Author Topic: How to handle damage caused by psycho tenant  (Read 5350 times)

Stephaniekb

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 27
How to handle damage caused by psycho tenant
« on: October 14, 2015, 12:23:06 PM »
Looking for some input on handling a situation with a psycho tenant -- the kind who badgers you incessantly until he gets the answer he likes and who threatens you with three kinds of legal action within three weeks of moving into your property. There are two entrances to our property -- a sliding door closest to the driveway, and a door at the lower level. The sliding door did not have an exterior lock when we purchased the property, and when showing the house to the tenant we discussed that we were hoping to either repair or replace the door so you could lock from outside the house. We were in the process of pricing various options, leaning towards keeping the existing door and retrofitting a new lock. Our contractor took photos of some minor wear to the door that he said could be addressed by adding weatherstripping. Psycho tenant did not like this solution, and kept complaining about the door. Two weeks later, my husband and contractor went back to look at the door, and decided that the damage to the door required replacement. However, the contractor later compared the two photos and noticed showed that the damage was much more extensive in the second photo, and showed signs of having been sanded, too. He confronted the tenant who obviously lied and tried to blame the damage on his children.

We would like to charge the cost of the new door to the tenant's security deposit. The contractor has documented before/after photos which show more than normal wear and tear -- it looks like a chunk of the door was chisled out and sanded. I'm trying to decide how to handle this with the tenant: should I notify him now that the door cost is being charged to his security deposit? Or wait until his lease ends and we get him out of there (still 10 months away, not that I'm counting.) He is the kind of crazy that we can imagine him "falling" and suing us, or causing whatever other legal trouble he can think of, so I'd prefer to wait until he's out, but I also want him to know that he can't get away with this kind of malicious trickery. Seeking ideas on how to handle this situation.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3057
  • Location: Emmaus, PA
Re: How to handle damage caused by psycho tenant
« Reply #1 on: October 14, 2015, 12:42:47 PM »
You can't evict him for completely unreasonably breaking part of the unit?

salmp01

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 120
  • Location: Minneapolis, MN
Re: How to handle damage caused by psycho tenant
« Reply #2 on: October 14, 2015, 12:55:33 PM »
I'd send him a bill now and ask him to pay within 30 days.

beltim

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2852
Re: How to handle damage caused by psycho tenant
« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2015, 01:03:18 PM »
I don't think escalating matters with a "psycho" is a good solution.

I'm a bit confused, though - how would weather stripping enable your tenant to lock the door?

If you were planning to retrofit a lock anyway, it seems like the most you could charge the tenant would be the lesser of:
1) the actual cost of damages
2) the difference between a new door and adding a lock to the existing door.

Stephaniekb

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 27
Re: How to handle damage caused by psycho tenant
« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2015, 07:17:08 PM »
Beltim, my husband agrees with you. I think we're going to handle the situation by politely asking him to explain why the door became so damaged in just a few weeks. He won't be able to explain it, and even the "my kids did it" excuse doesn't make sense because the damage was more sanded down in the after situation. Plus that isn't even an excuse because he's still responsible. And yes, we're going to charge him for the difference between what it would have cost to install a new lock and applying weather-stripping to make the door airtight vs. the labor and materials for fitting a new door. His argument is going to be that my husband originally said that we were going to buy a new door when we showed him the house. But after he moved in we told him that we were instead going to retrofit the existing door. But that doesn't give him the right to purposely damage the door to push us to buy a new door.

fishnfool

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 337
Re: How to handle damage caused by psycho tenant
« Reply #5 on: October 14, 2015, 07:53:18 PM »
With the type of tenant you unfortunately have for another 10 months I'd be tempted to bolt that slider shut and tell them it is no longer a entry door. Hope you don't have a lot more trouble over the next 10 months.

Good luck!

Stephaniekb

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 27
Re: How to handle damage caused by psycho tenant
« Reply #6 on: October 14, 2015, 09:40:17 PM »
That's actually a really good idea!!!!

Fishindude

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2180
Re: How to handle damage caused by psycho tenant
« Reply #7 on: October 15, 2015, 09:38:19 AM »
Just suck it up and replace the door.  You knew it was bad when you rented him the place, and had you gotten repairs done timely, you might have avoided complete replacement costs.

Save that documentation of damage in the event you have other problems down the road.


Meanwhile you could straight up "out psycho" him.
Maybe let him overhear murderous screams and let him see you sneaking out a huge body sized bundle wrapped in plastic and duct tape to your car trunk late at night.

MacGyverIt

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 233
  • Location: Not in a tropical, underpopulated location. And that's just wrong.
  • What Would MacGyver Do?
Re: How to handle damage caused by psycho tenant
« Reply #8 on: October 15, 2015, 04:21:54 PM »
Hopefully you've got all the landlord/tenant laws covered and you know what to do if you must evict the tenant. If he's barely moved in and already purposefully damaging the property, rather than address their concerns with you directly. The situation may only go down hill from here.

