How To Handle The “Impossible” Tenant

Posted on September 6, 2011 by IC N in Legal
Tags:
tenant

For the sake of simplicity, I’m going to divide problem tenants into two groups: 1) behavioral and 2)verbal. “Behavioral” problem tenants take actions that jeopardize the welfare and aesthetics of thecommunity. “Verbal” problem tenants do their damage by harassment of the park management.
Both types are not conducive to a well-managed, profitable park, and must be immediately disarmedand/or removed from the property. However, in many cases, the proper steps can cure their issues andmake them a normal, paying tenant again.

“Behavioral” Problems

The first type of behavioral problem is the tenant who engages in criminal activity. The most common ofthese is manufacturing/dealing in drugs. Signs of this type of behavior include a constant stream of cars dropping by the house – normally at night – for very short intervals, as well as people milling around inthe street at night, in the vicinity of the mobile home.

The important step here is to do nothing yourself, but to only take action through the local policedepartment. You should never get directly involved with this type of tenant, due to risks of physicalharm to you and potential liability. Call the police department and tell them what you have beenobserving. If there really is something to what you suspect, the police will take care of it.

But if the police fail to take action, then your next step is to non-renew the tenant’s lease. Assuming thatthe tenant is on a month-to-month agreement, you can simply not renew, and they have to move outat the end of the next full month. Even then, it is smart to have a local attorney file this notice and tohandle any subsequent legal action to evict them.

The Tenant Who Won’t Keep Their Property Up

Equally disruptive – but not as scary – is the tenant who refuses to keep their property in an acceptablecondition. Debris everywhere in the yard, a house with a paint job that you can hardly tell what theoriginal color was, or grass that is 3’ tall. It is impossible to ask the rest of the park community to keep up their property when you allow this individual to get away with murder. So what do you do?
The first step is to notify the tenant in writing that they are not in keeping with the park rules. Thisassumes that your park has rules; if not, you need to adopt some immediately. It is essential to keepeverything in writing so that you have a legal paper trail in case you should have to go to court for anyreason.

Give the tenant a detailed request of what needs to be done to be in compliance with park rules, as wellas a timetable to complete the work. Of course, they will rarely meet this deadline, but it’s the criticalfirst step to show the court that you are trying to be reasonable.

Once the deadline has passed – and the clean-up has not been completed (or probably even started)– then you have two choices: 1) non-renew the tenant’s lease or 2) take matters into your own hands.To take matters into your own hands, I’m suggesting that you clean up their yard, mow the grass, orre-paint their house at your own expense. You can then either bill the cost back to the tenant, or justwrite it off. How do you choose what to do? The key is the tenant. If your tenant is old and infirmed,then they simply do not have the ability or funds to make the needed repairs. If they have paid theirrent like clockwork for the past several years, why cut off that income stream by evicting a good-payingtenant? If, however, the tenant is young and able to do the work themselves – but too lazy to do it –then you might want to bill it back to the tenant to send a clear message that breaking of the rules is nottolerated. You might break the charges up into several monthly installments to make it more affordable.But you cannot let people continue to ruin the park for everyone.

The Verbal Problem Tenant

These are the tenants who complain continuously about anything and everything. They don’t necessarilydisturb the other tenants – their aggression is focused on the park management. I have had these typeof tenants who will call at 11 PM and then again at 6 AM; they have virtually no boundaries.
These are much easier to dispatch than the behavioral problem tenants. You simply have to turn thetables on them.

Here’s how.

When the tenant calls to complain, tell them “you are clearly unhappy living here, you really shouldmove to a mobile home park where you would be happier.” This throws the tenant off immediately, asthey think that their power over you is that you don’t want to lose them. When you let them know thatyou don’t care about their rent anymore, they are now in a position of weakness. In addition, it costsaround $3,000 to move and set a mobile home. So for them to move, they will need to come up with$3,000 cash. Who’s in a position of weakness now?

Conclusion

Problem tenants can be solved. Don’t let a tenant ruin your day. Take action and turn the tables onthem. It’s good for you, and it’s good for the community.