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yikes

Registered: 02/17/09
Posts: 383
Reply with quote  #1 
What do you do when a tenant is verbally abusive?  I have a very difficult tenant who is really insulting towards me.  I am not a confrontational person but cannot take the verbal lashings anymore. 
So far I have been very professional about it and have not responded to the insults and carrying on.  I feel I need to put a stop to this.  I just dread dealing with them because they are so volatile and nasty!

Has anyone dealt with this before?  How did you handle it?
MOON

Registered: 09/16/08
Posts: 577
Reply with quote  #2 

YES, I have had tenants get verbally abusive, in both cases they owed me money!! Do they owe you money or in violation of their lease? This is a defensive mechanism to intimidate you from dealing with the issue at hand.with one tenant I had my husband step in. It helped temporarily but I ended up asking them to leave before I started the eviction process, I had to evict the other. But in both cases they owed us money so I had grounds for eviction.Do you have grounds for eviction, what is making them abusive?   

yikes

Registered: 02/17/09
Posts: 383
Reply with quote  #3 
Thanks, Moon.  As of now they are not in violation of their lease (I don't think) but currently they have moved out and want to find a replacement renter.  I actually posted about this several months ago when this all came about.  She decided she was going to just leave town and figured we'd say 'okay' but we didn't - we reminded her that she is in a lease with us, that we are holding her to the lease until it expires.  We told her that if she wants to terminate the lease early she has two options: she can find a qualified replacement renter to take over the duration of her lease, or she can pay a buyout fee of a few mos rent and the costs of a managment co to advertise and show the place. 
She ended up declining the buyout offer and said she'd find a replacement tenant on her own.
Well, that was back in February.  Now it is almost May.  Since then I get angry calls and emails, all about her personal life, how her money isn't 'play money', and how she had horrible judgement in renting my place, it's overpriced, no one that sees it likes it because it's ugly, and all sorts of personal information and screaming about stuff that has nothing to do with the unit or my responsibilities as a landlord at all.   Keep in mind that she keeps the place a total disaster area - food and dog feces on the floor, stuff piled up so high that people can't get into the rooms to take a good look.  And I've gotten many emails from frustrated people who claim that they can't get a hold of anyone and that no one is returning their calls, but they are very interested in the place (my email is the default email because I place the ads).  I've done some showings on her behalf, but it's really just a waste of my time because the place is so gross.  It was all new before she moved in.
When I am professional in response to her tirades, she just keeps going on and on about her personal issues, yelling like they are somehow my fault.
She is paying her rent, however.  I'm just tired of these freak outs.  I feel like I am being verbally abused, for real!  And I am stuck just 'taking it'.  Frustrating.
MOON

Registered: 09/16/08
Posts: 577
Reply with quote  #4 

YES - I remember now - well I would say you have won since you got her to continue paying rent especially through the winter & she has definetly been trying to wear you down with the verbal abuse hoping you would just go away & leave her alone. If she has been paying you monthly since then just make your deposits & let her keep barking, it could have been alot worse. I really do not know if you can do anything legally to her for verbal abuse. If she were to do harm to you or your property on purpose that would another story, talk to an attorney or the police dept. regarding verbal abuse. But truthfully I think you have won the war, you got her to pay for the winter, its spring !! you'll be done with her soon     

yikes

Registered: 02/17/09
Posts: 383
Reply with quote  #5 
Thanks, Moon.  Yes, I'm thinking of having a party when she is officially no longer our tenant.  LOL!
Yeah, I'm not looking to take legal action or anything like that, just wondering how people handle these situations - if they just remain professional and ignore it (as I have been doing) or if it gets to the point where you should say, 'look, I'm not going to be spoken to like this, I will deal with you when you have calmed down' and just hang up!

It just seems so wrong to have to be treated so horribly and talked to like this in a 'professional' relationship.  It's crazy.
Sam

Registered: 05/29/08
Posts: 563
Reply with quote  #6 
Yes, I would say "I refuse to listen to you talk to me this way, I'll talk to you when you calm down" and hang up.  That is the best way to handle that if she wants to be heard, she has to do it on your terms.  I have been in customer service for 25 years and I can tell you that is the only way to deal with irate people, because if they want to be heard, they then have no choice.  There have been times I've had to hang up on the same person repeatedly until they "get it" and decide to try to talk nice.

Take the reigns away from her, and make her comply to YOUR terms!
MOON

Registered: 09/16/08
Posts: 577
Reply with quote  #7 

Oh well yes - absolutely tell them to back off !! I have hung up on them walked away from them & from time to time yelled back at them ( not that I recommend that ) But you should most definetely tell them not to speak to you that way.. She probably has had alot of practice manipulating people to leave her alone by abusing them. You must be really ticking her off - she has wasted her best stuff on you & you did not cave.When I learned to pull back & evaluate why & what they are trying to achieve - I do not take it as personally as I once did. But it is still aggravating.    

yikes

Registered: 02/17/09
Posts: 383
Reply with quote  #8 
Thanks so much guys.  I am glad to hear that I can set some boundaries.  I definitely don't want to argue with her, and some of the stuff she says really puts me on the defensive (when someone starts saying how ugly the thing you spend several months remodeling is for example!) but I just bite my lip because I don't want to stoop to that level.  But from now on I'm going to say 'I'm not going to listen to this' and cut her off and quickly.

