Tenants Stay, Eviction Evicted.
Your tenants have been late on rent 4 months in a row. They’ve never paid the late fee, they have barely been able to come up with the rent! Now it’s the 5th month in a row and you’ve had it. You deliver a ‘Demand For Rent’ notice to your tenants and you include on the notice all the past due late fees from the past 5 months plus rent for this month. The tenant doesn’t pay and you promptly file the eviction based on the notice you posted. The tenant files a response with the court – it looks like you’ll be fighting this out in front of a judge. There’s a strong chance you’ll lose in court and you might have to start the process all over again. Do you know why?
Cujo…The Emotional Support Animal?
You recently discovered your tenants got a dog. Your neighbor Dotty called you, livid about your tenants and their mean dog that almost bit her and almost ate “fluffy”. You do not allow pets at your rental property and this dog sounds like trouble. When you confront your tenants about the newest member of their family, they promptly respond that “it’s an emotional support animal” or ESA. Your pet policy specifically prohibits any pets at the property (you have allergies and might move into the property in a few years!) – so you post a violation notice. The tenants do not remove the dog, so you move to evict them. What should you have done here? Might you be in violation of Fair Housing or the Americans With Disabilities Act?
Treble the Tenants…Treble The Damages.
You have 3 roommates for tenants. They’ve been in your property for a few years, but the tenants have come and gone and new roommates have taken the place of old ones. You never worry about it because they always pay on time and there are no complaints from the neighbors. Finally, the current tenants decide to move out and they turn in the keys when their lease expires. You perform a move out inspection and you determine you are going to charge the tenant’s security deposit for cleaning. You send the claim form (per state law) outlining the charges to the tenant who paid the security deposit. Soon after, you receive a summons to small claims court, and the tenant is suing you for 3 times the security deposit claim. What’s going to happen? Will you really have to pay them back 3 times their security deposit and pay for the damages to your property out of pocket?
Don’t Forget To Waiv-er Your Eviction Goodbye!
Your tenants always pay rent on time, but they never mow the lawn! You’ve called and emailed them multiple times, but it’s always a challenge. They keep promising you they will take care of it, but they never do. Finally, on the 20th of the month you decide you’ve had enough and you post a ‘Notice of Lease Violation’, indicating that if the lawn is not mowed, you may file an eviction. The tenants pay rent on the 1st which they always do. You accept the money, and you go back to the property on the 5th only to find the grass is waist high! You file the eviction based on your notice of violation for the lawn. The tenants contest the eviction action on the grounds of waiver. It looks like they know an attorney. Will your eviction attempt be successful? Why not?
Your Repair Process Is Broken.
Your tenants constantly have repair requests. You’re a nice landlord and you want to keep your tenants happy but you believe they are being very hard on your house and you’ve reached your limit. Finally, one day they call you to tell you the toilet is backed up. You’re SURE they put something (or their kids put something) down the toilet and you tell them “call a plumber”. The tenants call a plumber. Your next month’s rent is $800 short and accompanied by an $800 receipt from Joe’s Plumbing for an emergency repair to “clear the line”. What do you do? Do you know what your lease says about this? What does the law say about it?
Pests…and The Warranty of Habitability.
Your tenants call you and they are freaking out. They tell you that there is an ant “infestation” in their kitchen and you need to send an exterminator out asap! You’re not sure what to do, so you call the pest control company out to the property asap. Problem solved, right? Two months later, the tenants call with the exact same issue—ants! Now the tenants are threatening to report you as a slum lord—they threaten to call the local news and the applicable state agencies. What do you do? What can you do? What does your lease say? What if instead of ants, the tenants reported mice? Bed bugs? How are these different and what are your legal obligations?