Problem tenants (and placating your good tenants)

11 Replies

Been in the rental business for nearly 20 years. Had great experiences and the occasional bad tenant over that time. Right now my issue is in an older tri-plex in a smaller community (25,000 population). Unfortunately, I picked a bad tenant late last year that is affecting the two other good tenants in my building. I am in the early stages of the eviction process (yes, less than 3 months in) and my good tenants are aware of this. Additionally, the bad tenant was only given a short 5-month lease to start (as I knew her rental history wasn't strong) so the clock is ticking.

My question for the community is what have you done for good tenants to encourage them to stick it out while I'm getting rid of the problem tenant?

Thanks in advance!

Good evening.  Question: How long is the eviction process from start to finish typically where you are?  Here, if unanswered it is usually around 5 weeks.  I would just reassure the tenants that soon the problem will be gone and they will have peace.  Unfortunately, this happens occasionally, when you are a tenant living in such close proximity to neighbors.  Depending on the problem, I suggest to my good tenants to call police if the problem tenant is being a nuisance.  If your tenant is that type of issue, then it will make problem tenant life miserable as well.   

I don't really have any experience in this but if the two good ones have been there a while you could maybe give them a small credit on rent as a "apology" for the issues the other tenant has caused them.  

You might want to consider sweetening the pot to get the bad tenant to move, if they move out immediately.  That is assuming you can still have a reasonable discussion with them.  You never know the damage an upset tenant can make, especially if they feel they have nothing to lose.

Thank you both for your thoughts.  I have taken small steps (new blinds for one, promise to add a shed to the property for the other this summer) to placate the other tenants (both had said they couldn't take anymore and wanted to move out at lease end).  Normally I wouldn't share that I was in eviction proceedings with other tenants, but with the complaints I decided to share. 

I also told both to contact the police for anything that they feel warrants this, but to date neither tenant has called the police.  Both have complained to the problem tenant about her behavior. 

I have not been through an eviction proceeding in this particular community but assume it would take in the 6 week range once I'm through the initial notice requirements (they were just sent out this week).  The lease is up in 9 weeks so I had planned to just ride it out, but don't want to lose good tenants in the process.

Chris, take action as soon as possible. Don’t wait for the lease to end because there’s no guarantee your bad tenant will move out at that time anyway.  Or at least willingly.   Your good tenants just want the bad one gone.  

Evictions in WI are pretty quick and easy. Of course, they are never fun and can be more difficult to provide proof of noise, parties, drug activities, etc. The easiest way to evict is non-payment, but I'm guessing that's not your situation. I recently had several tenants call and complain about a party one night a few weeks ago. After talking to several tenants, I found out there were 5-6 people living in the apartment (instead of just the 2 that I rented it out to) and one of the boyfriends was dealing drugs out of the apartment. I gave them a 5 day for both issues and told them I would like them to move out and would let them break the lease. I got rid of the drug dealer and his girlfriend that way and am working through getting rid of the additional guests. If need be, you can always offer dollars for keys. It sounds like your situation might be bad enough to warrant that type of action. Good luck!

I've just called the other affected tenants and told a rather vague but reassuring answer. "I wanted to let you know I appreciate some of the inconveniences and issues you've had recently.  I wanted to reassure a resolution is coming very soon. Just hang in there a little bit longer."  They'll usually ask when or how but this is all stuff you can't divulge in Wisco (privacy laws and such). You can't say "I'm evicting them and the court date is ______." You could say "things are in motion and I anticipate this will be all over (by May...or within 60 days....)"

Your eviction will likely go quick depending on the backlog in your court system.  I see most court dates are about 10-14 days in the areas I work in. Any concern I may gave depends on the type of eviction you are doing.  An eviction for back rent is cut and dry. An eviction for lease violations has a greater chance of ending up in a trial. If it goes to trial, then everything changes. It would be ill-advisable to issue a 30 day during an active trial because that could be argued as retaliation for contesting the eviction.  You would have to wait till the trial concludes with a ruling in favor of the tenant before you issue a 30 day.  If you win the eviction then great then that doesn't matter. 

Thanks for the additional insight, everyone.  I have been trying to get the problem tenant out.  Have offered to let her out of the lease & return of cash.  She knows the system and is playing the game.  

Going through this myself in a triplex oddly enough . I just reassure my good tenants that I’m throwing him out and to stay patient and vigilant and things will improve as soon as he’s thrown out .