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spencer

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Posts: 5
Reply with quote  #1 
Hi,

I am new to the site and hoping you all can help me with some difficult situations. We have a property with 2 houses on it. A large one in front and smaller in back. We had a tenant in the back, who said they thought there was mold about a month ago. We responded immediately, went to check to see...but could not gain access as the dog was free and we did not want to enter. When we tried to set up another appointmnet, the tenant said that he had a relative come to check and it was not mold, but a small rodent that had gotten in and then passed. His relative had removed it and they said the smell was gone and all was fine.

Soon after, they saw that the tenant in the front house was moving out and said they wanted to switch. We told them that was not possible. Since then, they have created a bunch of bizarre situations (getting into a screaming match with front tenant over parking); now claiming the place is mold and rodent infested, calling us up and screaming (when we finally give up on trying to figure out next steps and hang up, they claim we are uncooperative). Basically, we feel like we are good landlords--only have a few places and try to respond immediately to needs as we can--but this tenant now stopped payment on the last rent check, and has emailed us that he has contacted the health department, the building department, and a host of other agencies. They have not moved out, and all I really want is for them to be OUT. I dont think I can rent out the front place while they are there, and I am not even sure as to how to proceed to get in to test for mold or rodents (i dont think these things are necessarily true--but I would definitely want any issues like this immediately resolved).

I contacted our lawyer to find out what is the appropriate path forward legally. Do I start eviction process (or will this just make them angrier--if thats even possible); do I try to contact them to set up times to have specialists come in (both my partner and i have not been able to speak with them calmly); do I just have the specialists enter? Help!! How do I say PLEASE LEAVE NOW ...

the strange thing is they just said a week ago what great landlords we are, etc, etc... and since I dont think there is really mold or rodents I think they want to stay there, perhaps cause damage and create issues with town or state inspectors. I really am at a loss.

I appreciate any thoughts or shared experiences you all might offer. thank you!

Sam

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Posts: 563
Reply with quote  #2 
I guess it all depends on what is in your lease, for instance, my agreement says that the house is rodent/pest and mold free and that the tenant is responsible to get rid of any mold or infestation that happens once they are living there....although we did treat for ants on one occasion but reminded the tenants the infestations were their responsbility going forward. 

We do the walk around inspection and that is part of it (no sign of mold or pest infestations) and the tenant has 7 days to return their inspection saying otherwise or the initial inspection is accepted as final.

IF there were no pests there when they moved in, then unless your lease or state law says otherwise, you should not be held responsible for their upkeep of the premises.

I'm sure others have better advice than this, but sounds like they will nickpick you to death now since they are not getting their way. 

When does their lease end?  If it's a m2m, give them 30 days notice with no reason for ending the agreement.


spencer

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Posts: 5
Reply with quote  #3 
Hi Sam,

that is great advice, thanks so much!  I looked in our lease, and we don't say that they are responsible for rodents or mold during their tenancy, but this is something I would like to add to our lease in the future. In CT, it seems as though we may be responsible, I need to do more research though.

I did see in our lease that if after 7 days they have not paid rent, we can terminate the agreement. Since they are now 3 weeks past due, this may be the ticket to remove them. I do agree with you, they will nitpick and I think even create problems/damage to make a case against us. The lease doesnt actually end till November, so action is definitely necessary.

thanks again, always open to more thoughts.

rkkeller

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Posts: 764
Reply with quote  #4 
If you have a lawyer, I would let them handle it so your sure its done right for your state as many vary in how things are done.  You don't want to finally get to court and only be told you didn't do X and its pushed back another few weeks or months.  Also document everything, try to get a notarized letter from the other tenants about any problems, save messages and all that.

To get in all you have to do is send a notice giving at least 24 hours and say on X at X you need to get in so please have the dog put away.  Say if the dog is loose you will call animal control and have it removed.

Remember it's YOU who is in charge, never let them in control or some will walk all over you.  I had a tenant once email me some nasty remarks and on the phone and I immediately sent him a cease all contact notice and to only contact me if any problems with the house and that was to be on the maintenance request forms I provided when he moved in.  Don't ever get mad back, scream back just document it and send notices if you have to.

Also I would not worry about them calling anyone, for most its just talk trying to scare you.  Next time they say anything like that just say that would be great let me know what they say.

If your really going to evict them I would probably wait to do things until after they are out.  You can spend the money with them there only to have them cause the same damage again before they leave.
MOON

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Posts: 577
Reply with quote  #5 

Sounds like they feel slighted because you won't let them move in the front house, is there a reason they cannot move into that home? I guess you have already explained why they can't have that house. I had a tenant living in one of my smaller homes want to move into my larger home when it became available, but I knew they were already struggling,and just explained to them that there was no way they could pay the increase in rent & utilities.they accepted this explanation.I no longer accept personal checks because a spiteful tenant once put a stop on it,only money orders,bank checks,and cash.and its in the lease, also in the lease section regarding mold & pest infestations.if you  are using an attorney you may want to have them review your lease & tell you what needs to be changed.make sure your state allows you to give notice to cancell / terminate M2M without a reason.NJ needs to give a reason even IF M2M.

spencer

Registered:
Posts: 5
Reply with quote  #6 
Thanks moon and rkkeller!! Soooo appreciate the input.

Basically, the guy did call the health department. I spoke to the guy who was handling the case who was really helpful once he found out we wanted to immediately address any issues. I think he is a landlord too, because he totally got what was going on. The inspector went over there today and said he could find no moisture wahtsoever, but that he did find rat droppings (this tenant only moved in two months ago, and we never had this problem before so no idea how this came about). We immediately called a specialist in this and made an appointment. My lawyer is handling communicating with them to let them know when we will need access to teh house. After we deal with this issue, we will then tell them they need to pay rent, then ask them to quit the premises. I can only hope it goes smoothly--will keep you all posted. Its hard to believe this tenant is going to make things easy.

moon--i do think we need to give a reason for termination of the lease (its a one-year); but they cancelled their check for rent so are 3 weeks late. I think that is reason enough as long as we handle the issues they are bringing up.

I also did research, and i think in CT the landlord is responsible for rodent control (even if the issue develops while the tenant is living there) as well as mold control. Still trying to confirm that though.



MOON

Registered:
Posts: 577
Reply with quote  #7 

Did your attorney tell you that the tenant did not have to pay rent until the problem has been taken of? I am curious because I did not think a tenant can just not pay rent because an issue needs to be addressed. I thought they would have to go to court & hold funds in escrow only if a judge specifies this.  

spencer

Registered:
Posts: 5
Reply with quote  #8 
Hi moon. No, the attorney did not say that. I think he wants to pursue that particular path because he wants to show we are working diligently to solve the problem, and that once we ask them to leave it is not for "retaliatory purposes," which I guess would allow them to sue us. So, if they said there were mold issues, and we asked them to leave, it could look like we wanted to get rid of them rather than fix problems or deal with them. But, since the problems only occured during their tenancy, and I think they are looking for reasons to bother us/get out of lease, I do want them out. So, we will get everything done we need to ... then have the reason for eviction that they are delinquent on rent. I looked on the form for eviction in CT, and I believe we do need a reason to terminate contract.
rkkeller

Registered:
Posts: 764
Reply with quote  #9 
Talk to them if you think they want out as it seems it is in both your best interests and less trouble.  Maybe offer to let them out of the lease with no penalty if they pay the rent and move in 30 days.

Say I am sorry that you don't seem happy here and you will let them out of the lease as long as X.................
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