Hi, I am a new landlord in Massachusetts. We purchased a multifamily a year ago with one apartment occupied. This family doesn't cooperate with us. They are tenants at will and we don't have any written agreement. They pay rent, but it's at least $600 below the market price. 2 months ago I sent them a letter where I terminated current lease and offered a new lease under a market price, starting March 1st. On March 1st I received an old payment. They transfer payments directly to the account with Zelle. How should I respond? What should be my next step? Are there any formal standard letters for this situation? Also I was told that I should not deposit check, but in my case it's direct money transfer. What should be done about it?
Hi @Linda Roberts , this is a tough one, sorry you are in this spot. I think the first thing you need to do is not let them use that system. They need to pay you with a check or Cozy or another system that will make them pay all or nothing. That way moving forward you will be better aligned with the law. From there, it will be easier to evict for nonpayment of rent.
For this month, you can send them a notice that they still owe you the remaining balance of the rent but don't count on collecting. You will need to start over with April's rent if you are going to use that for the eviction process.
Thank you @Brad Hammond for your advice.
@Linda Roberts give this a read:
You need to give them proper notice that you are terminating their tenancy at will status and they can either sign a lease or vacate. If they do not vacate, then you file for eviction.
It seems this may be a bit tricky if you don't do everything exactly right. I would recommend using an attorney who specializes in evictions in your jurisdiction.
Thanks @David Lilley . I read all the instructions before sending a letter of lease termination, so I hope this part is correct. For the next step, it looks like it's better to go with a lawyer.
Have you talked to them in person? Before I went and spent a bunch of money on a lawyer, I'd want to first make sure that I couldn't work it out. Right now there is a nationwide CDC ordered eviction moratorium through March 31, 2021 (which is likely to be extended); and some states have statewide even more restrictive moratoriums. There seems to be mass confusion (even in the court system) regarding these moratoruims and different magistrates have different interpretations and some are more landlord friendly and others more tenant friendly so you might get lucky but you might also just waste your filing/attorney fees.
Once this is over, in this situation what I would do is charge a late fee and send them a letter with new balance. In that letter, I would notify the tenants that the rent will increase $xx dollars every month until we have a signed rental agreement and that a late fee will also be assessed until the balance is paid.
Personally, I'm waiting until this pandemic eviction moratorium is over to initiate rent increases and nuisance tenant non-renewals.
Unfortunately you are going to have to speak with an Attorney that knows the current rules in your particular state.
Several have mentioned eviction for non payment. You can't do that right now anywhere in the US. BUT alot of states are allowing non-renewal. As long as the tenant isn't under a lease, and yours isn't, you want to file for non-renewal. An attorney will tell you if your state is granting non renewals. I've gotten rid of 3, going on 4 tenants through the pandemic with non renewals.
Send them a notice and if they still don't listen possible eviction
Contact an attorney for the exact steps to take in your state to formally notify someone their lease will not be renewed. After that runs its course file for eviction, again under the guidance of an attorney because it sounds like from what you described the tenant knows the system better than you do.
Hi Linda!! It would definitely make sense to talk to an attorney. Let me send you some guidance via direct message
First, see if they just forgot. Give them the benefit of the doubt first, I've forgotten to change my mortgage payment when taxes have gone up before. If they ignore your phone/email/text, then get attorneys involved.