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6 Unusual Tenant Issues That Will Send You Scrambling For Solutions
If we live in an uncivilized and unfair world, you could probably chase out tenants whenever you want, however you want, without getting into trouble. And if we are in the dinosaur-age, you might club a tenant over the head and drag him out of your cave as long as you don’t like him.
Laws differ from country to country and state to state. You should always check with a proper lawyer on any action and advice regarding legal matters.
It is a good thing that we have civilized with time. But unusual and extraordinary tenant situations can still come up from time to time that will send you scampering for your landlording textbook to find an answer or solution which you do not have the answer to. Don’t worry if any of these situations listed below looks alien and have yet to come up for you. As you spend more time in this business, one or all of them will surely appear in your in-tray one day.
Bankruptcy is commonly viewed by people as being an instance where the bankrupt owed so much money to creditors that they have been forced into bankruptcy. But for many people, bankruptcy is a choice that they make consciously. This presents a very tricky situation for you.
You should check with a legal expert on the laws in your land about eviction.
In some states, if your tenant files for bankruptcy during the process of eviction, they are granted an automatic stay. This will immediately halt your plans for eviction. There are remedies you can undertake to acquire permission to proceed with eviction. But it will take a lot of time for everything to fall into place. There are many other details which you should definitely seek the professional advice from a lawyer. Make your own bankruptcy check to verify it.
Remember to always hire a good lawyer who has experience in real estate laws. The smallest mistakes you make can result in huge delays even though you feel badly cheated that someone is living in your property for free.
Don’t neglect your responsibilities and obligations as a landlord. It could be tempting to make a non-paying tenant’s life hell. But remember that you are always liable for anything that happens in your property. This means that if someone gets hurt from your negligence to maintain and repair your house, you can still be sued. If you fail to respond to maintenance, the tenant might even use that as a defence to your eviction action.
If you are considering drastic action like changing the locks or switching off the power, please do not do that. We live in a civilized world and there are laws that protect tenants from such barbaric landlord actions. The gross irony you feel now will be nothing compared what you will feel if you are at the end of counter legal suit against you from the tenant. Your lawyer is your best friend.
Premature termination of lease
Before you jump for joy thinking that you will be collecting a year of rental for a 9-month tenant stay like a retrenchment benefit, think again. In many places, you do not have the automatic right to demand the balance payment of a legally binding tenancy agreement.
The first thing you can do is make sure the tenant is really giving up the property. Then make a real attempt to re-rent the property. This is so that you can show you have taken real action to alleviate the balance which you would have made otherwise. Document all these activities. This will help your case if you indeed end up in court.
Don’t forget that although you might feel justified to claim the balance rentals as the contract is in black and white, the tenant can use the contract against you as well. For example, a tenant may have the legitimate rights to vacate the property prematurely if you did not maintain it in a liveable condition, landlord harassment, or you might have unknowingly breach the contract yourself. In some places, there are state laws that allow a tenant to leave legitimately under certain circumstances like job transfers or military requirements. Again, check with your attorney.
It don’t always happen. But when they do, they can bring hell. One of the common domestic problems is violence or a vengeful boyfriend who insist on living in the property. He is one of the listed tenants after all. In desperation for help, one of the tenants may request that you change locks or get security to refuse entry of the other party. You cannot agree to these requests no matter how pitiful the emotionally-strained girlfriend appear to be. To act on this, there must be a proper court order or restraining order to justify your actions as a landlord. If the other party does agree to the request of the requesting tenant, make sure you get it down in writing and endorsement.
Illegal holdover tenants
Holdover tenants are those that do not leave and vacate your property as agreed in the contract. And they are not paying any rental. If you run into this weird occurrence, you will now know that real estating is not a computer game which all parties will do what they are expected to as stated in a contract. Again what you can or cannot do, or what you need to do depends on the legislation of the land.
Clever tenants might attempt to pay you rental to justify their overstay. But if you are insistent that they leave the premises, make a mental note to never cash in the rental cheques. Depositing the cheques in your account is accustom to accepting the tenant’s stay on a rolling month-to-month contract. Meaning you have no basis to proceed with eviction. Check the local laws with your attorney.
So you think that you are clever person trying to get out of the rat race via landlording. Rental collections will cover your costs and more. Well your tenant might just have the same idea as you. A tenant might want to sublease your apartment to more tenants. You will of course have the option to agree to it in the first place.
When you run into subleasing request from your tenant, take note of an important point. You only are authority and legal rights over your tenant. Not the sub-tenant. This means that you cannot sue or make claims against the new tenants. It can already be a messy affair in a 2-way relationship. It can get messier if a third party comes into the picture. So think carefully before you agree to subleasing.
Related to subleasing is an assignment. But they are different things. Assignment usually happens when a tenant has to leave and wants to re-assign the existing lease to a new tenant. By agreeing to this, you will release the existing tenant from any liabilities and the new tenant becomes responsible.
If you outright refuse any request for subleasing and assignment, you might find it hard to convince a judge that you have explored all avenues to alleviate your “loss”.
Roommates parting ways
When you rent to roommates, there is always a chance that one of them have to leave to pursue their commitments or career. When this happens, you will usually receive a request to return half the security deposit. You will of course, refuse to do that.
Inform your tenants that they have to resolve these issues of equity between themselves. If all parties, including you, decides to make amendments to the rental contract, get the departing tenant to sign a document to release your from any liability. Then renegotiate the new tenancy agreement.