owner occupied unit

foxiJune 17, 2008

I am a fairly new to apt ownership .. right now I just bought a 4plex and I want to expand MY living space to include the basment apt ( I live on the main level )

Problem is I have a hold over tenant that I would like to have move .. Can I break his lease ( in a nice way of course ) He is hanidcaped and has a payee but for some reason I do not have all the papers on his lease from them .. getting ahold of them, is a problem it seems ( no calls returned ect ) I would like to ask him to move so that I can repair and rehab that space for my family ( its rough and needs major upgrades) he pays very low rent because of it but I want him out asap .. can I just ask him to leave with fair notice ?

thanks for any input you guys might have

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Sorry, but based on my experience (years with rental houses) a landlord just can't ask a tenant to leave because they want the space for themselves. Unless there is a clause in the lease that's being broken, then you'd have to go through eviction. Otherwise, it's wait till renewal time, give him ample notice (30 days is recommended, I prefer 45 minimum and have gone as far as 90 when I know I'm not renewing, to give them time to find a new place). You are not obligated to renew the lease nor give a reason for non-renewal when it's done at expiration. The contract is up, you either renew again or not, period. However, do note that if you do do not give notice that you're not renewing and continue to accept rent $ beyond the expiration date, then many State's view that as rolling into a verbal month to month lease, and you will have to give 30 days notice for that verbal to be non-renewed.

The only "out" you might have is what your State law addresses (if it even does) regarding transfer of building ownership and leases. Google your state's landlord tenant laws using this term (without quotes) "Texas landlord tenant laws". Substitute your state for Texas, of course. ;) Also, if you do for some reason try to evict the guy for a less than credible reason (for instance damage, nonpayment of rents, breaking laws relative to the property occupation, etc.) and try to evict, his handicap will no doubt put him in favor of the courts. It is, after all, his home.

You really must get your hands on a copy of the lease that is in force. It may or may not be void upon new ownership. (My leases do not address that, they only state that should the house be sold, tenant will be given 30 days notice to vacate - unless of course the new owner opts to continue to use it as rental property.) A sale in my case is very remote, but for various reasons I won't go into here I put that sale clause in as a means of covering that base.

I'm concluding all the current leases were simply rolled over from prior landlord/owner? Send the tenant a certified letter (so he has to sign for it) stating you must have in your possession a copy of the lease/contract within xx days. Keep a copy of that letter for yourself. If he does not sign or pick it up at the post office, and it's returned to you after so many failed delivery attempts, do not open what you addressed to him. Keep it in your possession unopened and unaltered. If he doesn't respond to the first letter, then send a 2nd letter saying this is your "second and final notice on this matter" and again request a copy of the contract he signed with prior owner that is in force at this time. If you do not receive it within xx days you will be consulting legal counsel. And follow up on that one. (For all kinds of reasons, you've got to get your hands on a copy of that contract or you could find yourself up a creek. Right now you're just shooting in the dark.)

If you can't find your state's laws, post what state you're in and I'll see what I can find for you. But meantime, first and foremost, keep in mind that this is the tenant's home and they have rights. You don't want to find yourself on the wrong side of the law on this one.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 2:52PM
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thank you for your input .. the walk thru we did befor we signed the papers showed issues that do need to be adressed health and livibility wise .. some of it is his doing and some is due to age of apt building .. frankly I dont understand how that place was approved as an apt .. .. I typed up and sent the letter you suggests as you suggested as well .. hopefully that will get me a copy of his lease .. I can wait for the lease to expire if I have to .. and I will NOT renew it so mean time I have to worry about the windows he wont allow me to replace or the damaged floors he likes them he says they are homey .. ARRGGGHHH !!
he spent the last winter befor we signed for this place wearning a coat and gloves trying to stay warm yet his elect is very high .. the refridge is unplugged .. ( it works / brand new one I have the papers on it from prev owner ) he is afraid to use it so his cold food sits on a window sill .. no I dont know why .. I just know that his Protective payee sends a check to pay the rent and she pays his elect .. he is ingored for the rest of the time .. :: sighs::

    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 3:30PM
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OK, wait a minute. You wanting to do repairs/upgrades so you can remove him and take over the space pre-lease expiration is one thing. But you wanting to do necessary repairs/upgrades to keep the building structurally sound and habitable, and a tenant is attempting to block you is a whole nuther ball game. Doesn't work that way!

so mean time I have to worry about the windows he wont allow me to replace That's all backwards. He does not get to deny you permission for any repairs you need to do. Period. Be firm but diplomatic to keep relations from going sour. He cannot dictate what you do and don't do to keep your building structurally sound or improved. Suppose those windows are allowing rainwater/moisture to seep in and doing interior damage? Creating prime breeding ground for mold? Suppose they're leaking enough cold air in the winter that it puts a burden on your furnace, causing strain on the blower motor that's working harder than it has to in order to heat the place? Anyone who owns a building knows that a neglected repair/upgrade does not go away and The Domino Effect rears its head, where you've got more/bigger problems down the road that are even more costly. Save yourself the grief and $ and fix this stuff as early as you can.

