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The Tenant From Hell and What To Do About Them

You hope it never happens but you just might find you have leased an apartment or house to the tenant from hell. You know who these folks are. You just may not know it when you first lease to them.

The tenant from hell is the one who trashes the place. They have too many animals, against your rules. They hoard, and improperly dispose of trash - if they dispose of it. They suddenly have extra children, or a new roommate, or family members, that you never got to check out.

Some of these hellacious tenants are fearsome people. If you are a small owner who does most of your management yourself, it can be intimidating to confront them with a problem.

As a landlord or property manager, you are well within your rights to deal with problems caused by this type of tenant. In fact you have an obligation to do so.

You have the right to collect rent due to you, and to enter the property for emergencies. You also have the right and obligation to ensure that the property is properly maintained. For example, if you give a tenant notice that pest control will be there on a certain day and time, and to secure pets, the pest control service should not arrive to find that locks or codes are changed and the attack dog is at the door. They should also not be denied entry when you have given proper notice in writing.

Eventually, you may need the assistance of law enforcement to evict your tenant for nonpayment of rent or destruction of property. Follow the procedures in your state and location for eviction, and document everything in writing. Send notices of rent due and other infractions in writing. Offer solutions, if possible, for problems with payment or maintenance, such as a payment schedule, or a one time cleaning service.

When all else fails, local law enforcement will be the ones to serve the eviction notice. Tenants are generally given a date by which they have to be out. Your risk here is that they will cause more damage than they already have. You cannot forcibly remove their property yourself. Local law enforcement must serve a Writ of Possession which gives the unit back to the landlord, along with all items in it. Generally, once a Writ of Possession is posted, the tenant has 24 hours to clear out.

If you are afraid that the tenant will cause further destruction to the property once they are served with a Writ of Possession, contact your local law enforcement. They may have some solutions for preventing opportunities for further damage.

How do you avoid encountering the tenant from hell? There is no 100% foolproof method, but thorough background and credit checks, and references help. In addition, forming a friendly but firm ongoing communication with the tenant can forestall misunderstandings.

By John Austin

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