Help! Messy Situation and Need Advice ASAP

9 Replies

I posted this on the landlord/tenant forum but also want some input on the Philly sub as the property is located in Philly. Mod - feel free to remove if I am violating any rules. Apologies in advance.

This is a complicated situation and sincerely hope everyone can give me some advice on what to do next. This is a long story but going to quickly summarize it below.

I purchased a property in Philadelphia on Sep 2017 and my dad had volunteered to watch/manage the property for me since he lives 2 hours away from the property. He hired a PM recommended by our relative who also owns investment in the area. We were able to secure a tenant within 2 weeks after hiring the PM.

Everything was going well, and the tenant was paying rent every month until 2 months ago. He lost his job and now is behind rent for the month of Sep and Oct (rent is due on the 15th of each month). He has also not been paying his water bill since the day he moved in. I had the bill send to both my personal address and the tenant’s address, but I had never received a water bill from the city of Philly. As a result, we owe about $650 in water bill from Sep 2017 to Apr 2019. The water company shut the water down on Apr 2019 and the tenant took it to himself to create another account without my or the PM’s permission. He has also never paid a single month for this new account and now owes about $300 in water bill from May 2019 to Sep 2019. Again, I was not aware of any of this until 2 weeks ago because I thought my dad/PM got it all under control.

Below is a breakdown of the tenant’s debt:

  • $300 in Sep 2019 rent (paid $1K)
  • $1300 in Oct 2019 rent
  • $650 (under my name) and $300 (under Tenant name) in water bill

Total: $2.6KA

Once I took over, I immediately issued a notice to quit on 10/15 to him but was told that he accepted a new job that will pay him $100K, starting on 10/28 and his next paycheck will be on 11/15. He even forward an offer letter to me as prove (seems real/legit). He said he would pay off the remaining rent of $1.6K and the $650 in water bill. I told him maybe we can work out a plan for him to pay it all off in 4 months ($1.3K in rent + $650 for 4 months). The lease had long expired and now it is month to month.

Few days later, I asked if he had paid off the $300 in water bill (under his name) and he said he did. I called the city of Philly to confirm and was told he owes $300.

I called the tenant and was told he’s been paying it off every month and has a statement that shows a balance of $45. He sent me a screenshot of the statement with a balance of $45. I called the water company again and found out that page 2 of the statement shows that he’s pending approval for bankruptcy. He lied and did not mentioned about the bankruptcy.

It took a while for me to unwrap the whole situation because my dad/PM was managing the whole thing and this is a huge mistake on my end....... I am obviously very pissed and mad at them/myself but at the same time I just want to solve the situation.

Couple of other things....

  1. PM set up a rental license but did not perform a certificate of suitability
  2. PM does not care about the whole situation and I am pretty much Googling and learning how to deal with the situation myself
  3. We have $1.3K in security deposit

I know I should fire the PM ASAP and hire someone that can help me walk through this process (any recommendations?), what else should i be aware of and should or should not be doing?

Should I evict this tenant ASAP? or wait until 11/15 to see if he makes that payment.

Sorry about this long but I desperately need some advice right now.

Originally posted by @Harry Lin :

I posted this on the landlord/tenant forum but also want some input on the Philly sub as the property is located in Philly. Mod - feel free to remove if I am violating any rules. Apologies in advance.

This is a complicated situation and sincerely hope everyone can give me some advice on what to do next. This is a long story but going to quickly summarize it below.

I purchased a property in Philadelphia on Sep 2017 and my dad had volunteered to watch/manage the property for me since he lives 2 hours away from the property. He hired a PM recommended by our relative who also owns investment in the area. We were able to secure a tenant within 2 weeks after hiring the PM.

Everything was going well, and the tenant was paying rent every month until 2 months ago. He lost his job and now is behind rent for the month of Sep and Oct (rent is due on the 15th of each month). He has also not been paying his water bill since the day he moved in. I had the bill send to both my personal address and the tenant’s address, but I had never received a water bill from the city of Philly. As a result, we owe about $650 in water bill from Sep 2017 to Apr 2019. The water company shut the water down on Apr 2019 and the tenant took it to himself to create another account without my or the PM’s permission. He has also never paid a single month for this new account and now owes about $300 in water bill from May 2019 to Sep 2019. Again, I was not aware of any of this until 2 weeks ago because I thought my dad/PM got it all under control.

