Problem Tenant & Fence Issue

I’ll try to make a long story short…We have a tenant who applied as a single mother with two children. The lease is for her and her two children only. A guy started coming around occasionally and she said he was her brother. When it became apparent he was living there, we said he had to provide a background check and application. He refused, but admitted he’s a convicted felon and also admitted that he’s her husband. We told him he’d have to leave. He wouldn’t. We called the police, who at first did nothing because he was in 'invitee," but when he threatened another resident and we filed for eviction against our tenant, the police put a CTW on him. He admitted to the officer that he lived there. I asked the officer if he would include that in the police report and he assured me that he would. This was on a Friday and the eviction hearing was the following Tuesday. My partner picked up the police report on his way into court and the officer stated that he put a CTW on him, but did not mention the part where he admitted to living there. As a result, the judge rules we didn’t prove our case.This tenant has also violated pretty much every rule: digging in the yard, old/junk appliances piled in the yard, a prohibited unlicensed utility trailer on the lot, working on cars, etc. My partner had photos showing these violations and asked to show them to the judge, but the judge refused to look at them, saying they "had not been entered into evidence properly."Finally, the woman was behind on her rent and this was listed on the dispossessory, but the judge ruled that since he failed to prove the lease violations, she was dismissing the case and would not consider the issue of past due rent.I called several attorneys and they want $1000-$1500 to do the eviction. But in the mean time, she paid the past due rent. We believe the husband is still there, but he stays inside.There’s a fence between her lot and the one next to her. This is the only fence in the 56-lot park. When her husband threatened the neighbor, it stemmed from an issue over the fence. The problem tenant said their water shutoff was on the other side of the fence, so he had to go into the other neighbor’s yard. The police told me this was the reason he was on the adjoining lot. So, we decided to take the fence down to avoid any future problems. Also, the fence was in poor condition and was leaning toward the other neighbor’s lot. This fence was there when they bought the home.My partner started taking the fence down today and the woman came out and ordered him to stop. When he didn’t, she called the police - who told him that we have to put the fence back up and maintain it for her. He explained that we own the park and she complained that she had to go on the other side of the fence to reach her water shutoff, so we were taking it down. The police told him he couldn’t and that she would be pressing charges. This just happened, so I don’t know what charges she could possibly come up with. But does anyone know if a park owner is prohibited from removing fences from their property? This seems insane.

You simply must get these tenants out.  They are violating park rules, they’ve lied to you about the ‘husband’ being a ‘brother,’ and he’s a felon.  So it seems you would be well-served to get an attorney to handle this case, and to handle these judges, and appeal the judge’s ruling if the judge again says the tenant can stay.You must enforce your rules equitably and evenly and without bias, and provided you require all residents to apply to live with you and run a background check fairly on all of them, then there should be no problem getting the felon evicted.  You are not discriminating by enforcing your rules for all residents.  But given the judge’s behavior, I would definitely get an attorney and learn everything he/she is doing to follow the law in processing this eviction, and make sure these dangerous tenants are not in your community.  Can you imagine how this judge would rule against you if the felon’s neighbor sues you for damages…?  Any tenant harmed by the felon in your community will have no problems proving you knew about the felon ‘and did nothing’ to save them from him.So get going with an attorney, follow the law, enforce your rules evenly and keep your community safe for all the other residents by evicting the felon and his family.-jl-

Why don’t you file for another court date.
If it is your policy that everyone must pass a background check and it’s in the rules and you have the police report.
You can subpoena the police officer and haw him read in court where he wrote the man admits to living in the park without background check.

Probably won’t get that far as the court will look foolish.

I have had similar problems where the small town police officer sides with the resident instead of the out of town owner.

But if you push the issue, go to county attorney more than likely they will make him leave without another hearing.


I didn’t read all of it, too bad police didn’t write that he admitted living there.
Like Jefferson said get a lawyer
And call county attorney

