Tenants rejected to cooperate with my assigned contractor

9 Replies

Hi all,

I am a real estate investment beginner in Chicago. One of my properties needs to apply the basement waterproofing work, but the tenants do not cooperate with my assigned contractor. They said that they have to work during weekdays and cannot allow any people to do the job without their presence. They also reject to pay the rent if I do not fix the basement right away. Are they playing game with me? Any suggestions?

Thanks,

Yes, they're playing games with you.  You need to take control of the relationship.  Assuming your lease covers this situation, you need to tell them when the contractor will be there and what they will be doing.    If they insist on being there when the work is being done, they need to arrange their schedules to allow that.

I gather Chicago is a pretty tenant friendly area.  So, a phone call and a discussion with your landlord tenant attorney is probably a good idea.

The tenant doesn't get to "accept" working it out with their schedule, neither do they get to "decide" to not pay rent if you don't fix something. Read your lease it probably (should) have a clause about repairs and notice. Basically it will say you'll give them notice for the repair, if they choose to be home for it great they can take off work. 

If for some reason they feel they have a complaint that allows them to not pay rent to you (like a health violation repair), then they need to follow local laws about how that is governed. Usually they have to pay the rent to the court which holds it and then they "have paid" and you couldn't evict them. Once the issue is fixed then and only then would the court disburse the funds to the LL, but it doesn't relieve the tenant of their responsibility to pay. If they just don't pay hang the "pay or quit" and move to evict.

-I see you're in Chicago which I hear is very tenant friendly, so you may very well want to talk to a local attorney to make sure you're handling everything properly. Personally it sounds like you're gonna end up in court with this tenant unless you can defuse the situation, because it sounds like they feel like they can control the situation.

Unless otherwise stated in the lease, all that is required is 24 hour notice. If they violate that, you can evict! I would suggest you evict them anyway! 

If an emergency you can enter regardless. Remember it is your property not theirs.

Hi Jon,

Thanks for your prompt answer. I checked the condition of the basement myself  and it is definitely not that serious as what they told me. It looks like that they tried to delay my assigned project on purpose so that they can reject to pay the rent. Can I give them a notice to terminate the lease? If yes, how many days' notice will be appropriate?

Thanks,

Once a tenant (unfairly) threatens rent, your relationship with them is over. Proceed accordingly with their earliest "get the hell out" date.

Stopping access to a contractor in some states is a violation of the lease as landlord has every right to ensure that the property stays in good shape and repaired.

Hi Dale,

Thanks for your answer. I plan to give them a notice and terminate the lease.

Originally posted by @Bob Zhu :

Hi Dale,

Thanks for your answer. I plan to give them a notice and terminate the lease.

 I highly suggest you don't do this.  You could play right into their hands, as they may call it a retaliatory eviction because they exercised their rights.  Granted, they'd probably be stretching the truth on that, but they might win.

So, what I would do, is give them a 3 day notice to comply or quit (or whatever the law states where your rental is), regarding allowing the contractor in.  That's where I'd start.  I'm sure there is a clause in your lease about you having the right to enter for repairs.  

And even if it's not clear in your lease, I'd do it anyway.  And the reason is, that it not only should gain you access, but it would position you in a much stronger position, if they try to take you to court or not pay their rent.  It would show that you had to force them to let you in to make repairs they were demanding be done, for one.  And, it would also show that you were certainly not being neglectful about making needed repairs, should they try to take that tact, too.

So, I'd give them a 3 day notice to comply or quit, that said something like "This is a 3 day notice to comply or quit.  Your lease requires you to allow the landlord entry to the unit to make needed repairs.  And you have been refusing access.  This is a breach of your lease, and as such, you must comply with this section of your lease and agree to allow access for needed repairs during regular daytime hours, or you must move in 3 days."

They won't see that one coming :-)

Offense instead of defense.

Hi Sue,

Thanks for your advice. My contractor has already entered the house, but they still reject to pay the rent for July.

As always, it would be a good idea to have a discussion with an attorney so you understand what you can and cannot do in your area.   You can't just terminate the lease for no reason, unless it's month to month.  If they're under a long-term lease, you can only terminate for reasons specified in the lease or by applicable law.  If they don't pay rent, you typically post a "pay or quit" notice.  If they pay, they're still your tenant.  If not, you can start an eviction on that basis.  If they leave (i.e., "quit") you're done.  Similar if they're denying access as allowed under the lease.  You would do a "cure or quit" to request they cure the violation (give you access, in this case) or leave.  But then there would be a process if they fight. 

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