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dreita09

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Posts: 5
Reply with quote  #1 
Being a new landlord, I need some advice about what to do with nuisance tenents.  It has only been 1 month and we have received about 20 calls in this one month period.  The calls have ranged from reasonable to completely unbelievable that now we cannot determine whether they are "crying wolf" or have a real problem.  They called saying that the hot water heater (which is 6 months old) is broken and come to find out they were just running the water too long.  It is a 45 gallon tank for a 1.5 bathroom house?!?  Then they called my husband saying that the toilet was broken....he went over and there was brown water with "stuff" floating in the toilet and it just needed to be plunged!  When they called about a big leak in the basement pipe....we found out it was from them pulling the pipe out too far to attach their washing machine and it was only a small drip.  We dropped everything to run over and that is what we found. I have tried talking to them about the numerous calls, but they don't agree and say they should feel like they can call over anything.  We have a year lease with these tenets which just began, but my husband just wants to try and sell the property and be done with the whole "landlord" thing.  I am sorry to ramble, but I just need some help. 
First for my husband- we even able to sell the property if we have a year lease with them?
Second-How would you deal with this type of tenet without seaming like an unresponsive landlord?  Are we able to have any protection from going to their house if they "stretch" the truth or are the cause of the problem?????

THANKS! 
OHlandlord

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Posts: 3,804
Reply with quote  #2 
First, you can sell the house, but the new owner will be subject to honoring the lease with them.  Some people don't want to buy investment properties with tenants in place for just this reason.  They might get stuck honoring a lease with PITA tenants.  So it may take some doing to sell it.

Second, to slow down the complaints, start calling them back and asking questions to ascertain how bad the problem is.  If the washer pipe is leaking, have them shut off the valve to it and you can check it the next day.  They can always put a bucket under the drip.  Try to find out how bad the problem is before you drop everything to go over there (ask lots of questions, innocently of course).  If the problem turns out to be something they have done, like stopping up the toilet and not plunging, give them the bill for a service call.  One or two of those (with you subtracting the amount of the bill from the next rent payment they make before they can pay the rent) is all it will take.  If they don't pay enough to cover the rent and the service call, the rent wasn't paid in full.  Ooops, late fees are owed now.  After a month or two, you can evict.  Additionally, require every request except emergencies to be made in writing.  These types of tenants are lazy and will not bother to write up stuff after once or twice.

If in doubt about any item, send a professional there (Plumber, electrician, etc.)  When they find nothing wrong, give the bill to the tenants to pay.  (Do like the above bills, subtract from their rent payment.)  If they call, look at caller ID and let the machine get it.  If not an emergency, take your time calling them back.  Once they get the idea that you are not at their beck and call, that they must put it all in writing, and that they will be billed for their damages and when nothing is wrong, they will stop calling.

In future, screen more thoroughly to try to cull these types out.  See what happens and let us know.
dreita09

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Posts: 5
Reply with quote  #3 

Thank you so much for the great advice!  I really appreciate it...as you can see by the time of my posting this is really keeping me up at night.  Thanks again!  (I can see this landlord thing creating a cynic out of me...I guess I am a little naive when it comes to trusting people.) 

OHlandlord

Registered:
Posts: 3,804
Reply with quote  #4 
The first year of LLing is tough.  It is a new learning experience and you will find that you have a lot to learn.  (After all , it is like taking a new job.)  Tell your husband to be patient for now.  You have to be a little bit of a cynic with tenants.  Some will tell you anything they can think of, just to get in the door.  Check out everything that a tenant tells you.  Screen exceptionally well - criminal history/background checks, eviction/judgement history, verify all employment/IDs/and wages, check credit reports, verify former addresses/landlords, check to be sure you are actually talking to the LL (they will have a friend pose as one), etc.  It didn't used to be this hard to check out a tenant, but there are so many "professional tenants" (scammers) out there now that you have to be careful.  Since you are new, I would suggest a couple of things...

* Join a local LL association or local chapter of REIA and attend the meetings.  They will keep you informed on what legislation is being written by your state and local governments that will affect you. This will also give you a sounding board to bounce ideas off of and verify the correct procedures for things like evictions in your area.  (They're also great for recommending eviction attorneys, tax accountants, etc.)  You will find that your taxes are more complicated with rentals and there are a LOT of tax breaks you can get for owning them.

* Read landlord discussion forums like this one.  There may be one specifically for your state. Search the net for others, but try just reading & lurking in the background for a while.  Not all of these forums are helpful or nice to newcomers.  But just reading and researching old posts will give you a lot of knowledge about LLing.

* Read several books from the library on the subject.  NOLO has several excellent books including Every LLs Legal Guide and another about legal tax deductions (I forget the title).  Also Landlording by Leigh Robinson.  These will clue you in on what to expect.

* Lastly, gain knowledge!  This is probably the most important, read your states Landlord-Tenant law.  From this and the NOLO books know exactly what you need to do and what the time frames are in your state for: terminating for non-payment of rent & for violating lease clauses (they are different), returning the deposit, what you can deduct from the deposit, what clauses/wording you MUST include in your leases, how to include rules for tenants, what a move in/out condition sheet should include, how to protect yourself from tenant damages and claims, what your tax deductions are (maximize them), etc.  Study the advantages & disadvantages of leases vs. month to month agreements.  If you don't already have one, purchase a digital camera.  (You will use it constantly to document damages, conditions of the unit, lease violations, etc.)  I carry mine almost all the time.  (Comes in handy when you have it in the car and are in or see a car accident too.)  If you need any help, feel free to ask.  Most LLs are more than happy to help.  Good luck to you.
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