Same for the flooring. If it's foul and rotten, by all means replace it. He'll be inconvenience, but he gets a new floor. (Although after your post above describing how he lives, were it me I'd consider a costly item like flooring after he moves out, or at the least something very inexpensive until it's no longer rented.)

I typically do cosmetic upgrades between tenants. Necessary repairs I do when it's needed. For tenant's comfort and for integrity of my buildings. Were it me, I'd start shopping for windows. When you find some, before arranging the install tell that tenant you are installing new windows in your building. It would be nice to ask him for a couple days/times that would be most convenient for him (that's a courtesy, not a necessity). Some states vary on their entry laws; for example mine says I must give "reasonable notice" for non-emergencies. Doesn't specify oral or written or how many hours. I've seen other states that get very explicit and say "landlord must provide tenant with minimum 24 hours written notice". So you still need to check your laws. If he balks, tell him you intend to get that building back up to par and in the shape it should be in, that you'll make every effort to do so with the least amount of disruption to him, but it's not up for negotiation.

As a courtesy, it might be nice to send him a letter giving him 3 days minimum notice for when windows will be installed. Advise the date and time the installers will be there and that you will be keeping an eye on the work. (If you can be there, all the better.) If he gets upset about new windows, that's his problem, not yours. (Most people would be more than pleased to have them!)

Unless it's just impossible, I always schedules jobs when both tenant and I can be there. I escort any contractors into the rental home, stay while they're there, leave when they are done. If tenant can't be home due to work, I call tenant when we're entering and again when exiting and I lock up. I never leave contractors at the houses alone for two reasons: a contractor should not be discussing your business with a tenant and a contractor should not be alone in an empty unit without someone present due to possibility of accusations of theft, etc. Ya never know.

the refridge is unplugged .. ( it works / brand new one I have the papers on it from prev owner ) he is afraid to use it so his cold food sits on a window sill. Do not ask, tell this tenant that he can no longer store perishable food items on a window sill. Lord knows what type of vermin would be attracted to it, next thing you know you've got bugs or rats to contend with. Good grief! He needs to store perishable/refrigeration required food in the refrigerator provided for that purpose. If he wants to leave the fridge unplugged and use a sealed cooler, I suppose you can't stop him. But you can stop him from sticking his food on the window sill and attracting animals/vermin! (Most leases contain standard language that occupants will abide by all laws at all levels, from local clear up to federal. That includes health codes.)

Remember, it's his home, but you own the building. Mutual respect goes a long way toward a good relationship. Your building will be standing long after any tenants you have are gone. You pay the property taxes, the insurance, the upkeep costs. (Check with your insurance, if you install energy efficient windows you could qualify for a discount. My state even gives a tax break for an item like that.) It is your right and responsibility to keep it structurally sound and do what you can to keep it's integrity intact and prevent further, more costly repairs. Your tenants do not get to call the shots on that or worse attempt to block you from doing so!

    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 8:44PM
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Depends on your locality.

Here in NYC, you often *can* evict someone if you want to use the living space for your own family.

You need info on local laws; I'd seek out the landlord-tenant agency of your state or city.

Also, I don't understand why the person you bought the building from doesn't have a copy of the lease; I'd have insisted on it as part of title clearance, before closing.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2008 at 11:50AM
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oh brother what a mess ..
his payee was here the other day she was concerned over his elec bill and it IS high last month was over $200 for his little apt (500 sq ft).. so together we did a walk thru ..

1 mess's with elect items and takes them apart to "fix them" things like over head lights and elect wall mounted space heaters and wall sockets .. I will have to toss out that brand new fridge due to his " fixes" its not repairable

2 has been opening ceiling tiles and "looking" at the wires and the pipes ( he took down all the tiles in his bedroom to "look" )

3 piles and piles of trash / cans/ papers everywhere .. he has a path thru there
thank gods he doesnt smoke

bottem line she is demanding I fix everything NOW and not let him live like this .. oh no lady you put him here so you wouldnt have to deal with him at home .. I want him out .. she claims she cant move him .. btw there is no lease he was a tenant at will the previous owner felt sorry for and was able to gouge for rent money .. ( she claims they had a deal .. so what I am not playing that game )
I got mad at her for her demands and called the adult protective folks . I would call this adult abuse of a disabled person .. they are investigating my claim .. nope they havent even came and looked .. I had my lawyer file eviction papers this morning ..
:: throws up hands:: my house is called the money pit after today

ok done venting I just had to blow off some steam

    Bookmark   June 25, 2008 at 1:36PM
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Oh man, that sounds bad. :/ This "payee" person sounds completely illogical and a bit outrageous. I was going to say since there's no written contract most states would view it as a month-to-month verbal, so 30 days written notice would suffice. But with all the damage that's been done, and considering he needs adult supervision, to cover yourself getting a legal assist was a good move.

