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Consistent Problem with Tenants

silence1186silence1186 Character shields down!As a wingmanRegistered User regular
edited July 2008 in Help / Advice Forum
Every year, I rent my summer house for the 11 months I don't occupy it. For the past several years, I've had different tenants, but they all bring the same problem. I charge one month's rent for security. The problem I have, is my tenants will not pay their last month's rent, leaving me to take it out of their security. Then, when I go to inspect the house, they are A.) Not around, and b.) There's usually several hundred dollars worth of damages they've caused, ranging from broken windows, to torn carpets, to pictures with slashes in them, etc., and I have no security to cover this.

Is there any sort of legal recompense I can seek against these deadbeats?

Edit: I live in New York.

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  • JohnnyCacheJohnnyCache Starting Defense Place at the tableRegistered User regular
    edited July 2008
    What does the lease you have them sign say?

    JohnnyCache on
  • silence1186silence1186 Character shields down! As a wingmanRegistered User regular
    edited July 2008
    That it's an 11 month lease.

    I should clarify, the house belongs to my grandmother, and she picks up these leases god knows where, but it seems like she buys them in bulk, and you just fill in the blanks, and voila, instant lease. I just help her manage the house, deal with the tenants, and handle all internet inquiries.

    I guess I'm wondering, what should the lease say? Or what info in it are you looking for?

    silence1186 on
  • WillethWilleth Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    Every year, I rent my summer house for the 11 months I don't occupy it. For the past several years, I've had different tenants, but they all bring the same problem. I charge one month's rent for security. The problem I have, is my tenants will not pay their last month's rent, leaving me to take it out of their security. Then, when I go to inspect the house, they are A.) Not around, and b.) There's usually several hundred dollars worth of damages they've caused, ranging from broken windows, to torn carpets, to pictures with slashes in them, etc., and I have no security to cover this.

    Is there any sort of legal recompense I can seek against these deadbeats?

    Average out what the damage costs you per year, and add that onto the security deposit. Then at least you can replace whatever is broken at the end of the year.

    Willeth on
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  • RUNN1NGMANRUNN1NGMAN Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    If you're in the US, take them to small claims court to get your money.

    Also, why are you not having them pay rent one month in advance? Everywhere I've lived it's that way. For example, the rent I just paid on July 1 was for the month of July, not June. Maybe you do that already, and they are just hanging out rent free for a month?

    Also also, find better tenants. Whatever screening process you are using is broke.

    RUNN1NGMAN on
  • JohnnyCacheJohnnyCache Starting Defense Place at the tableRegistered User regular
    edited July 2008
    What does it say about damages? Ideally it should have a checklist of specifics that you initial with the tenet as you introduce them to the property. It should mention disposables like lightbulbs - whose responsibility they are - and specify if they need to do things like steam the carpet. Ideally, it will also stipulate the costs for your time as an hourly rate (15 or 20 an hour isn't unreasonable) and explicitly declare that they will be liable for the costs of any professional cleaning or repair. It should also have a clause specifying where the lease is arbitrated and another stipulating that if any part of it is struck down in court, the rest is still considered binding.

    Technically, although YMMV from state to state, you should be able to recover for things you have damaged.

    JohnnyCache on
  • AegisAegis Fear My Dance Overshot Toronto, Landed in OttawaRegistered User regular
    edited July 2008
    Couldn't you just avoid this in the first place by requiring first & last month's rent paid to you prior to them moving in at the start of their lease? At least for me personally, when I rent my apartment for the school year as I'm off for university, I pay first and last before moving in to my landlord and when I move out, that last month I'm not required to pay rent.

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  • silence1186silence1186 Character shields down! As a wingmanRegistered User regular
    edited July 2008
    Rent is paid first of the month for that month, i.e. August 1 is when the first payment is made, and it's for August, and then a new check on the first of the month every month. The issue is they just up and leave some time after paying the May rent on May 1st but before June 30, and don't pay for June. They usually just disappear without contact info, not saying where they're going.

    As far as paying for the last month's rent up front, would that be in addition to the security deposit? Because that's what the security deposit has turned into, thus my problem with the damages. And if I charge them two month's rent, won't they just not pay May, and leave when challenged on it?

