How do I handle this next time? Unreasonable renters

9 Replies

I've been doing this since 2010 and have been buying a few props every yr. I'm currently at 7 but I still feel like a beginner. Anyway after seeing how much I paid management company I decided to manage a few myself. I have 3 and company 4 units. 

Anyway a young couple with 4 yr old moved in about 4 months ago with 650 rent and 500 deposit. She is also about 8 months prego as of today. At the beginning of September they paid 560 and said rest of rent would be paid following pay day. I said day came and went no rent no answer to text.

Last Monday she calls and says "please take me off lease my boyfriend quit job 2 weeks ago and won't pay any bills or buy diapers. I already moved most of my stuff out. The power and water to property also got cut off due to lack of payment. He won't answer anyone's calls or text. Please give me a few days to pick up final items. " 

On Thursday she said key was left underfloor mat and oh by the way my sister in law spilled bait shrimp on floor several days ago and no one cleaned up!!!!

Thursday night I go clean up rotting raw shrimp from kitchen floor and house is full of dirty clothes and old mattresses on floor. I leave by dumping entire bottle of pine sol on floor to get rid of smell. And entire bottle of Lysol . Friday at lunch I do the same. On Sunday morning I take a 14 foot landscape trailer and fill it with all the crap they left with intent to take to dump but the rain prevented that. Now trailer is full and sitting in an empty lot of mine. 

Today she texts saying she wants to pick up some items...I tell they are gone....she starts to say she is calling cops and I didn't give her eviction notice and all the other eviction requirements. 

She now wants me to drive trailer full of stuff to her moms house so she can sift through and get clothes or whatever other stuff and then I take it to dump. 

So they trash the place, owe rent, text me that they are out, cut off utilities and expected me to just leave their stuff there......

I told her I did not evict broke the lease and left.....I have right to clean my property when you abandon it

What did I do wrong? Does she have any basis to her argument? What should I do next time? This entire time bf never responded to text or calls


Did you get anything from them in writing?  Did you give them any notice to pay or vacate or anything like that?

there is a local Facebook group dedicated to helping people find rentals and homes for sale. I have screen shots of where she tagged me on post of people searching for a home. I have screen shots showing how she says she moved out and is recommending me as a landlord. She also expresses that only reason she moved out was that bf quit job. That was on the 24th.......why would I think that it would not be OK to clean out house on 28th? 

all I have are the texts from her and the fb post mentioned above......I was not going to evict......I was just going to let them pay late........she left on her own......I never brought up eviction or vacating of the property...........I would rather get partial rent than have to look for new tenants........this is payments is 350 per month and each side rents for 650 so cash flow is great........I never pressured them......since they always paid.....never on time but they always paid......even late fees.....

hmmm.....NEVER make a move without either clearly understanding the law or talking to an attorney. You could have several issues. I suggest you call an attorney in the morning for advice.

This is a good question!  I guess what you should have done is get it in writing that she'll be off the lease and have her possessions off the premises by a certain date, then clean out after that date. 

 It's hard to believe that she left anything that she values behind if she's willing to let it smell like rotten bait!  

in NC you would have to formally evict to remove personal property from a house. Alternately, you could get something from them in writing giving you permission to remove their things. I once had to evict someone because he would not come back for his dresser and bed. 

I would get thee to an attorney!

Yep... as others have said, you need to know the landlord-tenant law for your jurisdiction and follow proper procedure. There needs to be a clear understanding as to when you regain possession of the unit. Whenever a tenant indicates by word or action that they intend to vacate a unit, I make sure they sign a "Notice to Vacate" form, which explains keys points required by our landlord-tenant law. I even get them to sign a "Return of Possession" form after they have vacated and returned the keys; on this form is a spot for their forwarding address. The steps you can take as a landlord will vary depending on whether the tenants vacated or abandoned the unit. Next time, don't let people stay without paying rent. And if they do, serve the "Pay or Vacate" notice as soon as you can. 

Also, remember you had two tenants who may put a claim on the property. By what you shared here, I would say you jumped the gun. Always put proper closure on the tenancy in accordance with the law, before taking back possession. At this juncture, I would have her put in writing that she voluntarily vacated the unit, on behalf of all tenants named on the lease, and returned the keys and possession of the unit back to you on a specific date (the date when she told you she left the key under the mat). This will then coincide with the date you entered the unit to take back possession. In return for her signing this, drive the trailer over to her mom's house and let her pick through the stuff or unload all of the stuff there. But do double check your landlord-tenant law and/or check with an attorney to see if that would work for you. The boyfriend abandoned and the girlfriend vacated.... more complicated. Oy vey! Document everything! Luckily, both she and bf did indicate to you by word and action that they were terminating their tenancy, so that could be your saving grace.

Bet you will never make this mistake again!

Thank you for the responses. 

Well now I know what I should have done, but do you all really think that they have a legal leg to stand on? I mean, yes I could have dotted more "i"s and crossed more "T"s by getting it in writing that she was out and ending the lease. And that is what I will do from now on in every situation. Even when I dont think its necessary. 

I am also handing over the management duties to this duplex back to the company. I will only manage the 2 higher end homes I have. 

However if this did/does go to court, wouldn't it be considered that they broke the lease and abandoned the property. 

1. the utilities were cut off to the property several days before I took out all the trash (water & electricity)

2. I also found out that they never paid for garbage service and were just illegally dumping at the school dumpster across the street. (my lease says that they shall provide water,electricity & trash service the entire time the lease is active)

Since they did not, isn't that by rule breaking of the lease on their end?

4. The FB post has her picture and says "I moved out" several days before I removed the trash. 


@Sabino Gonzalez  Tenants "moving or moved out" does not mean they gave you legal possession. They still have a legal right to the property even if they are not living there.

I think your strongest defense is the fact that she told you she left the key under the floor mat. Hopefully she sent you that notice via email or text.

If it were me, I would take the trailer to her and let her pick through the stuff in exchange for a the signed agreement that @Marcia Maynard  spoke about. Agreement must be signed before she gets to start picking.

Free eBook from BiggerPockets!

Ultimate Beginner's Guide Book Cover

Join BiggerPockets and get The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Real Estate Investing for FREE - read by more than 100,000 people - AND get exclusive real estate investing tips, tricks and techniques delivered straight to your inbox twice weekly!

  • Actionable advice for getting started,
  • Discover the 10 Most Lucrative Real Estate Niches,
  • Learn how to get started with or without money,
  • Explore Real-Life Strategies for Building Wealth,
  • And a LOT more.

Lock We hate spam just as much as you

Create Lasting Wealth Through Real Estate

Join the millions of people achieving financial freedom through the power of real estate investing

Start here