Confrontation with belligerent tenant

Last night, I had the ugliest confrontation with a tenant that I have ever had.

A woman lived in our mobile home park and was always late with her rent. She would be 2 or 3 months past due and would not communicate with us. When she did communicate with us she disputed my records and was angry with me for charging her late fees.

An example: Last year she didn’t pay June lot rent. I mailed her an invoice for the rent plus a late fee. She called me and was upset, saying that she had paid the rent and had a money order receipt to prove it. I said bring it in.

She brought in the receipt. It was dated for June of an entirely different year.

In January we hired a lawyer to evict her. She came to us and said she had a place to move to and that she would sell her home and pay us all that she owed us from the proceeds of the sale.

We agreed to that and called off the eviction proceedings. We were just thrilled at the idea of getting rid of her.

It took her six months to sell her home. In the meantime she lived rent-free, hassle-free on our property. I tried to help her sell her home by referring people to her.

She finally sold the home and instead of paying us what she owed, she started giving us the run around.

She would tell me that she’s coming to the office but then she wouldn’t show. I knocked on her door. She was too ill to come to the door. The husband complained that I was never in when they came to the office. I said, “I’m here now. I’m coming to you.” He said they would settle up with us “tomorrow or the next day.” It was always tomorrow or the next day.

Last night, they were packing up their vehicles and moving out. I became the Bad Guy for showing up and asking for the rent they owed. They became extremely rude and belligerent toward me. Have you ever had four adults scream insults at you at the same time? I now have.

The husband and the son threatened me with physical violence.

I got $1,100 out of them (they owed $1,800). They would not take a hand-written receipt. I write hand-written receipts often if I’m away from the computer. There never has been a problem with hand-written receipts. They insisted that I drive back to the office (over a mile away) and make them a computer printed receipt.

We lost control of the situation. After she sold her home and was about to drive out, the woman was able to dictate how much she would pay us and what kind of receipt she would accept.

I never want to go through that again. What could I have done differently? Looking back, we should have gone ahead with the eviction in January. When things got heated, maybe I should have left and returned with a police officer.

What do you think?

To be frank, you are one of the worst mobile home park owners I’ve ever heard of. You need to accept 100% responsibility for the situation you have caused, enabled, and encouraged. This is entirely your fault - not the tenants’ fault at all.

Starting right NOW do the following:

  1. Enforce strict ‘no pay, no stay.’ Do not ever, ever, ever accept any excuse from any tenant for not paying rent. Just begin the notification process and then the eviction process as fast as the law allows.

  2. Do not ever knock on a door for rent or put yourself at risk of being threatened or shot. Serve tenants with a 5-day notice (or whatever your state requires) on/about the 6th of the month, charge the maximum late fee the law allows, and then file an eviction on the tenant on/about the 12th of the month.

  3. Hire a manager to be a buffer between you and the tenants. The manager’s job is not to knock on doors either. Your manager’s job is to do #1 and #2 above for you.

Once you start managing your park in a professional manner, you’ll quickly remove a few bad apples, and other seemingly-bad apples will quickly learn that you mean business, and become good apples paying rent in a timely manner.

Onward, upward,


Thanks, Jefferson, for your response. I do appreciate it.

Serve tenants with a 5-day notice (or whatever your state requires) on/about the 6th of the month, charge the maximum late fee the law allows, and then file an eviction on the tenant on/about the 12th of the month. <<

Are you saying, for example, serve them notice to evict on August 6 if August rent is not paid by then?

As it is now, they have until the 10th of the month to pay. After that there is a $50 late charge. We give them 30 day notice to evict.

Change your park rules. Evict as fast as the law allows.

Have an attorney advise you on your state’s laws. To find the right evictions attorney, call several of your county’s largest apartment complexes and ask who they use.

In most states you must sit tight for the first 5 or 6 days of the month. But on the 6th or 7th day you can serve non-payers notice to ‘Pay or Quit.’ This is not the eviction itself, this is a formal notice they must pay or be evicted in another few days.

