No matter how good of a landlord you are, or how great your system is, you will sometimes have issues with a problem tenant. It is up to you to mitigate the issues and make for the best. You must have the ability to recognize the problem, have a solid way to handle it, and have a back up plan it that first plan fails. And you have to be ready, able and willing to execute the plan.
I came across a potential problem on my recent tenant. Here is the scenario.
One of my tenants that moved in recently contacted me to get a rental application for her (soon to be) live-in boyfriend. It was the guy I had met at one of her showings that came along with her. As I have stated in the past, this is a huge red flag. If a boyfriend comes out to see the apartment, he will almost definitely be moving in, no ifs ands or buts. At the very minimum, he will be staying there several nights a week.
I immediately asked if he would be staying there at the showing, and both parties denied it. He would be living elsewhere, for sure, 100%, guaranteed. Never, ever would he live there. Ever ever. Now six weeks after move in, he is already there, and has been. In this case, she was just requesting to add him to the lease now. It also makes it clear why she was willing to leave a larger rent subsidized apartment, for my property at $400+ more a month. It is because she could move in her boyfriend.
I personally do not care who sleeps with whom. I want to know who is staying in my properties, because the tenants who share the multifamily space with them will care. If you are an extra person, I want to know who you are, and if I agreed on a price for a lease condition, and the condition changes, I want to be compensated.
Preliminary Checks Are Important
Luckily I had already found out the boyfriend’s name, and ran a public records check. I did this prior to approving the tenant herself. Had he been a bad character, I would have declined my tenant, as even if he did not live there, he would be around. If a tenant has friends that are bad, sooner or later the friends will be around causing trouble. And the tenant is likely also bad; they just have not been caught. The old saying you are a product of your surroundings is very true.
So, with his background, he is not a bad person, but might have a couple of DUIs. I am not sure of his credit score – yet. He has a steady job, and dresses in a reasonable manner. He does not look like a homeless criminal.
I sent an email to my tenant with an application attached. I said if the boyfriend was approved, there would be an extra $50 per month charge, plus a $40 application fee. This is no different than I do with many of my other rentals. Add a person, add $50.
After my email, there was a bit of radio silence. No returned texts, no returned email, no returned application.
I had another turnover in the same property, so I went over there this week. I spoke with her and the boyfriend in person and explained the application and $50 extra. It will start at the next month’s rent. I requested a few unrelated things about where they had items stored in the basement, which is a common area, and not exclusively theirs.
They mentioned that their email and printers were not working, which is another red flag. They said they had no way to print out the emailed application. I am sure they are hiding a bit of information, and they were hoping the issue would go away. I will drop off a hard copy application for him to fill out this week, and expect it back, along with $40, in a few days.
Possible Lease Violation on My Part?
So, there are a few issues. I raised the rent with only a few weeks’ notice. Typically, you have to do that at the end of the lease. In my case, I have a month-to-month term, so I would contractually have to wait until May 1. If they would object to the short notice, even though the boyfriend is already living there, I would just raise it $100 on 5/1 instead. They have a contractual violation with the extra tenant as well.
If they refuse to pay the extra $50 on 5/1, I will just terminate the lease and evict if they do not move out.
If you have a more risky tenant, use a month-to-month lease. A risky tenant will not honor a lease anyway if you think you want to lock them in for a year. The tenant will leave when they want, regardless of the lease term. Only solid tenant honor leases.
An eviction is almost guaranteed by the courts if there is a holdover, which is staying after you have been told to leave, and it is the end of the lease.
I will take my own advice. “Next time, get better tenants in the first place.”
How do you think this will play out? What would you do? Have you ever moved in a ‘roommate’ without your landlords knowledge?