Horrible Tenant / Rent to Own


#1

Have a horrible tenant that destroyed a home of mine. Thankfully she put a significant amount of cash down at the outset. I went to evict her and she hired a pro bono attorney claiming mold and inadequate living conditions when it’s clear from before and after pictures of this home that it’s all her doing. That said, she paid, I let her back in, and re: damage to home legalese was written such that we would try to come to agreement and arbitrate if necessary.

She’s now holding back some of rent in escrow and claims to have inspector coming to document. My choices are taking her to court over damage that was her doing, or just bite the bullet and spend $3500 to repair entire home. I’m leaning towards the latter, knowing that it’s not unlikely for her to destroy home again. Any suggestions on how to protect myself? Also considering instituting a “no pets in rentals” new policy.


#2

The mistake you made was in letting her back in. You can not do the same thing a second time and expect a different result. Evict her again and this time make it final.


#3

It is natural to be bitter and justify your situation, but think about what a judge will say. What proof will you submit and what proof will tenant submit? Would a neutral party think that you’ve done something (anything) wrong? If so, you should address that first so you can claim “clean hands.” (“Hey judge, I did everything I could to make this person happy, she’s being unreasonable and she’s ruining my property!”)

You’re already being bullied by this tenant and if she’s holding back some of the rent you will be best served by caving in (meet her demands) if they are not unreasonable (consider it a learning experience). Or, you can file suit for the rent and damages and take her to court. You will probably lose money in the process and you will not be able to recover from her (can’t squeeze blood from a stone) but consider it a learning experience.

You should research, read, and become familiar with your state landlord-tenant laws and MHP tenancy laws. You know her lawyer will.

Having before-and-after pictures is very important in a situation like this.

Note, mold is not necessarily something that you will be held responsible for unless you did something to cause it.

Finally, I agree with Greg that you made a mistake not escalating immediately. If you really think you’re in the right and she’s in the wrong, let a judge sort it all out.

My 2 cents.

Brandon


#4

Thanks @Brandon - I’m in agreement and plan to bite the bullet and cover the repairs which should afford me more flexibility in the future should I need.

Respectfully disagree @Greg - it’s not as black and white as most cases. I felt offering an olive branch (which happened to be letting her pay a significant amount of back rent) would help fund repairs and potentially rid myself of any additional liability or possible additional downside that could ensue.

I think the main lesson learned is to make sure to regularly inspect and document home conditions.