Dealing with bad inherited tenant

5 Replies

Hi folks, I recently made the big decision to start my journey in real estate and purchased a 2 unit home in southern California to house hack. It is an older home so there are some deferred maintenance to be done, but the numbers worked out and the tenant seemed like good people. The home came with 2 tenants, both on 1 year leases expiring by summer 2021. Recently one of the units had a clogged kitchen sink, so I went over there to fix it. The next day the tenant in the other unit started calling and texting me about them having the same issue. When I showed up to fix it I could not find any drainage issues with their kitchen sink. Nonetheless I still asked the plumber to use an auger on all the pipes just to make sure. The plumber did not find any blockage and I thought it would be the end of that. When I asked them about when they experienced the drainage issue they dodged around the issue and said that their pipes are also backed up because of the blockage in the front unit, and that I should hire a plumber to clean the drains once a month at the minimum. I said that I would fix issues when they arise but can't commit to a schedule. 

When I got home I received more pictures and videos from them, saying the drains are clogged again. Thing is in the pictures I can clearly see it was a photo they took of another phone, and not the sink itself. This is not the first time these tenants have done this either, last month they complained of termite fliers but said they all went away when I showed up for treatment. I got suspicious that they are playing games for whatever reason, and a quick google search of their names returned several small claims court law suits and even a chapter 7 a long time ago. When I first purchased the home these tenants told me that they sold their home late 2019 and are looking to move into another home as soon as possible. But at this point I'm worried they will never leave, or worse yet, damage the home when they finally do move out. 

I've decided to record all interactions with them going forward for record keeping, just in case it had to be resolved in court. Are there any other precautions I should be taking? Anyone have tenant nightmares to share?

Im sorry to hear that, I bet that is frustrating! I think you are doing all the right things, standing your ground when you need to, but recording all the conversations and maintenance requests.

On the plus side, you know when their lease is up so you definitely don't have to rent to them for another year.

Worst case scenario, if it comes to it, you have a cash for keys option. You may be able to get them out early and avoid court, while saving money and your sanity!

@James Liu Congrats on taking the plunge!  

Inheriting tenants are always hit and miss.  You never know who you are going to get. As mentioned by @Chris Tarpey , there is not a lot you can do while the lease is still in effect unless they were to do something that would warrant an eviction. However, with the current moratorium there are restrictions on evictions, but depending on where your property is located, evictions are still taking place. 

My guess is California is going to be a difficult place to evict tenants as their laws tend to favor the tenants. I owned property in Northern California and it was nearly impossible to evict a tenant (even squatters) during non-moratorium times.  

Best of luck with the rental. There is a light at the end of the tunnel with the expiring leases, however.

I agree with the other investors wrote and another thing you can do since they complain they always have issues is to do monthly maintenance walk throughs this will help in minimizing them doing damage to the unit until their lease is up or you can offer them a cash for keys situation now and tell them you need them to move to solve all the problems they so call been having with the unit....basically using their BS to get them to leave

Document everything. Let them know everything is documented. I would also let them know that if they make a maintenance request that is unfounded - or found to be their fault - they will be charged for the bill.

Thank you all so much for your responses. It's good to know that there are remedies even when dealing with difficult tenants. I found some tenant repair requests forms online and will introduce that in all repair requests in the future. Even though it is more work it will at least leave a paper trial of everything I'm doing and can be used as evidence should the tenants complain about habitability. Appreciate all the responses and looking forward to many more years of being a landlord!