Tenant Breach Ultimatum - Wisconsin

5 Replies

Good Morning BP Community!

I recently purchased my first SFH rental about 5 minutes from my primary residence (duplex). This is my first case of a difficult tenant. She has been in the property for 26 days and I went over to the property yesterday after receiving complaint about noise, trash, and other nasty accusations from a neighbor.

I plan to call her and verbally give her the below points before sending the email. Do you think I am taking the right approach? Should I do anything differently?

Email Message Draft (the bullet points didn't copy over well):

As discussed on the phone, below are a few lease violations/breaches I noticed when I was checking the furnace filter yesterday. Please fix the following breaches before Sunday morning at 9:30 AM. Due to these issues, I will also be scheduling weekly inspection of the property until further notice to ensure these lease breaches do not happen again.
I really do want to retain you as a tenant (I think you are a great person), but I need to enforce the rules on the lease that we signed to ensure protection of my property and prevent any issues with neighbors.

  1. Trash and recycling disposal
    • There was trash and recycling (including a mattress) around the garage in the alleyway. I understand you are in the process of moving, but you are responsible to manage the garbage and recycling. Garbage is to be placed in the proper disposal bins, neither garbage nor recyclable materials can be kept on the grounds. If you wish to dispose of large items that the city will not collect, you must make special arrangements or do so yourself in accordance with local ordinances and laws.
    • I have also received complaint from a Neighbor about this issue
      • Please review your lease documents: Rules and Regulations - section 25-27, or, Addendum to Residential Rental Agreement Non Standard Provisions - Section 3-6
    • I will be stopping over on Sunday Morning around 9:30 AM. Please have the garbage picked up and disposed of by Sunday morning or or you will be issued a 5-day Notice to Correct Breach or Vacate.
  2. Smoking on the property
    • There were 2 (maybe more) bongs on the basement bar. Besides the fact marijuana is illegal, I have a strict no smoking policy anywhere on the property. This is very clearly articulated in your lease.
      • I have also received a complaint from a Neighbor about this issue/smell
      • Please review your lease documents: Smoking Policy Addendum - Page 1, or, Residential Rental Agreement - Section 116-124, or, Rules and Regulations - Section 53-54, 57.
      • I will be stopping over on Sunday Morning around 9:30 AM. If I notice a smoke or marijana smell on Sunday morning, you will be issued a 5-day Notice to Correct Breach or Vacate.
  3. Neighbor Complaint - Noise, Trash, Marijuana Smell
    • I recently received a complaint from a neighbor regarding the noise, trash and marijuana on the property. Since I have already covered the smoking and trash breaches above, l will just focus this one on the noise complaint.
    • Per the lease, you cannot produce noises that will disturb the right or comfort of other tenants and/or neighbors.
      • Please review your lease documents: Rules and Regulations - Section 57
  4. Other Residents
    • We noticed signs of more than 3 residents (yourself and two children) living at the property. Tenants may not have any person who is not listed on the lease reside in the Premises for more than 14 days of the year (unconsecutive) or more than 3 days a month (consecutive).
      • Please review your lease documents: Residential Rental Agreement - Use of Premises and Guests - Section 103-110
      • I will be stopping over on Sunday Morning around 9:30 AM. If I notice signs of this on Sunday, you will be issued a 5-day Notice to Correct Breach or Vacate.

@Mitch Jorgensen - this reads like a corporate negotiations, very professional, but probably over the head of your tenant. Also you have better things to do then going there every week. Keep your distance! 

If she is in the process of moving out then your security deposit is the only leverage you mave. If you don't have a formal termination, then send her a 28 day notice. If you have to play hardball let her know that you will go after her beyond her move out for damages. On the other hand, try a carrot as well and offer an incentive. 

You have a whole list of violations, focus on one thing only (move out), smoking already happened. And if you have smoke smell shoot me a DM, I'll hook you up with a professional ozone service for $300 to get the house small like air after a thunderstorm.

FYI: In my state inspections are illegal - please check this. I am only allowed to visit for specific reasons.

My attorney would strongly advise me to file perform-or-quit 3 days. No friendly letter, just: Here is what you are doing wrong, stop or be evicted. His reasoning is that if it works you are good and if it doesn't you are fully legally prepared to evict 3 days hence.

The advice often heard on here of, "Its a business - treat it like one" is very solid. Trying to be a normal decent and reasonable human only works works with people who belong to that club. People who are a problem in the first month are not members.

I think you've gone overboard on the formality of the situation. Somebody who has multiple bongs probably isn't going to grasp Smoking Policy Addendum - Page 1, or, Residential Rental Agreement - Section 116-124, or, Rules and Regulations - Section 53-54, 57.

I'd try something like:

Dear Tenant,

  • Smoking: Neighbors have reported the smell of (marijuana) smoke coming from the property. As stated in the lease, there is no smoking of any kind allowed on the property.
  • Trash: Please make sure all trash is disposed of properly. There are trash and recycle bins available for your use. You must arrange with the City or a private company to dispose of large items such as mattresses.
  • Noise: Neighbors have complaint about the level of noise. With everyone working from home these days this is a sensitive issue. Please be respectful of the level of noise the neighbors can hear.
  • Occupants: The lease allows you and your children to live on the premises. While infrequent guests are allow to stay the night according to the lease, new occupants are not allowed without my express written permission.

While you are a new resident and there is always an adjustment period, please understand that I take the maintenance of my property and the concerns of the neighbors extremely seriously. Please address these issues immediately and refer to the lease to make sure you are in compliance with the terms that were agreed to when you moved in. 

If things aren't corrected in a few days, then hit her with the cure or quit notice and prepare for the eviction. 

@Greg M. /@Carl Mathis /@Marcus Auerbach - Thank you all very much for your feedback, it is appreciated.

I sent a slightly revised email and had a phone conversation with my tenant after I stopped over at the property on Sunday morning. The tenant agreed to fix the breaches (and I think they meant it), but I will be monitoring closely going forward. 

Also remember that the neighbor isn't your tenant. I like to adhere to being a good neighbor, but I'm more concerned with my relationship with the person paying rent than the neighbor.