"Irrational Tenant" Clause in your lease?

13 Replies

In Ohio, does anyone know if you can have a "Irrational Tenant" Clause in your lease? Most reccenlty, we have been dealing with a irrational teant. The tenant is being very rude, unprofessional and demanding. For example, they have come out in the yard yelling at our lawncare provider. Left us many emails, texts and voicemails demanding unreasonble request on a daily basis. 

1. Do I have a right to evict this tenant? 

2. In the future, can I include a clause in my lease which stating something along the lines of "the teants must act rationally and professionally? 

My understanding is if they breach the lease agreement clauses and you state in there the lease is breakable due to violation of clauses then you can evict. Most leases have something mentioning "quiet enjoyment" which basically says don't be crazy. Your safest best if you're really worried is just keep leases month to month and you can terminate at will.

now this is for new home purchases but we have a Courtney Clause  named after a very tough buyer named Courtney.. it allows us to unwind the deal unilaterally and return their EM and 1k to them.. not sure if that works in the landord realm but it feels good to fire the very persnickety to rude buyers we encounter time to time.

You're going to have a hard time evicting someone for rudeness. If they start harassing or threatening the lawncare provider, that might be an evitable offense.

There is an easier solution that I have used. Tell the lawncare provider they are free to tell the tenant to "go f*** themselves". 

As for the daily unreasonable requests, just say no. Sorry, can't do that. Won't fix that. Not replacing that. No, no, no. 

As Always Talk to a lawyer. BP advice can give you a guideline, but only a lawyer can give you the right answer.

You may just be stuck with them til the end of their lease. Or until they screw up. 

"the teants must act rationally and professionally?

I doubt that will work. Too hard to define terms like this. Your idea of rational may differ from theirs...or that of a judge if it comes to that.......

Don’t forget that the lease can be broken if you both agree to it with the happy clause.  Mr. Crazy based on insert whatever crazy here it appears you are not happy, I am sorry to hear that but am willing to let you out of your lease.  They may choose to go on their own but if they don’t whatever they were upset about must not be that big of a deal.  Who knows maybe they are going for this anyway by being difficult until you give them the free out.  Keeping the lease month to month also gives you the ability to re-evaluate each month if you are happy and if not tell them to go.  

@Jack Krusinski sounds like a mental health issue...maybe it's not intentional behavior...if you evict, you could end up in hot water with a possible fair housing violation or discrimination charge...civil rights, or advocacy organization pushing to take the tenant back...viscous circle if she ends up back in one of your units. 

I always recommend talking to tenants when able...verbal or written notification and the accumulation of lease violations is the best approach...if the violations rise to a breach of the agreement, eviction goes a lot smoother.

Best of luck

@Marc Rice quiet enjoyment works the other way around.  The tenant has the right to quiet enjoyment from the landlord.  Meaning the landlord can't just stop by and visit the property and interrupt the tenants life.  Also might apply to the lawn guy by the way.  If the lawn guy is showing up at unreasonable hours, your tenant could actually claim you are breeching their quiet enjoyment.  

You can't always evict for possession if a tenant breaks a lease.  For example locally if a tenant is responsible for not paying a utility you can file a case and win a money judgement but most judges locally will not grant possession for this.  Even though they are in violation of the lease.  There are work arounds to this and that is why having a great local attorney that specializes in landlord/tenant law is a useful part of the team.

The difficulty with "irrational" is who defines it?  And if you claim someone is are you setting yourself up for discrimination issues?  We have tenants that are unreasonable and rude (in our opinion anyway) and it is just part of the game.  

@Jack Krusinski    this is unlikely to work or be enforcable.  You can require all requests in writing on a specific platform and block their number.  For example All requests must be email. You could make your quiet enjoyment clause have a corresponding requirement that the tenants must abide by policies and procedures for reporting grievances and repair requests allowing you some peace.  However I doubt if you tie that to lease termination that retaliation would not be claimed. 

He might not like the lawn guys hours (all of my neighbors lawn guys used to come Friday afternoon when I was off) but that doesn't give him the right to attach him. I would tell the lawn guy to just ignore him. If he threatens anyone then call the police.

He needs the happy clause.. you don't like it here leave without penalty.

@Jack Krusinski Requiring someone to be reasonable is probably going a little too far. As others have said, there are different interpretations as to what is irrational. People just aren’t always reasonable. Maybe you could use the term “aggression,” combined with something like “disorderly”, then DOCUMENT everything the tenant does and maybe eventually, with evidence of multiple instances of being irrational in an aggressive or disorderly way, it turns into something that a judge might find more palatable. Just a thought…there may be other lease provisions that can handle this situation if it goes too far. Regardless, I think you probably just have to deal with a certain amount of unreasonable behavior the best you can, but if something else more major comes along and you have documented the previous rude/irrational behavior, it could help in court with an eviction action for behavior that is over the top.

Rather than try and add some unorthodox clause to your lease that may draw a judge's ire (or any of these other work-arounds that are just going to create headwinds for you in a courtroom), why not just offer month-to-month leases? (link is my extended response)

@Jack Krusinski being rude, unprofessional and demanding isn't illegal and it is highly subjective what that even means. You are basically introducing an emotional clause in a contract, which will be very hard to defend in court. 

In my experience this comes down to how you manage tenants. Here are some suggestions to help:

1. Let them know the phone is only for emergencies that involve fire, temperature or water. If there is a fire or flooding or HVAC has gone out in extreme hot or cold, use the phone. If they try to call you to discuss anything else, refer them to alternate methods. 

2. Create a maintenance request form. Require tenants to fill in this form for any non-emergency requests. Make the form substantial enough that it takes some time to fill it out. Have a section on there for landlord approval or denial and comments. If they try to call or text with a request, refer them to the form. Nothing happens without a form being completed. Forms get responded to within 3 business days. All form responses are final.

3. As others mentioned, you can offer to let them out of their lease. "You are clearly not happy, so we are allowing you to break your lease. You will be responsible for rent up until the day you move out. Please provide move out date and we will prepare a lease break agreement for both of us to sign." If they refuse, let them know they need to follow proper communication channels going forward. 

4. Get better at saying no. When you are met with an unreasonable request, quickly say no. If they ask again or argue, just say that your decision is final. Just repeat that the decision is final and there is nothing more to talk about. If necessary just go silent and let them vent. You can also say, "sorry I have another call and I have to get off the phone". Hang up and silence calls from their number. Let them be psycho on their own time. 

Try to get by until their lease ends. Depending on the severity of the PITA factor, either increase rent or send letter of non renewal. Eviction may be an option, but only if you document piles of evidence showing craziness or you have clear threats of violence from them. 

My guess is that you are a good guy who is respectful and kind to people. You are seeing the reality that the world contains people who are crazy, selfish, unreasonable, mean and have far too much free time. People like this deserve only minimal courtesy. Don't use foul language or yell at them, but also don't indulge in their craziness.

Out of curiosity, what type of job does this person have? It seems that someone who complains daily would have trouble holding any job. Can you also provide examples of the requests? I may have some additional advice based on the nature of the requests.