Tenants son having many people at apartment constantly

18 Replies

Hi, this is my first post here, thank you for any help you can give me, in advance! 

We have a duplex that we rent out.  There is a single bedroom unit on the first floor, and a three bedroom unit taking over the top two floors.  This is a very nice building in an area that is going through redevelopment.  The building was completely remodeled when we bought it 6 years ago. 

The big upstairs unit is rented to a woman who is very nice, and always pays her rent on time.  When she signed the lease, my husband specified that she and her son were the only ones allowed to live there. 

Recently, we've been hearing that she is staying elsewhere for long periods of time, and her son basically lives there alone (he is old enough at 18 or so) with many people constantly coming and going.  We've been told that they are up and loud until 3-4am. 

We talked to the mother about the noise issue, and she talked to her son, but he is acting out and slamming doors etc when he knows the first floor tenant is home.  Previously, we had to deal with the son smoking pot in the common area, but that seems to have stopped upon our request.  Pretty sure the group he is hanging with is not a bunch of upstanding citizens. 

The upstairs tenant that we are having issues with has her lease coming up soon, but she wants to renew.  We were happy to renew, until we heard about this new situation.

My husband was considering just raising the rent to accommodate all of these people, with the other option being to just refuse to renew. 

It's a little scary having both units open at once (first floor tenant is leaving this month, her lease is up). We also will have to replace the carpets (the sons room is COVERED in stains), and it's going to be pretty pricey. The upstairs unit is bigger than many SFH, so getting it ready will be a decent sum.

My other thought, was what if we put them on a month-to-month?  Then, if we hear anything about this continuing to be a problem, we can just not renew. 

Here is my list of pros and cons for each issue:

Raising rent:

Pros: more rent, will not replace carpets right now, won't be empty, less hassle
Cons: If this pattern continues, we will not be able to attract quality tenants downstairs, and the place will lose it's value overall.   Potential for damage to the house done by these kids.  

Not renewing:

Pros:  Headache over with, can probably raise rent a bit
Cons: Cost to get place rentable, having both units empty at once, dealing with potential fallout from angry son, potentially purposefully causing damage.

Month to Month:

Pros: Can potentially keep us from having both units empty, can choose to not renew as soon as it's clear the problem won't be solved, won't require an eviction if things go awry. 
Cons: concerns of property damage still apply. 

If we do choose to do month to month, should we be explicit in why we are taking this route?  The hope would be that the mother would take this seriously in this case?

What are your thoughts?  Thanks in advance!  

For your bottom tenants they should not be able to hear the foot stomping or door slamming if the unit was properly soundproofed or at least not enough for it to bother them.  This will be your opportunity to do it right when they move out.  As for your upstairs tenants definitely do not renew.  I would put them on a month to month and let them know why.  I look to the good in people and hope things will change.  The other reason to do this is if you are tight on funds.  If you have the reserves which you should have built into your business plan and you are in this for the business of making money, then let them go because it all comes down to whats best for the property to make you money.

I have to disagree about noise upstairs not bothering downstairs units.  Been there.  Unless you're talking about foot thick concrete, it will sound like  a herd of elephants upstairs.

What I would do is ask the downstairs unit if they would stay if you got rid of the upstairs problem.  Odds are good, that's why they're moving.  And you won't be able to keep tenants in the downstairs unit as long as the upstairs problem is there.  And imagine trying to show it to applicants with the helion and his friends hanging around.  And if they ask you if the place is quiet, you better be prepared for a major storm, if you lie and they move in and the insanity continues.  

So, can you raise their rent enough to make up for a vacant unit downstairs on a very regular basis, or until they move?  Yeah, didn't think so.  Get rid of them.  And ask the downstairs tenant if they will stay with the upstairs problem taken care of.  In fact, if you really like the downstairs tenant, offer them a deal they can't refuse to stay.  Even a month's rent free for putting up with the problem until they are gone - if they renew their lease or something like that.  Ask them what it would take to make them stay until you can get rid of the problem.

What a pain.  Good luck.


With my 10+ years of experience speaking as a self-managing investment property owner, here's what you do:  Do not, I repeat, do not renew her lease.  She and her son are gone!  You are NOT running a Dorothy Day house for her son and his misfit friends.  Her absence at the property is putting the safety of her son AND the tenant below in jeopardy!  You are looking at a lawsuit of some kind coming your way.  Get rid of them now, so that you can keep your good tenant below.  

Here's your letter:

Dear Tenant:

Thank you for your tenancy over the last X year(s).  I am writing to inform you that I have decided to not renew your lease.  Per the terms of your lease, I will begin showing the apartment in X days.  


Rachel Lamory

Short and to the point resulting in zero legal grounds to sue you.  Get them gone now while you have the chance or, trust me, you will regret it. 


I am just sitting hear thinking . What would I have done at 18 years old If I had the house all to my self knowing mom was gone for a few days .   ................  Unfortunatly I had younger sisters who couldnt keep their mouths shut .