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. We have a Criminal Trespass Warrant against the convicted felon husband, so legally, he can’t be there. I think that should cover our legal obligation to protect the other residents. But we believe he’s still there (stays inside).We’re trying to find a good attorney. The first one I called ($1500) said I had to give them 60 days notice. Besides the fact that they’re violating the lease terms, I have a month-to-month lease. I said that I thought “worst case” scenario, I’d tell them I’m not renewing their lease and give them 30 days. He said he thought you always had to give tenants 60 days. I called another attorney, who asked me to send him all of the paperwork, which I did. I’m waiting to hear back. But when I told him we had a rule in the lease that anyone on the property more than 3 days a week or 7 days a month had to be approved, he said he never heard of such a thing and I should remove it from the lease immediately; there should be no reference to the length of time guests can stay. (That clause is in there for situations just like this.)I’ll keep searching for an attorney that I’m comfortable with handling the case. Today, the tenant started screaming at my partner that we’re discriminating against her because we won’t mow her lawn. Every tenant in the park is responsible for their own lawn and that’s in the lease she signed. But she’s now demanding we replace her fence and mow her lawn. (We do have someone mow the vacant lots and the yards for home’s we own, but every resident is responsible for their own.)The real kicker is that we’ve spent a tremendous amount of money turning the park around from a drug infested ghetto to a respectable community. The Chief of Police has been supportive from the start (and my partner will see him on Monday about what transpired today). Many police officers and people in the community have remarked how much better the park is now. Even the people from the water company just commented to my partner that they no longer need a police escort to come out and turn someone’s water off. You’d think all that would count for something. We still have a couple lingering problems, with this tenant being the worst of them. I’ve never heard of a county attorney. Do you mean like a district attorney? Can we approach someone like that with this type of situation? The police officer said he’d testify if we subpoenaed him, but he also said he’d put it in the CAD report that the husband admitted to living there. I don’t know if we can “re-try” that since he’s technically gone now (due to the CTW).

When I had a problem I went to the county attorney and he helped me. The county attorney represented the town I think it may be different Than the DA which is for criminal matters.
This is a landlord tenant issue.
If the attorneys at giving you a hard time. Do it yourself. Get another court date and ask the cop to go with you.
Why don’t you ask the cop to go to the house and see if the guy is still there. If he is he would be arrested.
I have bad opinions of most attorneys so whenever possible I avoid them. Mostly I have wasted lots of money with lawyers.
The more they complicate this for you the more they will charge you.

OK, let’s start from scratch. What you’ve got is not working, and the tenant knows that and is making a fool out of you.You have a “tenant friendly” judge. They will toss any case you file regarding unpaid rent or other problems. I have faced these judges before. One would say at the start of every evictions case log “I apologize to all you hard working folks that you had to be here today” and would then shoot down just about every case, including one in which she tossed the case because the landlord had no written proof of the age of the person who received the demand letter in person. How do you beat this judge? You file a non-renewal of lease – that’s the only thing they can’t toss out. And, yes, it’s going to take 60 days to get it done – that attorney was correct (although I don’t know your state’s laws, but that’s the norm).This tenant sound like a typical “user” who will do everything legally allowed to delay being evicted. You have GOT to use an attorney if you want to be safe. $1,500 may be right for this case, but I have got to believe that there’s a local evictions attorney that’s cheaper (call around some apartment complexes and see who handles their evictions). They may file claims of harassment, discrimination, everything possible to scare you. That’s why you have to use an attorney as your shield.Here’s where you turn the table on the tenant. Go the police and hire an off-duty policeman for $35 to $50 per hour at the minimum amount of time (normally 4 hours). Have them go to the tenant’s house and tell them that they have been hired to watch them until they’re gone (clear this with the police and your attorney). If the guy is truly a felon, he will be terrified of having a cop watching him 24/7 (of course, you can’t afford 24/7, but he won’t know when the cop is there or not). Remember that the #1 fear of felons is going back to jail, and you are going to be hitting his rawest nerve with this plan, as he probably already break the conditions of his parole 10 times per day, and will freak out (just like if you were drunk and having a cop following right on the bumper of your car). He may run off after the encounter, which is great. We have a 100% success rate in situations in which we have hired off-duty policemen in uniforms and squad cars.You own the park, and you’re the boss. Period. This tenant has no rights except what’s in their (I assume month-to-month) lease. They are ruining your business and it’s time for them to go. Don['t let them manipulate you. Follow this plan and you can get the problem solved.