I'll be honest - I've dealt with very difficult people before and total crazies, but I've never had the misfortune of dealing with someone who is so hateful.  I mean, if I were not making repairs or I was slacking off in that way I suppose that might happen but I'm doing my job and just get blasted by this person all. the. time.  And, yeah, she is very angry because I held my ground and didn't just say 'fine, get out of here then'.  I'm sure that's what she's hoping for - that she could get out of this if she was mean enough.  I haven't gotten angry despite her best efforts to make me angry (not to her face anyway) and I think that makes her even more mad.  LOL.
Thanks again so much, I'm a new landlord and prepared myself for the legal and financial aspects of it all, but was not prepared for this part of the job!
rkkeller

Registered: 04/07/08
Posts: 761
Reply with quote  #9 
If she has already moved out, dont even take her calls.  If you do answer, say politely you have someone over or long distance on the other line and cant talk now, you will call her back and hang up.  Get CallerID if you do not already have it.

If she is threatoning or harassing you to the point its illegal, call the police and file a report on her and take her to court.  If your not sure its illegal call the police and ask.

Forget letting her find a replacement tenant as when you turn one down due to them not being qualified or for anything, its just going to get worse and she will probably claim she found someone and tough. 

Start advertising and looking yourself, never let the tenant control the situation as do you really want her choice in your tenant ?

Think about it, she is also controlling your property by paying the rent and not living there.  She can do anyting she wants with or to it.

Do you want her to remain in control, badger you plus control who the next tenant is ?

Not me.

I might even go as far to tell her I found someone just to get rid of her and her stuff so you can clean and fix the place.  Send a letter saying like agreed I am letting you out of your lease, you have already rerented it, they are moving in on X and please have all her stuff out and the place cleaned by then.

yikes

Registered: 02/17/09
Posts: 383
Reply with quote  #10 
Thanks, rkkeller.  She is not harrassing us, she is just very irate and rude, uses foul language when we try and work with her she isn't open to it she just insults us and complains.  Stupidly, when this started, we were open to helping her with showings, etc but she was so nasty toward me I said, 'fine, you are on your own then'.  So she did a number on herself.  In my state a landlord has no duty to mitigate damages in this situation.  She is not very old - 21 or so.  She pays her rent on time and I'm not going to kick her out over her nasty disposition toward me, but I am going to cut her off next time she starts up.
Good to know that if she does start harrassing I can file a report.  Hopefully it won't get to that.
rkkeller

Registered: 04/07/08
Posts: 761
Reply with quote  #11 
Just because you dont have to doesnt always mean you shouldn't.  :>

This is your decision though.  I wouldnt want to be tied up like that and would want her out of my life and my place cleaned up.

My last tenant asked to leave a month early and I was more than glad to see her go.

A tenant or two back I had a old woman that was like your tenant and I told her after 7-8 months "I am sorry your not happy here, I will let you out of your lease and please move".
yikes

Registered: 02/17/09
Posts: 383
Reply with quote  #12 
Thanks.  How long does it take, generally, for you to rent out your units?  I'm in blustery cold MN, so I find that, in the summertime, I get lots of interest and it takes a month or two to rent out, but in the wintertime, it's pretty much hopeless. 
Now that it's spring things should go more quickly, but I figured if I let her go when she wanted to leave (January) I would pretty much guarantee myself a vacancy through March (at least).  The buyout offer we presented to her accounted for a few mos vacancy through the winter - but she thought it excessive and turned it down.   But it really has been my experience that trying to find a renter in the wintertime here is really difficult.  I tell my tenants when they sign the lease that the lease can end when they'd like, just as long as it doesn't end in the wintertime.  I explained this to this tenant before she signed the lease, and she was fine with that.  Her lease was to expire at the end of September.
Anyway, if it only took a couple of showings and a month or so to find someone, I might have handled this differently.  I just bought the place last year and have mortgage payments to make monthly and can't afford to have a vacant unit for months.
OHlandlord

Registered: 01/20/07
Posts: 3,537
Reply with quote  #13 
We have the same problem in OH.  No one wants to move in the winter.  Snow, ice, sleet, too much trouble to move your stuff in that weather.  Pretty well dead from November to Feb. or March.  I've rented a few places during those months but it isn't easy.

Don't tell your tenants they can move anytime they want to so long as it isn;t winter.  Defeats the purpose of having a lease.  Tell them, if you must, that you will discuss a lease break possibility if they need to, but say no more.  No promises of being able to break a lease.
yikes

Registered: 02/17/09
Posts: 383
Reply with quote  #14 
Glad to hear it's not just me.  This tenant has been complaining that no one likes the unit (which I know isn't true as the ads generate a lot of interest and I rented it after a couple weeks of showings last fall, which I don't think is too bad...?) but I am a bit paranoid that maybe it's the unit because the bedrooms are a bit small (the building is quite old) and that can turn some people off.   But, yeah, wintertime is brutal for trying to find a renter.  We bought this property as a short sale - the previous owner said she got behind in her mortgage because she had a couple vacancies in the wintertime and had to accept a lot less rent than she normally does because she couldn't find anyone else.

I probably didn't explain the lease thing the right way.  People ask if we require a one year lease, and we explain to them that it doesn't have to be a year exactly, but that we just don't want the lease to expire in the wintertime.  So if they move in in Sept, we're fine with a year lease, but if they move in in Dec, then we'd either have a lease run through Sept (10 mos) or through to the next spring - say April - which would be 16 mos.  So we do write up definite term leases, tenants aren't allowed to leave whenever, they are expected to fulfill the term of their lease, but it might not be exactly one year should they move in in the wintertime.  Most people are fine with that anyway because, like you said, no one wants to move in the winter.

OHlandlord

Registered: 01/20/07
Posts: 3,537
Reply with quote  #15 

I understand now!  I do the same thing.  No one wants a lease that expires in winter.

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