The Trouble Maker who Pays Rent

Just bought our first park this year and it has been such a rewarding experience. After a significant rent increase to bring the park up to area comparisons, we were versed and prepared for the worst and have learned so much from this website but we were pleasantly surprised that 99% of our tenants were all on board and happy to see change. Everyone pays on time, and we have zero issues except for one tenant. From day one, he let us know he didn’t like the new rules or the rent increase and uses every encounter with us to make sure we know this. He does however pay rent on time and follows the rules he hates. We understand you cannot please everyone so this issue we have let go and just let him stew. Now we are finding out that he has been visiting our 99% happy tenants and feeding them false information about park proceedings to get them to be angry along with him. We are slowly seeing a change in the attitude of the park. I do know this tenant has been evicted from a park in the past. My question is, do you evict a tenant for something like this to keep a happy park or kill him with kindness?

Killing him by any other means would be 100% more successful than kindness. Bad tenants could care less how you treat them as they have a general resentment toward landlords and will only turn your kindness against you.
Evict him now if you can, do not threaten to evict just go ahead and evict. If legally you can not evict him then you must start a campaign to turn the rest of the residents against him. He will never come around and will forever be a problem in your community.

I would send a letter to each of the tenants confirming your intentions with the park, disclaiming the bad rumors, without discussing the source, and letting the tenants get to know you a bit. I’ve done this, and it goes a long way toward building a good relationship with tenants and giving them a basis to reject the falsehoods that the bad apple is spreading.

Use your power of eviction and the remaining residents will see a clear message of how you operate.

Eviction was my gut instinct but wanted the opinion of those I knew had more experience. Thanks for the direction

In these situations I usually try to get a feel for whether I can talk to the individual into changing or not. Sometimes they are feeling you out when you first buy a park. You could tell him to knock it off or you’ll evict him. It takes practice to judge people and situations like this. I have a tenant who is an old drunk who pays his rent annually in advance, obeys rules and keeps his place immaculate. When I first bought the park he gave me a hard time. After a few months he saw I was and good man who is also strict on rules. He backed down and has been a good tenant. Now I kinda like the guy. Tenants will test you. That being said, eviction is a fine choice, it will set the tone for the park, so that’s good. In my area I would just non renew the tenants monthly lease. That’s the easy sure fire way to do it.

The only thing that concerns me on this case is the potential for the tenant filing a “landlord retaliation” claim. While it sounds like there would be no grounds, it would be worthwhile to potentially have an attorney look at the file and make sure that there are no grounds.

I’m far less experienced than some of the other investors here, but from my experience parks are rumor mills and people love to gossip. As a park owner its impossible to stop crazy rumors and stories from spreading through the park. I train the manager to correctly convey the parks rules, philosophies, and plans to tenants through daily interactions, and if tenants want to believe conspiracy theories from a disgruntled crazy tenant over the professional manager with authority on the subject I can’t save them. Personally I would almost never even consider evicting a tenant for spreading rumors or having a negative attitude, and would expect things to either calm down over time as his rumors get discredited, or for the tenant to fall behind on rent and get evicted anyway. It’s your park though, don’t be afraid to go with your gut and stick with it.

You could also simply choose not to renew their lease. If you are on month to month then you will need to give the required amount of notice based on your state laws. If on a long term, say 12 months, then you just have to wait it out (unless you can evict for valid reasons). Typically you do not have to give a reason for non renewal - but as Frank says - check with your attorney.

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State and local laws differ, but in most of the non coastal states, you can evict a tenant for any or no reason, as long as it’s not an illegal one (ex. race, religion, age, family status, whistle blower,…). While tenant discrimination insurance coverage is available, it usually isn’t included in a park package insurance policy. If not available as an addendum, it usually cost about $1,000 to $1,500 / year to add.

The best park management I’ve seen operate have clear reasonable park rules that are consistently enforced - which is probably the #1 loss control tip too. Remember that when you have 100 tenants and make Ol’ Joe clean up the junk in his yard, you made 1 upset, and 99 pleased - you just want hear from the 99 right away.

I hope this is not off topic, but in the past many times I have been confronted by someone that is just simply hostile toward me-- usually without any provocation.The way I started dealing with these people is to casually walk up to them very close for a somewhat private conversation and state;

“I realize that you feel that I have done something to harm you. I wish to apologize for that, and can we get along and make things work more smoothly?”

Typically, the person will realize they are a jerk, and get dumbfounded and stutter out some reply that ends with “Yes. Let’s work together.”

I have only had one become even more confrontational, and that was a a storage rental unit where I was the tenant and the company had failed to maintain their roof and I lost about $1 Mil in network equipment due to roof leaks.

I know of park owners who have walked up to the tenants to chat and later been arrested when the tenant claims that they attempted to assault them. Personally, I would never want to meet with a tenant unless it is with witnesses in a public area. This is America 2015 and all you have to do is claim that someone tried to hit you or threatened you and you’re off to jail. There’s nothing that you need to ever talk to a tenant about in person. They can send in their question by mail (so that you then have a legal record) or phone it in and let it go to voicemail (so you again have legal record). The only communication you need with your tenant is if they don’t know where to send the rent, or they have a utility problem, or are giving the required notice that they are leaving – and that does not require a face-to-face encounter.

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I also have delt with hostile difficult tenants that have a basic personality flaw that causes them to be negative toward everything and everybody. If this is the type of person you end up dealing with you will be left with no option but to evict. I always have a witness present on first encountering this personality but this is not always possible. Back off immediately if this is what you encounter without a witness. All future encounters must be with a witness unless your intent is to cross the line and provoke the individual. I have had false charges brought against me in the past including assault but always had a witness to protect my back.
However once a tenant has been proven to have filed false charges you then have the upper hand.
My policy is fairly basic. This is my community, my rules and if you don’t like something about living here you will not be staying to cause me stress.

Don’t renew his lease or evict as soon as possible. Tenants have rights certainly… but it is your property and your investment. If he is a thorn in your side he is most certainly a thorn in the side of a few of your good tenants. Every tenant at one point or another sits and ‘does the rough math’ on how much money you get every month from everyone in the park. Then there is that one person who thinks that he has a ticket to harass you and cause you heartache. Best that he moves on…