I’ll look into the idea of hiring the off-duty police officer because I know the guy is still there. He’s pretty brazen with the police. The day the officer put the CTW on him, when he was told to leave, the guy defiantly said, “I’m not going anywhere.” The officer told him he could either get on his bicycle and pedal out of there or he could go with him. To which, the guy asked, “Where are you going to take me?” And he officer said, “To jail.” The guy left (for the moment). The police have told us they have little respect for the law and when they do go to jail, they’re back out the same day. I was speaking with a Realtor about the situation and she said a friend of hers tried to evict a tenant for nonpayment and had all of her payment records in court, but the judge said they didn’t prove the tenant didn’t pay and the landlord lost. It seems like that burden of proof would be on the tenant because it’s impossible to prove someone didn’t do something. Even the time when I served a 60-Day-Notice-to-Vacate and then went to court with a copy of the Notice and proof it was served, I still have to provide a reason (an occupant refusing to provide a background check). And the judge asked the guy if he gave me the required background checks. The tenant admitted that he hadn’t and the judge ruled in my favor, but I wonder about the outcome if he said he had. According to the GA Landlord Tenant Handbook (published by the State of Georgia Department of Community Affairs), a landlord does not have to give a reason for non-renewal, as long as discrimination is not a factor. The book is presented in a Q & A format and it reads: “I have received notice that my landlord is not going to renew my lease. According to the terms of the lease, the landlord must provide a thirty (30) day notice that the lease will not be renewed. Does the landlord have to give me a reason for not renewing my lease?” The answer states, "No, a private landlord is not required to give a reason to renew a lease unless the lease so requires. The landlord can refuse to renew a lease for any reason but cannot discriminate based on race, color, disability, religion, nationality, or because children are in the household. A private landlord merely has to give the tenant notice of non-renewal or other notice as required under the lease. If there is no written lease, the landlord has to give the tenant a sixty (60) day notice to terminate the tenancy."I’m wondering if the judge may be concerned with discrimination, as she does not know the demographics of the park. I had one case where I evicted a white woman and it was a piece of cake. I sent the 60-day notice and didn’t have to provide any reason. The problems we’ve encountered have been with evictions of African Americans, which comprise the majority of our tenants. When another tenant recently moved a family into his rental home without providing us applications or background checks and I sent him a Notice, his response to my partner was, “It’s because they’re black, isn’t it?” We don’t discriminate and we’ve gone out of our way to help people of every color, but with some people in the park, every time we try to enforce a rule, that’s the response we get. Given that they’re almost all black - and we’ve approved many black tenants - I don’t understand the basis. But I’ve heard it a lot in GA. I’m from PA and had never heard that before getting into the South. We use the same criteria for everyone, regardless of color. But I think for him to even ask the question is offensive and racist (on his part). I’ll look into the idea of the police officer to watch them. And I’ll call around to some attorneys. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

You are not required by law to give a reason for a non-renewal of lease (I don’t know GA law, but that’s true in all the markets we operate in). Perhaps the judge is yanking your chain because you are not a lawyer. Again, this case needs to be handed over to a competent lawyer and you step completely out of it.It’s a whole different level of play when the police officer is on your dime, and not the city’s. When you are paying them to focus on this one tenant, the tenant’s fear will go up 1 million % – I guarantee it. The more “mouthy” he is with a policeman you’re hired, the more in trouble he’s going to be – that’s been our experience.As long as you follow fair housing and treat everyone the same, the discrimination threats will not go anywhere. Remember that J.P. judges are not all experts (many have no formal training at all).Hire the right people, hang in there 60 days, and you should be fine.

Frank, I don’t mean to pipe in on this, but with a restraining order in place doesn’t that mean the judge has already ruled the guy can’t be there.I believe its a felony to violate the order in most states.

There is a big gap between theoretical law and what really happens.

I practiced law in a small rural County and we had one judge who loved to throw her weight around.  She’d pull decisions out of left field, right after admonishing all the attorneys in the case that left field was not in play for that case.  Her picture appeared under “Bipolar” in the dictionary.  After one particular case where she made a decision based on a whim, and not the law, I asked to see her in private after the hearing.  She agreed.  We had it out pretty hard and I brought up some very specific examples of her not following the law.  It wasn’t comfortable, but from that point forward she didn’t make decisions based on a bias or a whim on my cases nearly so much.  Anyway, you might ask to stop by and ask your problematic JP what she wants as evidence for evictions when you are in her court.  Seek her counsel.  She might then see you aren’t a monster, just a small businessman trying to make a living and run a clean safe property, and then handle you professionally.  If she’s unreasonable, you can hire a lawyer and go the District Court route or Small Claims court route.  

And then there was the judge in Louisiana who ruled against me on a bunch of cases and then tells me after court “you would do a lot better in this court if you were represented by my wife”. His wife was a lawyer and, basically, you had to hire her on evictions cases or you lost. I called my lawyer to see if that was legal, and he told me in Louisiana it seemed to be. The bottom line is that Kurt is 100% correct – it doesn’t matter what the law reads, you have to find out what the judge requires to win in their court.