    I guess I'm wondering, if I charge (for example) $1000 a month rent, and the lease is for 11 months, they owe me $11,000 by hook or by crook, and they can't just up and leave the house to not be liable for the money?

    silence1186 on
  • RuckusRuckus Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    Here in Manitoba the standard is your security deposit is completely seperate from your rent, and is typically half of one month.

    For instance I just put my deposit down on an apartment that's $927/mth, so I paid $463.50 as a deposit, and will write 12x $927 cheques to my landlord over the next year. Around the last week of July next year, if I move out, my landlord with do a walkthrough with me where we inspect and agree on any damages which may have been the result of my occupancy, and the appropriate amount to deduct from my deposit.

    The remaining amount (or full amount, if no damages are found) plus interest, will be issued back to me in the form of a cheque.

    Ruckus on
  • RaggaholicRaggaholic Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    What state are you in? This is pretty important.

    Raggaholic on
  • DaedalusDaedalus Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    Make the security deposit larger than one months' rent.

    Daedalus on
  • EggyToastEggyToast Jersey CityRegistered User regular
    edited July 2008
    The problem is that you're leasing to deadbeats. A good tenant wouldn't even wreck shit up. But you're getting people who not only wreck shit up, but use their "deposit" for their last rent, because you can't evict people for missing 1 month payment.

    The downside is that since your lease is 11 months and non-continuous, you're unlikely to get any long-term tenant who would actually care about the place, or at least not want the landlord to be pissed off. They know they're only there for 11 months and they have to move out, so they dick you around for the last month, knowing you can't do anything about it.

    So unfortunately, unless the nature of the place changes and you can shop for tenants who may stay more than 1 year, your only real option is to make the security deposit more than 1 month's rent. The same problem will probably happen, but at least you'll have extra money for the repairs.

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  • ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    Like everyone else is saying, make the lease require first & last months' rent, plus a security deposit.

    So, if you charge $1000 for rent, their total move-in would be $2000 + $500 security deposit.

    Thanatos on
  • Sir CarcassSir Carcass I have been shown the end of my world Round Rock, TXRegistered User regular
    edited July 2008
    I think you're already off to a bad start by having an 11 month lease (people knowing they're only there for a short time are less likely to care about the place), but that's neither here nor there.

    I've been renting for the last 9 years, and the security deposit has usually been equal to a month's rent. I think first month + last month + deposit is your best bet here. And definitely put in the lease, if it's not there already, that they're responsible for 11 months worth of rent and then take them to court if they skip out.

    I always wondered why landlords liked us so much, and then I hear more and more stories of renters like this.

    Sir Carcass on
  • ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    As far as previous renters go, if you can find them, you can have them served with papers for small claims court in your jurisdiction. Odds are, you'll end up with them not showing up, and you'll get a default ruling in your favor. You won't necessarily see any money out of it, unless they sell a house or a car or something in the future.

    Thanatos on
  • Marty81Marty81 Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    EggyToast wrote: »
    The problem is that you're leasing to deadbeats. A good tenant wouldn't even wreck shit up. But you're getting people who not only wreck shit up, but use their "deposit" for their last rent, because you can't evict people for missing 1 month payment.

    You can't? Even if you write it into the lease?

    Location matters. In some states it is illegal to ask for last month's rent up front. In some states the law is that the deposit cannot be used for last month's rent, but if you can't evict for failure to pay one month and tenants just up and leave without any forwarding info, I don't know what recourse you have for that. I guess you can sick a collection's agency on them if you took enough personal info when they moved in. Even so, if you are able and given the problems you're having, it's probably best to ask for first+last+deposit on move-in.

    Marty81 on
  • Sir CarcassSir Carcass I have been shown the end of my world Round Rock, TXRegistered User regular
    edited July 2008
    Oh, and I would always ask for some sort of certified funds, like cash or a money order.

    Sir Carcass on
  • mtsmts Dr. Robot King Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    well its ilegal in some states, CA for one to charge more than double a months rent in deposits, that would include asking for last months rent. so you could get around that by asking for a deposit that is double the rent, on top of them paying rent.

    though it sounds to me like your security deposit is not enough. if they all skip out on the last month and use the security deposit you either need to increase the deposit to cover last month and for damages, or you need to take them to small claims to get it back

    mts on
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  • EggyToastEggyToast Jersey CityRegistered User regular
    edited July 2008
    Marty81 wrote: »
    EggyToast wrote: »
    The problem is that you're leasing to deadbeats. A good tenant wouldn't even wreck shit up. But you're getting people who not only wreck shit up, but use their "deposit" for their last rent, because you can't evict people for missing 1 month payment.

