landlord and tenant issues- need advice!

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
landlord and tenant issues- need advice!
Tue, 06-10-2003 - 12:48pm

I'm assuming most of you are either landlords or tenants, so I would love some advice from both sides.

My husband and I (I'm 25, he's 24)just bought our first house. We got possesion of it on May 31. We were hoping to have the whole house for awhile to ourselves as we want to do renovations in both the upstairs and the downstairs, but we have inherited the tenant in the downstairs suite. The previous owners did give her her eviction papers the week before we took over the house, so she has 2 months to move out, which means we have her until the end of July. Now this suite that she has is huge! It has 2 bedrooms, a full bathroom, a large kitchen and a HUGE living room, with an additional sitting room area. She also has 4 huge cats which she never lets out of the house so they are always trapped inside- I feel so bad for them cause they sit at the window all day looking out, probably wishing they could come out, the poor things must be so bored. So this girl is about our age, maybe even younger. She was friends with the previous owners so she gets cheap rent ($600 a month including everything), when a suite this size goes for between $800-$900 in our area. Our mortgage is $1700 a month so we were hoping to renovate the downstairs to make it newer and add another bedroom on and then rent it out (definetly for more than $600) to help us pay the mortgage. Anyway, we have a shared laundry room and every day since we moved in, she has been doing laundry constantly. I don't see how one person can have so much laundry!! We have only been able to get one load of laundry in since we have been there cause she hogs it. So I went and knocked on her door the other day after she got home, so I knew she was there. I knocked for 10 minutes constantly and she wouldn't open the door. So I wrote a note and stuck it to the washer saying that we needed to do laundry too, and that she can have Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and we will have the other days. Ten minutes later when I went down to the laundry room, the note was ripped off and in the garbage can already! So 2 hours went by and we didn't hear from her, then I left to go to the store. Right after I left she came up to the house looking for me. Obviously she knew I left cause she came out right after I drove away. She went and talked to my husband and told him that she needs to do laundry everyday as she only has one work uniform. (which I doubt is true). So he says "whatever" letting her set the rules!! And totally contradicting what I had said! Then she told him that she won;t answer her door or her phone when she is home, cause when she is home she likes to be alone. Nice huh?

So when I got home and found all this out, I was so mad! And so angry at my husband for letting her walk all over him. So I have been talking to people about this situation, and they all say my husband should be backing me up, and that we need to set rules for the tenant. So what I was going to do today is make a sign on the computer saying that her days are MOnday wednesday and friday and that these days are not negotiable. And also I will say something about the dryer lint trap - saying that it must be cleaned out daily.

I cleaned it the other day and I don't think she has cleaned it for over a month! It was so full that I could barely pull it out, and that is a fire hazzard! Also, we have found her washing one single item in the washer on a couple of occasions with the settings on medium or full!! What a waste- and we are the ones paying the bills!

So, please, what are everyone's views on this? What should I do?

Avatar for goldie15
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-05-2003
Tue, 06-10-2003 - 3:43pm
Being a landlord myself I can appreciate and understand exactly how you feel.

But and this is a big did not cause the problem nor did your tenant. the previous home owner did. If they did not advice her about the pending house sale or offer to you the exsistence of a lease with a current tenant then this is their fault.

I understand she may be a pain in the rear, she may be paying way under the going rate for rent, she may be causing all sorts of problems, but the law will be on her side. If you continue to (in her mind) harass her, badger her, leave little notes all over the place, bang on her door or in anyway try to change the rules that she was allowed to live by under the previous owners she can they accuse you of a "constructive eviction". In other words she will have you, not the other way around.

If she does go to the police or the authorities, she can sue you for all her moving expenses, time off work, legal fees and harrassment.

Trust me, we have been there. We bought a house as rental investemnet. The tenants quit paying their rent and when we got "too heavy handed" they sued us. Kept us in court for 11 months. Never paid rent the entire time. For 13 months they lived in the house rent free. Then when we went to court, we won, but we still lost 13 months of rent. Their lease with the previous landlord (not disclosed to us) protected them.

Just let her go. Do not offer to renew the lease, as a matter of fact give her as much warning as possible (at least 30 days)that you are not going to renew. Send it registered/returned reciept thru the mail. Let her do all the laundry she wants and just let it go.

Hopes this helps

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-01-2003
Wed, 06-11-2003 - 10:29am
Legally there is nothing that you can do. She has a binding lease with the previous landlord. That landlord gave her a "Quit" notice informing her that she has 60-days to vacate the premises. You are just going to have to bide your time. One piece of advice is for you and your husband to have little contact with her. I sense from your missive that tempers could easily flare and you do not want to risk a law suit. If that happens, it could be a long time before you can have her removed. Don't worry about the cats, they will be ok. As for the laundry, there is bound to be a time when she is not washing her clothes. Unfortunately, you are going to have to work either with her, which does not sound too promising, or around her until she vacates the premises. Did she have to put down a security deposit? You may want to ask the prevous owners. If so, the previous owners should have relinquished the security deposit to you since you are the new owners. I am just concerned that she may damage the premises before moving out. If you need any help, let me know. Good luck to you.


iVillage Member
Registered: 04-06-2003
Thu, 06-12-2003 - 12:36pm
As for the cats...