Sadly, have been down this road and can completely empathize what you're feeling right now with regard to the damage done to your property and having to get it all undone and back up to code. It can be very stressful. (Right now I am blessed with all very good tenants, and I am so grateful for that. They make life so much more pleasant!)

One would hope this "payee" person will be held responsible for not more closely monitoring the day to day living of her charge. Sounds like the poor guy needs it and she neglected him in that regard.

I hope it all works out!

    Bookmark   June 27, 2008 at 9:07AM
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"bottem line she is demanding I fix everything NOW and not let him live like this"

Calling Adult protective services was a good idea. She's probably annoyed that SHE has to find him a new place to live.

Are there any places nearby that are charging the same rent he is paying now?

I have an excavator friend who bought a house with the intention of razing it. The house was a dump and he wanted to put a brand new house on the lot.

The tenant had some kind of mental issues because he never went anywhere and had newspapers up on all the windows instead of curtains.

My friend gave him notice but the guy didn't think he was serious until my friend started digging out the basement below the house!

My friend ended up saving and using some of his rent money towards a deposit on another place. It took a few months but that didn't matter to my friend. He worked on the rest of the yard while he was waiting for the guy to move out because he felt sorry for him. Thats the kind of guy he is.

Maybe you could work something out with the payee. She might be able to see the wisdom of being nice to you and having a good reference for a future apt. for him, rather than have to deal with an eviction and/or lawsuit.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2008 at 5:04PM
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The Payee is his sister and no his rent was very low for this area so he is kinda in a bind BUT thats not my problem .. he has a income that could put him in to an assisted living apt but he says no they would "watch him" yes they would, again not my problem HIS biggest problem is his payee ..she doesnt want to pay high rent for him .. to bad ..
She says she is going to take me to court over this mess but my lawyer says she really shoulnt make threats .. we have involved the adult protective services .. and they are looking at this carefully .. the lady there says I should replace the refridge for the moment and I did .. got a used dorm type refridge so that I wont be out alot of money if he takes it apart like he did the other one .. now alls I can do is wait till we go to court ..

    Bookmark   June 28, 2008 at 10:13AM
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Take dated photos and videos, from every angle, of damage tenant did and his "DIY" handiwork. Cover yourself! Any other tenant that did not have a guardian/payee/sister watching out for them, and was a reasonably capable adult, would have been booted out for the type of damage he has done - not doing damage and then turning around demanding that the LL fix it. (No way would that fly!) This is no different, except the man has a guardian. And it sure sounds like his sister wants a LL to be a guardian as well. How sad for her brother. :/

    Bookmark   June 28, 2008 at 5:03PM
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To the original poster: I sympathize with your situation. I just want to say that I think your renter is on the autism spectrum. I know that isn't a concern to you but just want to explain that's why the eccentric behavior. His sister is probably frustrated from years of trying to "fix" her brother. This makes me sad since my boy is like that and his sister shows her frustration to me all the time (they are 19 & 22). In your case the sister is the responsible party, no matter how frustrated or not. Don't expect the tenant to change, they never do.

Assisted living is very expensive; I try not to lose sleep over my situation but sometimes I do. I do have another older son that is much more understanding towards his brother. I pray this tenant has another relative who can help out too. Sounds like mom and dad are no longer living?

    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 11:29AM
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thanks for the good input everyone ..
Nessie the guy is not austic .. he is medicated for his Schizophrenia ..
he was in assited living at one time.. he didnt like it( to many rules ) .. and started living on the streets so his sister put him in this apt 4 yrs ago to give him place no one would " watch him" in Sure its sad and no I dont think the parents are alive he is in his late 50s so not likely his sister is youngerthan him I think She has a family is her excuse for not takeing him home to her house

    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 4:12PM
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Finally he is gone .. the state did remove him .. and the dumpster is half full already with trash .. his sister took anything he had of value and left me to clean up the mess she made going thru his belongings .. itsa relief ..truthfuly .... we have fixed the windows and hauled out the broken junk.. I have a electrician coming midweek to see why some stuff wont work down here and to re place the baseboard heaters that were "fixed" by him .. sheesh thiswas the beginning of a nightmare I was afraid .. anyways thanks everyone for listening to me and for the good info .. If you dont mind I will hang around and read and learn some new stuff ..

    Bookmark   July 27, 2008 at 5:23PM
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