    You can't? Even if you write it into the lease?

    Most places require more than one month in order to legally evict people. In Maryland, the proceedings generally take 3 months. The "basic" form is as follows: you contact the tenant stating that they are late on their rent, and have [days] to pay. If they refuse, you can take them to court in order to evict them. If they don't show up, you win by default and can then evict them. But how do you evict someone who doesn't want to leave? You have to get law enforcement there to escort them off the premises, and then get your own mover guys there to get all their shit off your property.

    Eviction is a HUGE pain in the ass, and even though laws vary, it's not at all a fast process. Doing it all in a month, when the person is leaving at the end of the month? Most landlords wouldn't even bother, knowing the time & effort it would take when the person is leaving anyway. Even then, the landlord simply kicks the person out -- they still don't get their money.

    So you *can* evict someone by missing rent, but 1 month isn't enough time to do it.

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  • WalterWalter Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    Here is what my lease says verbatim to keep me from using my security deposit as my last month's rent payment. Seems like this is a common problem because its the only part of the lease that's in 16 point font, all caps, bolded, and underlined.

    TENANT SHALL NOT USE ANY REFUNDABLE DEPOSIT AS A CREDIT TOWARD LAST MONTH'S RENT

    Walter on
  • RaggaholicRaggaholic Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    EggyToast wrote: »
    because you can't evict people for missing 1 month payment.
    This is why I asked what state he's in because, and I know of at least one state like this, you can file for eviction the day after a missed payment. Most landlords don't do it because tenants are less plentiful than places to rent, but I've seen it happen multiple times (five days later).

    Raggaholic on
  • EggyToastEggyToast Jersey CityRegistered User regular
    edited July 2008
    Raggaholic wrote: »
    EggyToast wrote: »
    because you can't evict people for missing 1 month payment.
    This is why I asked what state he's in because, and I know of at least one state like this, you can file for eviction the day after a missed payment. Most landlords don't do it because tenants are less plentiful than places to rent, but I've seen it happen multiple times (five days later).

    Right, but if they filed for it on the 2nd of the month, it could easily take a full month for the court proceedings etc., let alone scheduling a cop to come out & actually evict the person.

    All of these states do also have tenant laws, and a landlord can't just storm in & throw a person's stuff on the street, even though they missed rent and may fully intend on not paying.

    EggyToast on
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  • RaggaholicRaggaholic Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    EggyToast wrote: »
    Raggaholic wrote: »
    EggyToast wrote: »
    because you can't evict people for missing 1 month payment.
    This is why I asked what state he's in because, and I know of at least one state like this, you can file for eviction the day after a missed payment. Most landlords don't do it because tenants are less plentiful than places to rent, but I've seen it happen multiple times (five days later).

    Right, but if they filed for it on the 2nd of the month, it could easily take a full month for the court proceedings etc., let alone scheduling a cop to come out & actually evict the person.

    All of these states do also have tenant laws, and a landlord can't just storm in & throw a person's stuff on the street, even though they missed rent and may fully intend on not paying.
    Absolutely, but if a person gets served with eviction papers, they usually try to make an effort to pay the rent. Their court date may be months away, but they see a notice that says "eviction" and they think "stuff on the lawn tomorrow," and moves start to get made.

    Does this always make people pay? No, but you'd be shocked at how often it did.

    Raggaholic on
  • CrashtardCrashtard Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    Do you do any kind of credit check on the renters? If not, that might be an idea to weed out the shitheads. Also, you should be getting people's SSN as a renter, that way you will always know how to find them.

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  • DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    EggyToast wrote: »
    Eviction is a HUGE pain in the ass

    And once you've served eviction notice if your tenants have no intention of paying, any pause they might have given in letting your property turn into a shithole is out the window. And as the landlord you may have to do all sorts of shit once they're evicted (like take all their property and put it into storage at your own expense, and be liable for any damage to that property if the tenants decide to retreive their shit and say it was all broken during removal). Since you manage the property you should really do a dry run of what's involved (legally, financially, and time-wise) in evicting a tenant, and adjust your rent accordingly.

    If you cannot take 1st and last months rent initially, you might consider upping base rent say 10% what you'd normally charge. That way if they skip the 11th month you've still netted the total rents you had budgetted.

    Djeet on
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