Selectively Raising Rent - Is It Discrimination?

Friends -

I have a tenant who is consistently late paying his rent. We’ve got a new judge in town who, inexplicably, does not hold tenants responsible for paying their court costs as the previous judge did (approximately $105 every time I have to take him to court - which is now monthly). My tenant plays the game of paying the rent right in front of the judge on/about the 20th of the month when we have him in court, and the judge says ‘case dismissed’ without making us whole for the cost of hauling him into court.

So I’m thinking of perhaps raising his rent $100/month. That way, if I am not awarded court costs and am ‘only’ awarded his rental amount (which would be $100/month higher), then I’ve in effect been reimbursed for court costs.

What I’m worried about is being charged with some sort of price discrimination. This tenant would be the only one in the park at the new, higher +$100/month price. This is Oklahoma (not California, thankfully!), so I’m not too worried. But has anyone had experience with charging tenants higher prices because of their bad credit (or for how frequently you have to haul-off their junk, or mow their lawn, or for any other reason?).

Am I wise to raise the tenant’s rent?

Thank you much!


Post Edited (07-13-09 22:30)

This judge sounds fishy. What does the judge say when you explain that you had to pay $100 to collect your money in court? Does your lease call for the tenant to pay any legal cost associated with collecting payment?

But beyond that why even rent to someone so difficult? I would just give him a 30 day notice. If your lease is month to month, just give him a notice stating that you do not intend to renew his lease after next month. Ask a local lawyer for the correct paperwork.

Briton (IN)

Some states changed their laws last year concerning court costs. Before most landlords had in the lease that if they had to go to court then the tenants had to pay all court costs. If this is in your lease after 9-1-2008 in CO then no court costs will be awarded. The leases need to be changed to state that whoever is the prevailing party will be awarded court costs.

As far as bumping up the rent for your problem units, I would look at that as “Constructive Eviction”. You bump it up so high the tenant decides they have to move out. Perhaps it would be easier to buy them out if they own the mobile home and let them go away to become someone elses problem child.

I am with Briton on this one. Cut this guy loose. Send him the proper notice that states you are not renewing the lease (the reason we have recommended always using a month to month lease for landlords).

If they come in and beg to stay for some reason then you can negotiate the new lease letting them make the offer of higher rent.

“Sir, we have spent over $600 in court costs trying to collect the rent you owe. We simply cannot afford this any longer. We have not renewed your rental contract and will seek a new tenant that is willing to pay their rent without us having to take them to court.”

At the very least, they may offer to pay the back due court costs. At worst you get the home and/or lot back and get rid of this guy.

Tenants like this will kill your park. Every park has them and they poison the rest of the park once they begin bragging about how they got over on you (and trust me they will brag). Soon everyone will do it until you make an example of this tenant.

Scott had one about a year ago that tried every trick in the book to not pay and still stay. He got free legal service to represent him. He told everyone in the park he “would own the park.” Once the free legal attorney got the details on the case the refused to show up for court and left word with the magistrate (small claims judge here) that they no longer represented him. The guy tried to claim all kinds of wild things in court but each time he started talking the magistrate stopped him and explained he did not care about that, did the guy pay the rent? The guy could only say that he did not. He lost immediately and was evicted.

The day of the eviction Scott pulled into the park and tenants came running up to his truck clutching their rent in hand to pay him. He had a waiting line of folks who held back from paying him because they thought the bad tenant would win.

As Barney would say, “Nip it in the bud.”

“Not renewing the lease” puts you in the driver’s seat. You are not terminating the lease early so no argument there from the tenant. You are well within your means not to renew. It is your land.


Post Edited (07-14-09 06:40)

i would never let the guy stay. as was said in the earlier posts do not renew his contract. we were up against the same problem in our park, and after the sherriff hauls the first one off the rest seem to fall in line fairly well. We are located in western pa and are fairly lucky to have a magistrate that is not very tenant friendly if they are making no attempt to pay. good luck