Bearded Man

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1142
Re: How to handle damage caused by psycho tenant
« Reply #9 on: October 15, 2015, 05:26:47 PM »
Hence why I only do month to month leases anymore, such as when I signed my most recent leases/renewals. With annual leases you take on all of the risk. I'd rather have the unit vacant than a crappy tenant. I'd give 20 days notice (in WA) to vacate, then once they are moved out, take it out of their security deposit. This way they are out of my property so they cannot do more damage out of spite, and if they come back and do damage to the exterior, I'll involve the Police.

I think there is a clause in my leases about Attorneys fees if I win, in that they have to pay mine, should they bring an action against me. So this way I can easily and quickly get rid of them, take the money out of their security deposit, and make it to my advantage if they try to bring legal action against me.

Oh, by the way, I had a tenant recently try to become a princess on me after moving in. After I caught her in several lies, I gave her the option above and she straightened out right away and the BS stopped.

The way I see it, you are now forced to replace the door rather than just the lock, as a result of damages that he is obviously lying about, with pictures to prove it. I mean, he doesn't deny that damage has occurred on the count of the evidence probably, he just blames it on his kids, which makes no difference, not that that obvious lie holds any water. Even if it did, he is still responsible for his "kids" attempt at playing Bob Villa.

Since you are stuck in a lease, you may not have it as easy as my suggestion, but I strongly urge you to only do month to month leases moving forward.
« Last Edit: October 15, 2015, 05:49:26 PM by Bearded Man »

clarkfan1979

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1942
  • Age: 40
  • Location: Pueblo, CO
Re: How to handle damage caused by psycho tenant
« Reply #10 on: October 16, 2015, 07:10:27 PM »
Sounds like a scary tenant. Good luck in the future. Hopefully he calms down. Maybe he is having a bad week.

Stephaniekb

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 27
Re: How to handle damage caused by psycho tenant
« Reply #11 on: October 18, 2015, 09:36:00 PM »
Today's update: today a neighbor at the property called to tell us that our tenant had been burning trash outside (our property is in a rural area with high fire danger due to drought). The neighbor politely educated the tenant about the reasons why outdoor fires are banned, and then called the sheriff when the tenant continued to burn trash. In addition, the neighbor reported that there's a lot of yelling going on at the property, which he also asked the tenant to cease. Our lease is pretty specific that all of these things are violations.

Blatant

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 175
Re: How to handle damage caused by psycho tenant
« Reply #12 on: October 19, 2015, 09:23:39 AM »
You have a clause barring yelling? Sweet ...

babysteps

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 119
  • Location: Southern Tier NY State
Re: How to handle damage caused by psycho tenant
« Reply #13 on: October 20, 2015, 08:06:29 AM »
Today's update: ... Our lease is pretty specific that all of these things are violations.

Yay - now you can give notice (following local law & terms of your lease) that the lease is terminated due to violations on the tenants part (or, if the lease doesn't allow early termination for violations, notice of whatever remedy the lease does specify).

Document everything.  Ime, psycho tenants have a high correlation to "folks who sound rational in court for the first 5 minutes and know how to work the system".

Good luck, stay safe!

EvergreenHills

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 2
Re: How to handle damage caused by psycho tenant
« Reply #14 on: October 20, 2015, 04:19:01 PM »
Might not be a bad idea to install some security cameras around the property. Just as some additional insurance.

iamlindoro

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1520
    • The Earth Awaits
Re: How to handle damage caused by psycho tenant
« Reply #15 on: October 20, 2015, 04:34:53 PM »
I think there is a clause in my leases about Attorneys fees if I win, in that they have to pay mine, should they bring an action against me. So this way I can easily and quickly get rid of them, take the money out of their security deposit, and make it to my advantage if they try to bring legal action against me.

You probably want to take that clause out, since if you attempt to do so, the tenant demands that money back, and you refuse, you'd be on the hook for the amount, damages ($500 per day, up to $5000), and legal fees.

http://www.washingtonlawhelp.org/resource/your-rights-as-a-tenant-in-washington#_Toc426978453

Quote
The landlord cannot put a term in an agreement that:

...

Quote
Says you must pay the landlord's lawyer fees if an argument goes to court, even if you win. (RCW 59.18.230(2)(c).)

http://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=59.18.230

Goldielocks

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6637
  • Location: BC
Re: How to handle damage caused by psycho tenant
« Reply #16 on: October 21, 2015, 12:16:34 AM »
Lol. Likely the tenant thought he would be helpful by attempting the change himself.  That happened to us and resulted in kitchen wiring shorting out.



I say suck it up if not a huge qmount over whqt you thought.  And write a note advising tenant that all repairs must be authorized by you first, to avoid damages applied to damage deposit if not professionally completed.

BlueHouse

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3277
  • Location: WDC
Re: How to handle damage caused by psycho tenant
« Reply #17 on: October 24, 2015, 08:25:16 PM »
Wait, did your husband tell the renter that the door would be replaced and then AFTER the renter moved in, you guys told him it would just be retrofitted with a lock?  In that case, I think your renter was trying to find a way to force you to make good on your initial promise.  I think you should just replace the door and try to make it through the next 10 months.

Quote
His argument is going to be that my husband originally said that we were going to buy a new door when we showed him the house. But after he moved in we told him that we were instead going to retrofit the existing door.