Again, each state is different, but in general you can then file the eviction 5 days after you were able to serve your Pay or Quit notice (some states as as little as 3 days). We post the Pay or Quit notices on the front door of the home. To be 100% buttoned-up (at least this first time going to court), you should probably also mail a copy of the notice via certified return-receipt mail to the house. Your attorney will know exactly what to do.

So as soon as you serve the Pay or Quit, if they then pay, they must include the late fee (the maximum allowed by law). If they only pay their rent, still go through with the eviction. (Depending on the state, you may not be able to evict for ‘just’ unpaid late fees, but you can carry it forward and evict when the unpaid late fees equal one month’s rent.)

If they don’t pay within the (roughly) 5-day grace period, then you file the eviction on the 12th or 13th (as soon as allowable by law).

Your court date will probably be scheduled for 10 days later, so on roughly on the 22nd of the month you’ll go to court. If the tenants pay prior to going to court, they’ll need to pay the rent, plus the late fee, plus your court registration fee (probably around $50), plus the process serving costs (probably around another $50). If they don’t pay everything in full, then you still go to court on the 22nd. You’ll win because of their non-payment.

The judge will give them 48 hours to pay everything in full (which now includes the fees your attorney charged to appear in court). If they do not pay in full, you call the court two days later, pay still another fee to get a Writ of Assistance, which the court sends straight to the sheriff. The sherif should show up same-day or early the next morning; he will evict the tenants for you. You’ll need to be there to change the locks, or have your locksmith do it.

Now they are out, and your community is reverberating with word that you mean business. Your late payments from everyone else in your community will probably fall by half the first time you evict someone.

Once you have your attorney take you through one eviction, you can handle the next ones yourself. Almost all states allow you to represent yourself in court, or send your manager.

Let us know how it goes,


“NO GOOD DEED GOES UNPUNISHED.” I recently learned that quote and has completely changed my mentality.

I had a tenant that was consistently late for the past several years. I felt bad for her, she was older hispanic lady and seemed to be a hard worker but yet was consistently late with her rent (even though she had two relatively new cars in her driveway) After giving her several 3 day notices to pay, she would pay a portion of her balance but not all of it. This last time she told me she would pay tommorrow, then the next day, this happened for about 6 days.

Well, on the final day I stopped by her trailer two times just to give her the final warning (once in the morning and once in the evening). She said she will bring the rest of the money in later that day, which she didnt. Well the local Sheriff Dept came to the office that evening, she said I was harrassing her. Which I wasnt, I was giving her the last opportunity to pay. She started to cry in front of the deputy who happened to be Spanish as well. She brought out some receipts to show the deputy, she thought by lying to the deputy I wont file an eviction on her. The deputy had to call the DA to see if she can press charges on me, he wanted to take me to jail. I was very close to getting locked up that night.

So from now on no games, no second chances for anyone. Everything is strictly by the book.

This is similar to the story where the owner confronted the tenant, only to be arrested later when the tenant claimed that they tried to assault them. Rule #1, do not confront tenants on late rent. Let the court system do it.The no pay/no stay program is very simple: they pay rent or are evicted. There is no payment plan and nothing to discuss. Rule #2, do not try and do “favors” to your tenants. They will only interpret that as weakness. Set up fair systems (no pay/no stay is extremely fair and easy to understand and is used by virtually all utility companies) and then make no exceptions to those systems. In this case, the lady would have called and you should have said “I’m sorry, but we do not accept partial rent, but I hope you can get together all of the rent due, and late fees and court costs before the constable comes to throw you out. As long as you have all that together in time, you might be able to stay.” Then when they call and say, “I’ve only got half the rent and the eviction trial is tomorrow” say “I’m sorry, that only gives you a day to get the rest together, good luck.” Don’t get in the middle of their problems. The whole point of owning mobile home parks is to have very low management duties. The rent is very low. There is no reason they cannot come up with it. But it’s 100% their problem – not yours. Set up your system and let them work within the system – don’t give them opportunities to “cheat”, or you’ll end up back where you are in this situation.

Everyone has tried to be “nice” on collections at some point in their career. You tried it and you now know where it takes you. So don’t ever do it again.