Below is a breakdown of the tenant’s debt:

  • $300 in Sep 2019 rent (paid $1K)
  • $1300 in Oct 2019 rent
  • $650 (under my name) and $300 (under Tenant name) in water bill

Total: $2.6KA

Once I took over, I immediately issued a notice to quit on 10/15 to him but was told that he accepted a new job that will pay him $100K, starting on 10/28 and his next paycheck will be on 11/15. He even forward an offer letter to me as prove (seems real/legit). He said he would pay off the remaining rent of $1.6K and the $650 in water bill. I told him maybe we can work out a plan for him to pay it all off in 4 months ($1.3K in rent + $650 for 4 months). The lease had long expired and now it is month to month.

Few days later, I asked if he had paid off the $300 in water bill (under his name) and he said he did. I called the city of Philly to confirm and was told he owes $300.

I called the tenant and was told he’s been paying it off every month and has a statement that shows a balance of $45. He sent me a screenshot of the statement with a balance of $45. I called the water company again and found out that page 2 of the statement shows that he’s pending approval for bankruptcy. He lied and did not mentioned about the bankruptcy.

It took a while for me to unwrap the whole situation because my dad/PM was managing the whole thing and this is a huge mistake on my end....... I am obviously very pissed and mad at them/myself but at the same time I just want to solve the situation.

Couple of other things....

  1. PM set up a rental license but did not perform a certificate of suitability
  2. PM does not care about the whole situation and I am pretty much Googling and learning how to deal with the situation myself
  3. We have $1.3K in security deposit

I know I should fire the PM ASAP and hire someone that can help me walk through this process (any recommendations?), what else should i be aware of and should or should not be doing?

Should I evict this tenant ASAP? or wait until 11/15 to see if he makes that payment.

Sorry about this long but I desperately need some advice right now.

Unfortunately you have to start the eviction process. Keep in mind that it is a process so it doesn't go quickly, I don't know local Philly eviction law but you can talk to a local attorney for that, and if he brings everything current you can always drop the eviction. It's highly unlikely you can do this properly by your self especially if he has filed for BK. The security deposit may belong to the Bankruptcy estate and you may be in violation of law if you do anything with it without a court order. You have to file a claim with the bankruptcy court. Sorry that this got so complicated for you.

 

@Harry Lin Start the eviction now and explain to the tenant that if he pays up on Nov 15, you will put the proceeding on hold.  Evictions take time, so the sooner you start, the better.  Once people get behind, it is hard for them to catch up.

As for your PM, tell them you are going to look for another one as they should have been on top of this when he failed to pay his rent the first time.

@Harry Lin get them out now. Stop waiting. Your giving a known liar chances they dont deserve. Serve an eviction notice yesterday if you haven't already. You might not even be able to evict now that they are filling bankruptcy. You need an attorney to help you evict them. Stop reading online and go find an eviction attorney.

Do not wait on the tenant. Start the eviction process as this still allows them time to catch up. If the tenant does catch up then great. They are getting a free ride and you are paying for it. 

I appreciate everyone's response so far. I am trying to get a attorney ASAP. Does anyone have any recommendations for the Philly area and how much should I expect to pay in fees? 

Thanks again everyone.

Im not too familiar with the Philadelphia eviction process, but when I was evicting tenants in NJ I did it on my own. It wasn't too much of a time suck. It's hard to be a landlord and have a generous heart. People will take advantage every time. 

Agree with the post above that suggested HAPCO for help. When you join HAPCO, they send you a booklet that explains most if not all of the subtle details that a landlord needs to follow within the City of Philadelphia. And they have an eviction attorney available to members that is really a great deal for the landlord - a landlord would be hard pressed to find a less expensive eviction attorney that is also competent.

I suggest you go to pacer.gov to see what is happening with this tenant's bankruptcy. Don't get caught by surprise, you could be dragged in.


I agree that eviction proceedings should be started as soon as possible. If the tenants pays, then you can drop the case. It takes months before an eviction goes through and it is a process.

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