It is safer to keep your cats indoors at all times. They are healthier and live longer. Most apartment complexes that allow cats perfer that they stay onside too. So don't worry about those unless the tenant is not properly taking care of the cats and there are strong smells coming from the apartment.
Avatar for cl_2and1more
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-20-2003
Fri, 06-13-2003 - 10:28am
It is really a pain to have a renter already in place. It sounds like you did not want a renter at all for the time being. It is too late now but the renter should have been dealt with in the purchase agreement.

As for our current situation, remember that she is probably very upset at getting kicked out of her low rent housing. The former owner may have told her nothing and then boom, she gets a notice that she has to move. Well, that, of course, would make her angry at you before you even got there.

Please bear in mind that the things to talked about are very common. Cats being inside all the time are fine. And you don't have fleas and ticks coming inside with them. And I also have several friends that only have one work outfit and do laundry every day - although it is a small load.

Since the rules have seem to be set and you will not able to contact her, you need to leave a message on your answering machine or call her at work. Let her know that you understand that she needs to do her work clothes daily and you need to talk about a schedule. I lived in a condo with four places but usually only two of us were there. We would just move the wet clothes into the dryer and the dryer clothes into the basket if we came to do laundry. At a laundry mat you are allowed to remove wet clothes and let them set in a basket until the owner returns to dry them. So if you two can set aside your anger for a moment the washer can be easily worked out. (Just clean the lint trap yourself, I wouldn't fight for that one)

As a side note, you should have a copy of the lease. It should give you access to the apartment with proper notice. Do you have a key? And later when it is closer you should leave a note that you will be coming to measure for the changes you are making to the apartment. That should let you get a head start with what you want to do there and also should give you a clue as to if she is packing and getting ready to move. My dad is a landlord and people don't always move when they are told to, so I would look for signs that she is planning to move.

Best of luck and just try to keep calm.


iVillage Member
Registered: 05-07-2003
Fri, 06-13-2003 - 6:00pm
Has she let you know that she intends to move after that 60 days is up per the previous owners??

I have every legal notice under the sun as Property Mgmt is what I do for a living; let me know if there is anything that you need! Make SURE that you follow proper protocol. There is nothing that you can do about the washing machine situation outside of making peace with her. There is a legal notice that you can post on her door. It is a 'Change of Written/Verbal Rules' that gives them 30 days to comply to the new rule/s. (Say, scheduling certain days for her to use the machines.) After that 30 days, if she does not comply, you can begin to post her with 10-Day Notices to Comply or Vacate. After three notices you can evict on those notices alone. Keep REAL good track of her violations if you choose to go that route. She is in a very sensitive situation, losing low cost housing, and she'll make you out to be the bad guy if she can. I would suggest that since YOU have ownership of the home now, you post her with a 20-Day or a 30-Day Notice of Termination (- when it gets to that one-month mark of when she is expected to go -) of your own to ensure that should she NOT leave, you have the right to evict her. FOUR cats?? Is there a limit in your state on how many domesticated animals are allowed in a single family dwelling? That place has GOT to smell. Cats are MUCH more damaging than be prepared. I don't care if you change the cat box every DAY there will be repurcussions to having four cats down there. Good luck with that! Again, if there is anything you need, feel free to email me!
iVillage Member
Registered: 08-14-2002
Fri, 06-13-2003 - 10:29pm
Nah, I disagree with your comment about cats.

<<< FOUR cats?? ... That place has GOT to smell. Cats are MUCH more damaging than be prepared. I don't care if you change the cat box every DAY there will be repurcussions to having four cats down there. >>>

First of all, yes, TOMcats DO make a terrible smell - spray everything in sight with their smelly glands, especially if there are other cats around. However, if the cats are spayed/neutered, they do not spray and do not smell. The litter box smells.

Second, cats are not more damaging than dogs. Cats use a litter box and don't need to be let out. Dogs do it on the carpet or the furniture, laundry, anything if you forget to let them out, and sometimes even if you don't. Cats do not chew wood trim or furniture, dogs do. Cats will sharpen their claws on your couch, but usually prefer a scratching post if you will provide one for them. Cats don't bark at all hours of the night until the neighbors call the cops, dogs do.

Just wanted to get my two cents in. BTW, I am *not* a "cat-lover" vs. a dog lover. I have both varieties in my house, and love them both dearly. I just know what their needs and limitations are, and how to take care of them properly.

Of course, if this tenant has been neglecting proper care/neutering of her cats, then you will have some problems. The same goes for dogs, but I believe the damage from neglected or unproperly cared-for dogs is MUCH worse. Either animal, properly cared for, make delightful pets and good house-mates.