that). I would not address the complaints on market rate.
In most states you can enter with notice with serious issues even if the tenant isn't available. A water leak and a racoon IN the attic are big issues and can cause alot of damage. Raccon needs a fairly big hole to get in the attic. You can install one way doors for animals, once they go out they can't get back in (at least for squirrels).
Politely let him know rent is due on the first and the critter control will be there on x date. hopefully tomorrow. Review and fix the leak. I would only let them stay M2M to see how the relationship goes.
Like others said fix things asap. Racoons. Lol. How are they getting in? Leak fixes should be done asap so they dont cause more damage.
In my state they cant withhold it but they can put it in escrow at rent court and file a claim there. In a place like NY I could see them having similar recourse. You will not be paid until after a municipal inspector inspects and all the issues are fixed and confirmed by another inspection. With covid this could be a slow process. Fix it asap so it doesnt turn into the latter. If you take him to rent court and they get a lawyer things could get real slow. Last thing you want is them freeloading after they realize the eviction process is 6 plus months with covid.