I am a small landlord with only 2 properties. And less than 2 weeks ago I signed a lease with a new tenant. There are a few red flags that I see quite clearly now but kind of turned a blind eye when I signed the lease and am completely regretting it now. In the future I know I need to be more selective and not just "give a chance" to people with bad history. But that's a whole separate issue.
Before signing the lease, I personally inspected and tested everything to make sure nothing was broken or less than working condition. I also had the township inspect everything to get the CO.
Upon signing the lease, the tenant and I did a complete walkthrough of the property and everything was in complete working condition. No complaints. Said everything was fine so I handed him the keys.
The very next day he started calling and texting complaining about how everything was broken and he would need me to pay for a new washer, fridge, CO detector, thermostat, shower faucet, screen door, and blinds. I told him that everything was working fine before he moved in; That I personally inspected everything including all of the items he complained about and even had a township inspector approve everything for rental. But if he had any complaints I could come to take a look and address them. He said "you need to send out a professional to fix or replace everything today" and I told him I need to verify all of these complaints first. 3 different times he said I could come and then when I said I was heading over he would say that he wouldn't allow me anymore. On day 3 he said he will just hire a professional and deduct all costs from rent and I told him he would need to let me verify and address any issues first so he told me to talk to his lawyer. He gave me a first name and phone number saying that I needed to call them because his lawyer refused to call me. This to me sounds fishy. Can anybody confirm if this is normal or bogus behavior from a lawyer?
On Day 4 I offered him a $700 plus a refund of unused rent plus all of his security deposit back to move out in a week since he seemed so unhappy. He said he'd start looking. Today was the day he was supposed to move out and then he said "Talk to my lawyer if you want to know everything that is going on".
I looked up the name and number and there are old records of them being a registered attorney. But the websites and other listed numbers were all inactive. I even called the number and the person who picked up sounded unprofessional saying "Is this important? I'm at the gym". Again, red flag.
At this point I'm pretty sure he's a veteran rent-dodger. I already tried cash for keys, no luck. He just used it as a stall tactic.
Does anybody have any suggestions on what else I should do?
I think my next step is to start the eviction process by sending Notice to Quit and filing for eviction if he does not quit. I'm also considering hiring a lawyer to do these things but am tight on funds due to multiple factors. I also used a lawyer for an eviction in the past but was not happy with the outcome (the tenant was allowed to stay after paying back rent without penalty or having to pay legal fees). Any recommendations on parts of the process that are DIY-able and what parts should be done by a lawyer?
In parallel, I was also thinking of filing in small claims court for unpaid rent. On that topic, does anybody have any experience with collecting rent owed going through small claims court? What's the success rate of actual collecting after a judgement?
Any input is greatly appreciated!
Hey @Victor Kao , sorry to hear about all the crap you've been going through! Right from the get-go! Definitely a tough lesson to learn. The judge can issue a landlord's lien for the rent due if it comes to that. But I am not a lawyer, so your best bet is to seek legal counsel.
Call a real estate Atty NOW!
stop reading this post and call them NOW!
a couple hundred or even a couple thousand will be small compared to what this could end up costing
Document EVERYTHING. stop communicating with the tenant verbally. Only texts and emails from here on