Handling The Bully Tenant
I received this email from a frustrated landlord.
They are not maintaining the apartment – it is filthy. Although lease states they must maintain, isn’t this subjective and how can I hold them accountable? They are also in default with our no pet clause, and having furniture in front of an egress door; do I have to give them a notice of violations with time to correct, or can I do an immediate evict? They are very scary – threats to fall down stairs as “they know the system” and have thrown a ton of bogus allegations of needed repairs as a way of delaying rent, using rent escrow threats. They are a handful – we feel like we are out of our league with these winners! They seem to know the rental law and how to work around it better than anyone! We believe they are using drugs, but have no way to prove, as their behavior is very volatile, erratic, moody, threatening and paranoid. I, too, would appreciate any guidance on resources; I have read MN code and the Attorney General handbook, and continue to research online. I just feel very inept and want to be sure I am doing this correct and legal as they throw threats at us each and every day and I know that they will show up in court and fight anything that we do! I have contacted our lawyer for guidance, but he does not seem too versed in this area of law. Please help.
Diane called me and we talked through her issues. Essentially she has a bully tenant. Someone that is going to try to push you around whenever they get the chance. Or maybe they are not outwardly hostile, but they will push the envelope and bend all the rules (kind of like my 12 year daughter!). These tenants are very difficult to deal with. It is unnerving to be threatened and you lose sleep at night thinking about what they are doing to your investment.
Many landlords just hide and hope this will get better and that if they meet all the demands of this abusive relationship, everything will be fine. I am here to tell you; this situation is not going to get any better. Their goal is to control this relationship and potentially you. It is not much different from an abusive spouse who uses threats, intimidation and/or guilt to get what they want. Sometimes, it isn’t even that they are trying to get something out of you, it is just that they want control.
I have seen landlords wait 6+ months to do anything about these problem tenants. I was in court last month and one landlord said the tenant had not paid anything in 6 months! What? Are you kidding? This lost rent could be 2 years or more worth of profits on this property. This is not a charity. You need to receive your rent so you can pay your mortgage and bills so you can get compensated for the time and money you have put into this investment property.
The above tenant currently owes Diane just last month’s rent only. Although I am not an attorney, I told Diane that she needs to file an eviction immediately for non-payment of rent and for the lease violations (pets and operating a business out of the house). Unfortunately, I expect this bully is going to be a bigger problem before they get him out. I hated to say it, but I told her she may have to expect that he is going to destroy the house. That is just who these people are. But, as I said above, this is not going to get better. Rip the band-aid off and get it over with.
Most importantly, though, the problem will be done. Diane can repair the house and move on to find a better tenant. Thankfully we don’t see many of these types, but an eviction on his record may help the next landlord steer clear of The Bully Tenant.