Frazzled Landlord needs ADVICE!!

Beauty76December 23, 2005

I manage a small apartment building as an onsite landlord. Two months ago I rented a unit (that happens to be straight across from my apartment) to a woman whose references checked out fine, and who seemed very nice. For aesthetic, as well as safety reasons, I do not allow tenants to keep any belongings on their doorsteps or landings. About a month into her rental agreement I noticed that she had placed a baby gate at the top of her stairs, so her dog could use the "landing" to hang out on. I immediately went up to her apartment to politely explain why she could not use the gate to block off the stairway. She said she understood, however, the next day the gate was still in place, and she had added some potted plants to the mix. I wrote up a rental violation notice and delivered it to her, explaining once more that any objects outside of her unit could be removed at her expense, and that the gate and plants had to go! She got pretty angry to say the least! The next day the gate and plants were still there, and she had also added a huge, fake tree to the eyesore! I was pretty flabbergasted, but still gave her one more chance with a second violation notice. She was not home so I taped the notice to her door. She called me cursing, and raving like a lunatic saying that her dog needed a patio to "relax" on. I was pretty stunned at her outburst, and told her that if the objects were not removed immediately, they would be removed for her. I heard a commotion in the parking lot, and looked out my office door to see her waving her fist at me, and screaming "b@#**" at the top of her lungs as she squealed out of the parking lot. I started typing up her 30 day notice of termination of tenancy right away. Since then, this woman has been harassing me with phone calls, and yells across to my apartment every time she opens her door. She leaves her trash on my door step, and has threatened to tell the owners of the building and the police that I went into her apartment and stole something from her jewelry box. (Not true of course). I am at my wits end, and am worried about my car too! She certainly has a few screws loose, and I don't know what to do! It's only day three, and I don't know what the hell she is going to make up next!! Any advice??

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Wow, that is not good. Even though I am a tnnant, I understand, some people just make things look like a junk yard., and that is not pretty.
I also think it would be a fire hazzard if stairways were blocked. I know in my building we are not allowed to put anything ( plants, trees, clotheslines, storage) on the fire escape.
Couldnt you call the fire dept to have a summons written up for her. Safety should be the first issue. Also, if her dog needs to relax, than she either should take him to a park or get a house.
It is a shame when there is such tension between neighbors, it makes life horrible.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2005 at 9:05AM
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Hopefully you've already been in touch with the owners and explained what's going on. If not, you should. Secondly, I would start documenting everything that's going on and check with the police about getting a restraining order. She sounds like she's escalating fast.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2005 at 10:59AM
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first, I'm a little confused; you refer to yourself as a landlord but then refer to the owners of the building. A landlord is an owner.

Whatever you are, document every little thing, even if it seems trivial. Write an articulate letter, run it by an attorney and send it to her (cc relevant people; the owners of the building ??). All those little things add up to grounds for eviction.

It's very important that you speak to a local attorney. I have tenants like that and the letter documenting their pattern of violations, vicious harrassment and deliberate destruction was enough for them to restrain themselves for a while. When they started again, I dealt with each violation promptly and firmly. One act on their part could violate multiple clauses in the lease and I document a notice for each one individually. They started this nonsense a few weeks after signing a lease for a second year. Although I wanted to evict, the attorney counseled me to wait them out, even though there was 11 months left on the lease. He said that if I started procedings, the lease date would become void and the objections they could raise could have them living there longer than 11 months. I have 6 months to go.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2005 at 11:32AM
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He/She is the landlord and not the owner. Its very common for the owner to hire out a lanlord, especially on site.

I would not hesitate at all to get a restraining order. This will keep you safe, force you to document her threats, and if anything happens she would be investigated pretty severly.

#2 this does for you: It will force her to move out without an eviction due to her living so close to you. Its only a piece of paper but does hold up in court.

I had to file a restraining order when I was 18. I worked at a gas station and the next door house had two little girls 7 and 4 or 5 years. They always came in together and the 4 or 5 year old never talked or even looked at me. After a year of their daily stops the younger one came in by herself one day. For some reason she told me that her Moms boyfriend was touching her and pointed. I litteraly got sick and could hardly stand. I called the cops/ social services, anyone I could. Well the next day the boyfriend came over and tried to assult me. Luckily there were other customers in the store. I called the police while the customers were still there and he had left. The cops sat there all night to protect me. I was told to file a restraing order and the cops warned him not to come over.

He never showed up for court and the judge awarded it on default. The space forced him to move out. That was back in 95 and I didnt live in that town and have only been through it a few times since 96. The order is now gone and I have seen him once in 1997. He still gives me the creepies thinking about everything.

