Tenant threatens to kill my family

31 Replies

In june my house was home invaded and my tenant left them in a coma.  He broke the lease, lived in the house for over two weeks for free and left a mess and drug baggies all over the road.  I informed him he will not get the security deposit back.  He was mad but left me alone from July until this morning.  He left a extensive message about how my families life is in danger unless he gets his security deposit.  The police were no help...

Yeah the police are no help. "Until they actually do something"   We had this happen.. I would not advise to do what we did... You should probably return the security and take a good look at your screening process.  

Please clarify. Your post is a bit confusing. Is this former tenant from the condo you own and rent out in Miami, Florida?  Did he enter your home in Long Island, New York where your family lives? Whose home was invaded, by whom, and who was left in a coma? What would it take to get the police involved?

@Chris Berry

What did you learn from this?

We write the lease on the LLC and act like PM as much possible and for mailing address we use PO Box on the lease. For next tenant try not to be too nice!

When we had it they were small time junkies/criminals. We called their bluff... I don't fully undrestand your situation and wouldn't advise doing that. I agree though the cops did nothing. 

Originally posted by @Chris Berry :

In june my house was home invaded and my tenant left them in a coma.  He broke the lease, lived in the house for over two weeks for free and left a mess and drug baggies all over the road.  I informed him he will not get the security deposit back.  He was mad but left me alone from July until this morning.  He left a extensive message about how my families life is in danger unless he gets his security deposit.  The police were no help...

 Cops won't act on a threat that you can prove on a recorded voicemail? Hard for me to believe.  

it was the ny house the tenants lived there and someone broke in.  The tenant was defending himself and put the robber in a coma.  He left the house after the home invasion, but did not pay for three weeks, broke the lease, left the house a disaster, and left drug baggies scattered in the road with the piles of garbage.

I guess he came back to you a few months later, may be because he is broke and need the security deposit money for the drugs.

Does he know where you live?

Give him a check remark security deposit refund may be a solution.

However, after you give him back the security deposit refund, do you think he may come back and threaten you again for more money for drugs or something else?

If he does not know where you live, maybe you can pretend that you have changed your phone number already, and ignore his text messages, and do not respond back to him.

If he knows where you live,


Tough situation...

I agree with @Marcia Maynard, need a little clarification on your situation. However, as a police officer myself, it sounds like there is something you're leaving out. I won't get in to the criminal side of it as I don't know your whole story, your situation, or New York law. But it sounds like you should apply for a protection from abuse or protection from stalking order. If the police deemed they didn't have enough necessary for criminal charges, such as criminal threat, this is another route on the civil side.

It is not difficult in my municipality to get temporary restraining orders the day you apply at your local court house. This also gives police another route. Though, I'm not implying the officer you talked to wasn't just being lazy...

Best of luck in your situation.

I currently live in fl and the rental property is in ny.  The ny police said i live in fl need to file report here.  The fl police said they are not in this county theres nothing they can do i need to file report there

Is the tenant in FL? If so, I'd ignore him. He's not going to travel to NY over a security deposit.

I'd still tighten security around the house, but he is just hitting rock bottom and lashing out because he's desperate.

Wow Chris, sorry you're having to go through this.

Use your best personal judgement here but knowing the little I know about the situation I would assume it's an empty threat. This person seems used to getting his way by bullying people. I would keep the security deposit, make sure you list all the expenses/damages, and why you are keeping the deposit then send it all to him in written form to cover yourself. Maybe include the fact that you've been in touch with the police concerning his text threats. Then let that be the end of it.

I doubt an individual like this has the motivation or resources to travel across several states to follow through with his threats. If you've done all the above and are just getting this text message out of the blue I would simply not respond. You are not being paid to manage this person if they've moved out of your property. Don't waste anymore time on them than you've already had to. 

I've had nightmare tenants myself and I know it can be extremely stressful to deal with. Keep your chin up, learn from your mistakes and move on. Onward and upward my friend.

Wow. I can't believe stuff like this happens. I would not give his deposit back at all. Just be a little more on alert. Hurry and get the house rented out again. It'll blow over. I put my first renter in jail for stealing his neighbors cars to scrap for rent money. I was only 20 years old and he was a hardened criminal. I had no idea ( been doing background checks since then). His girlfriend's dad called me asking for the deposit. I said nope. He then informed me that he was going to beat my ***. I made sure that he knew that would never happen and that his deposit would never be returned. Never heard from him again.

I will not return the Security Deposit if there was more damage than the deposit paid for. As a matter of principle, I never reward bad behavior and will spend five times his deposit (if need be) to make sure he does not get the deposit back. Giving it to him means encouraging him (and maybe future tenants) to go around threatening landlords and other people in general.

Did you follow Chapter 83? If not you legally owe the deposit even though he may have done damage to your house. This is irrespective of his threat.

Updated over 3 years ago

Sorry WRONG state. Did you follow NY state laws regarding SD funds? I cannot say if his threat is empty or not, but often people say things with no intention of following through. Hopefully that is the case.

thanks for the input.  He broke the lease was the main reason for keeping the security deposit.  Ive had new tenants in for a few months, and was also concerned he would go vandalize the house or bother the new family.

@Chris Berry in my land lording history I have only dealt with a couple scary people. I gave them their security deposit back. I don't need $1000 bad enough to have some nut job hurt my family. For me it was more about not wanting to end up in court. If a tenant takes me to court, I have to pay an attorney more than the deposit. It is just a risk assessment we all have to make.

In your case I would be more concerned that he damages your property and runs your new (good) tenants out of the property. 

At this point, here is how I would handle it. I would keep pursuing with the police. I would not respond to him in ANY way and block his number. If I got more threats, I would change my phone number. I would add security cameras to my home, which any landlord should have as a precaution.  I would put security system signs in your yard and at your rental property. 

Most people are full of hot air, but addicts get desperate and do horrible things. I wish you the best.

I agree, I could care less about the money.   At the time it didn't seem he was this type of person we did not have any conflict, and he seemed upset four months ago but not violent.  If I could go back I would just give him the security deposit.  At this point I would still be willing to give him the money if it meant never hearing from him again.  Im just concerned he will get desperate again and do the same thing again.

Not 100% sure i'm following because this is a bit confusing, but from my understanding you live across the country from the tenant. If that's the case, I highly doubt a tenant is going to spend more money to make that journey over the security deposit. 

Reply to their message and say you have turned them over to the police and they have opened a case?

Most importantly, you have learned a lesson for the future....

if he is on probation, and I would bet he is, then making a terroristic threat is a violation of that probation.   And it is a lot easier to prove a violation than a new charge.  

I would contact the probation department in your area, and find his probation officer and have a frank and honest discussion.  

Your story is confusing. If I had a tenant that had a home invasion and they immediately moved out, I would assume they were afraid to live there and were suffering from PTSD or similar. If they left the house a mess, I would charge them for cleaning and a “fair” amount for giving no notice, but I would try to give them some deposit back. Maybe, “I would like to return your deposit but cleaning was x and no notice cost an extra x. But in view of the circumstances, I will split the difference and refund x of your deposit. Please find the enclosed. And best wishes.” Do you think they were dealing and one of their clients was the invader?