Thank you for the advice.  I also don't know what I would have to do to make the first floor sound proof.  

My husband wants to attempt to appeal to the mother again.  Before this situation with her not staying at the home much, she's been great.

I'm going to read him your replies.

Thank you!

Haha, Matthew!  That's why I moved out at 18!

@Sue K.

 Im not talking about total quiet where you wont hear anything, but it will be enough that it will not be something to keep you up at night.  I have lived in an up and down townhouse, up and down multi and stayed in 2 story houses.  Never had a problem with hearing load slamming of doors, yelling or stomping.  The 2 story though you could hear yelling and doors slamming as the lower floors are not sealed off.  Then again hawaii houses are built differently and we dont wear shoes in the house so I guess softer stomping ;).  Though I remember watching the show income property once and they did sound proofing for their basement unit and tested it with a decibel reader and it cut down the sound a lot.  You know what I retract my statement because assuming that the subject property is an older house with lots of space in the walls there is no way to fully contain the sound from traveling without putting a lot of money into it. 

yes, I would imagine the expense wouldn't be worth it.  I lived there myself for 2 years, so I have an idea of the amount of noise you can hear, and I think it's reasonable for an apartment.

We've never had a problem before, and the downstairs tenant never complained until after the mom basically left.. I imagine there is music playing etc, but I don't know for sure.

Downstairs tenant told us that she was leaving because she was buying a house, not sure how much is due to upstairs tenant.  If I am remembering correctly she gave us pretty advance notice that she would not be renewing, long before her noise complaints started.

I do like the ideas mentioned about getting her to stay, otherwise.  I like that kind of flexibility.

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Good or bad you need to get rid of the upstairs son. Actually if I read this right he is not the person you rented to his mother is.  If she is not staying there , she has abandoned the rental and left you her son. 

Our lease has the number of tenants listed on it. each addition is another $100 a month. (I'm not sure that is enough). The few times it has become an issue the extra squatter has left as soon as we asked for the rental increase. If you not careful you will have a squatter house of free coming and going under the moms name.      

Sounds like mother is over dealing with the son and his shenanigans.

The decision making part of the male brain and reasoning doesn't fully develop until about age 25.

So there is a lot of stupid that can occur in 7 years time............ : )

If you think your unit is trashed now just wait until they throw some parties there. I have heard about immature children ruining their parents credit and doing crimes etc. For the noise a lot of older buildings have insulation that thins out over the years in the walls which makes you hear every little noise.  

The bottom tenants left for a reason. And my guess us that with this particular upstairs tenant, you will ALWAYS have a hard time keeping a downstairs tenant. It might be financially painful to have both units vacant at the same time, but the problems being introduced by the upstairs tenant can only be solved by making that tenant go. 

To make your rental management (and your life) headache-free, you must get rid of the headache causing tenants ... find good tenants and life will go more smoothly. 

@Rachel Lamory Since she is moving to buy, why don't you offer her the option to stay month-to-month, until she can move into her new home?  She may stay long enough to keep some money rolling in until you get rid of the upstairs problem.  And tell her you're working on getting them out, too, so she won't just move into the Extended Stay Hotel lol.

@Rachel Lamory

You should bite the bullet and not renew the lease.

Honestly, if there's already damage ... it's not ever going to become less damaged without your intervention.

If she's looking to buy a house, it may be difficult to get her to move out unless the timing works out perfectly.  In my experience, when the landlord terminates the lease, it's not always easy to get them out, but it's worth it.  Especially in the Pittsburgh Metro, it's easy to find good tenants!

you're right, we have had mostly good luck with tenants to this point..  

It sucks because she herself is a good tenant and you can tell that she cares about what we think.  She clearly cleaned a ton before we had an appraiser over a few months ago.. The place looked great.  

Even her dog is good!   Darn kids ruin everything!

Originally posted by @Rachel Lamory :

you're right, we have had mostly good luck with tenants to this point..  

It sucks because she herself is a good tenant and you can tell that she cares about what we think.  She clearly cleaned a ton before we had an appraiser over a few months ago.. The place looked great.  

Even her dog is good!   Darn kids ruin everything!

 I've been thinking about your situation, and my initial thinking was the same thing - that the mom is great, and it's the kid that's bad.  But, really, she's not a great tenant.  She is letting people, including her son, take over her apartment and disturb your other tenants and the neighborhood, while she bails and stays somewhere else.  The more I think about it, this is on her.  She needs to deal with the people staying in her apartment disrupting everyone, whether they're her kid and his friends or not.  And she deserves the consequences if she doesn't.  

Sad, but true, I'm afraid.  Perhaps this is the consequence that will make her either get him in line or kick him out.  But, she's responsible for what happens in that apartment.

I guess I'm feeling the tough love this morning :-)

Raising rent is just putting a bandaid on the actual issue, the son. The mother doesn't care, quite obviously since she is staying away from home. In no way fashion, shape, or form is it a good idea to keep these people. Deny them the lease renewal

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