Call the owners, then go to the court house.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2005 at 1:00PM
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You need to get a copy of your state Landlord & Tenant laws.

In most states the proper procedure is to serve a "7 Day Notice With Cure" and outline the nature of the offence.

A 7 day notice "with cure" allows the tenant a maximum of 7 day to correct the problem.

If they don't take the appropriate action within the 7 days you must then serve a "Seven Day Notice Without Cure" which in a sense is a seven day notice that your are proceeding with eviction procedure.

At the end of that 7 day period you must serve a "3 Day notice to Quit" which is a polite way of telling them to be out in 3 days.

Once all of that is done you may then file for an eviction with your housing court.

If you fail to take those steps the housing courts will normally automatically deny your request for evicition.

Once you file for eviction the court will issue the tenant a "Summons to appear" for a hearing and the court will determine whether an eviction is in order, or what corrective actions must be taken.

Many tenants are well aware of the procedures and they know how to play the game, by example:

Last year we had a tenant who moved in on September 15th paying a security deposit equal to one months rent and 1/2 months pro-rated rent for September.

The lease says the rent is due and payable on the first day of the month but we allow up to five days grace period before imposing a late fee, therefore we had to wait the 5 days before serving the "7day notice with cure", followed by the "7 Day notice without cure" so now we have 5 days of grace, two 7 day periods which is now the 19th of October. We followed that with the required "3 day notice to quit" which brought us up to Oct 22.

We filed for an eviction proceeding which cost $85 for the filing fee then we received a hearing date of Nov, 21.

On November21 we went to court and the tenant showed up giving the judge a hard luck story about how she lost her job and couldn't afford to pay her rent or relocate. She then pleaded the mercy of the court, stating that she had a minor child and could be put out in the snow so the court granted a 30 day continuance with the instruction that she was to pay the outstanding rent directly to the court within the 30 days.

We returned to the court on Dec.22 only to be told that the court could not evict a woman with a minor child between Nov 15 and March 15th so another court date was set for March 15th.

On the first of March the tenant moved three miles away, which then put her exactly 100 yards across the state line and out of the courts jurisdiction.

On the 15th of March the court then awarded us possession.

I sent a crew in to clean and prep the apartment and they came back telling me they had bagged 35 large lawn & garden type leaf bags with trash, which had completely filled the dumpster requiring an additional dumpster pickup. On top of that, the walls were covered with pencil, pen & crayola marks throughout, so we would need a complete new paint job. The living room carpet had two large burns clear through the padding from an electric flat iron.

To add insult to injury, each apartment has a separate municipal water meter, so when the new tenant went to have their water turned on we discovered the previous tenant had never paid a penny on the water bill and the landlord is responsible for paying the outstanding balance before they can turn the new service on.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2005 at 1:07AM
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Thank you all so much for your advice, I really appreciate it! I have contacted the owners, and since the tenants rental agreement is month-to-month she should be out within 30 days. Her son called me today and told me that he was coming up here, and to not screw with his mom. She constantly has her front door open, even now at a little past 2 A.M., and can easily see my comings and goings. (Makes me a little nervous). I hesitate to call the police, or contact the court for a restraining order, because I have no witnesses. I haven't asked any other tenants if they have noticed this woman's behavior because I don't know if that is appropriate or not. Can I get into trouble if I apply for a restraining order and can't prove that I have been being harassed? Thank you everyone again for all of your help!

    Bookmark   December 24, 2005 at 5:25AM
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Lazy Pups post shows how states have very different laws and rules. I have a 5 day grace period also. If a tenant hasnt paid by the 6th I file an unlawfull detainer. It has to be served 7 days before the hearing, and hearings are only heard on Thursdays. On the Thursday hearing if its in regaurds to money the tenant can say he paid and its another week for a the trial. If the tenant is honest and says I havent paid, typically the judge would allow them 2 days to get out. Very quick here. A late tenant I can have out on the 15th and it gives me two weeks to turn the apt. Over. GOOD LUCK

and no I dont believe you can get in trouble without proving the allegations for a restraining order. However you would probably upset her more.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2005 at 10:25AM
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"For aesthetic, as well as safety reasons, I do not allow tenants to keep any belongings on their doorsteps or landings".
Is that stated in the lease or written rental agreement? In this case, since it's a month-to-month rental (no lease), it should be stated in writing in the rental agreement. Where I come from, if it's not in black and white, you'd be out of luck.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2005 at 2:29PM
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