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Getting rid of a problem tenant (no lease involved)

Getting rid of a problem tenant (no lease involved)

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  #1  
Old 01-06-15, 06:30 PM
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Getting rid of a problem tenant (no lease involved)

I just want this pest gone asap, we never signed a lease - what are my options in DC? (I don't live in the house)
 
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  #2  
Old 01-06-15, 07:12 PM
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Your options are to call lawyer and the local PD. I'll tell you now, you are screwed if they really don't want to leave.

Even with a signed lease it can take months to evict someone.

Some of our property manager types can give you more info....but it all depends on local laws.
 
  #3  
Old 01-06-15, 08:37 PM
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  #4  
Old 01-07-15, 03:08 AM
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Good link, Ray. Michael, it will all depend on if you are a "natural" person or not. Don't you just love legal talk?
A natural person with a freehold interest in the rental.......
 
  #5  
Old 01-07-15, 06:03 AM
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I had this problem 30 years ago. I owned a duplex in Indianapolis, living in one side and renting out the other half on a month-to-month basis, not using a lease. The first tenant I took was bad news - not paying, lying, constantly inviting friends over to make very loud music in the basement, ruining the swing door into the kitchen by taking it down and piling a load of dripping-wet laundry on it when her washer died and leaving it there. ( The boy friend was not troublesome.)

So 2.5 months in, I gave her a note saying I wanted them to move out in two weeks' time. Knowing she wouldn't move out I immediately called Small Claims Court and set a date to be heard about 10 days past her non-moving date. Sure enough, she didn't leave, so she got notice of our hearing.

I went to Small Claims Court with my reasons lined up and the note the tenant had written with her (worthless) promise to be out in two weeks, which had already passed. She begged for another month. The judge allowed her two weeks.

As I was leaving a bailiff asked me if I thought she would leave on time, and I said no. I was happy to pay another $20 on the spot for eviction service. When the day came the sheriff's department came and nailed (the law specifies the paper must be nailed) a notice to her door requiring she be out in 48 more hours or the sheriff's dept. would come and put their possessions on the sidewalk. So 48 hours later I had the locks changed and I taped a note on their door to the effect that I would unlock the door for them, but only up to midnight. About 11 p.m. she showed up with a U-haul (stolen?) and removed their stuff. I went around to be sure the windows were all shut then locked up again, went home and to bed. I learned later that it was illegal to have the locks changed before midnight.

About three hours later, fire engines came with lots of light and noise. I like to died! They had the wrong house number, so went away and to an address three blocks down the street. Whew! I went back into the rental side and this time checked every inch to be sure there weren't any unpleasant surprises left behind before I went back to bed.

There was one final kicker - about a year later the city notified me that my duplex was liable to be auctioned because of nonpayment of sewerage charges on the rental side. Of course it was the terrible tenant who hadn't paid that bill, and I hurried up and paid it. Turns out that other utilities (water, electricity) can be turned off for nonpayment, but there's no way to turn off the sewer. These days, sewer charges are just included in water bills, and the city doesn't have to be so drastic.
 
  #6  
Old 01-07-15, 07:40 PM
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In this case would a lease help me or hurt me? I figured if I did a Brooklyn style eviction they'd have no lease to sue me with. It's starting to sound like with a lease, specifically an end date, the worst case scenario is they stay a couple months after the end date as the eviction process unfolds ... ?
 
  #7  
Old 01-07-15, 08:27 PM
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I had chosen month-to-month so we could part company if that became necessary without waiting for a lease to expire. I learned later that nonpayment breaks a lease without question, and other behaviors can too, so I needn't have worried. ....... I believe in making notes citing dates and times, and specifics of the major offenses so you can remember better later, and to demonstrate a developing pattern. Documentation gives weight to your complaints. ....... Ummm - I'm not up to date on Brooklyn customs, so I didn't catch your reference. .....?
 
  #8  
Old 01-08-15, 03:53 AM
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I don't know how much a lease comes into play if/when you evict someone but if they don't want to leave, you'll have to take them to court. If they don't contest it, the judge will likely give them 10 days to get out but some deadbeats know how to work the system and can drag out the process. Some states give automatic extensions to those with kids.
 
  #9  
Old 01-08-15, 05:57 AM
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Brooklyn eviction = they wake up in their own bed, on the street.

Don't let them tug at your heart strings with kids. They got into both situations, kids and rent, with full knowledge, so let them take their responsibilities as adults.

I have one client who owes 5 contractors several thousands of dollars. He just refuses to pay. We all have FiFa's on his house, so it can't be leveraged as collateral or sold. He wrote me a bad check for a couple of thousand dollars. I went to face him the day after the bank politely told me it was bad. He KNEW I was coming and had his daughter drop his grandkid over for him to "babysit". Yep, softie. I didn't have the Sheriff take him to jail because of the kid. We're just waiting on him to die so we can divvy up the property.
 
  #10  
Old 01-08-15, 07:34 AM
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no kids, willing to sign a lease. so here's what I'm thinking, we sign a month to month lease and if the tenant doesn't leave/pay/whatever, I just initiate the eviction process. It could take a while but at least I know there's an end in sight. I heard DC is a squatters paradise and my fear is they eventually own my house (don't laugh, I've heard of this happening)...?
 
  #11  
Old 01-08-15, 07:51 AM
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FWIW, we don't do month to month leases - they are fixed term with the end somewhere in the spring or summer and that's it, no flexibility from us. Month to month gives the tenant too much control.
 
  #12  
Old 01-08-15, 12:17 PM
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I agree. A month to month lease is about like not having one. Make a term lease with a specified ending date. You can make it for as little as 6 months, for instance. If you decide not to renew it, you will have legal recourse to remove them via the legal system.
 
  #13  
Old 01-08-15, 02:05 PM
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How about fixed term, 6 months, but either can exit early if so desired?
 
  #14  
Old 01-08-15, 02:13 PM
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Why the early exit?

Tenants can move out whenever they want within a lease term but they still owe rent till the end of the lease or until we can find a new tenant (WI law, DC may be different). I can see no advantage to letting them get out earlier.
 
  #15  
Old 01-08-15, 02:38 PM
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The only advantage of letting them out early is the increased probability that my sanity remains intact
 
  #16  
Old 01-08-15, 02:48 PM
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You can always let them out early - you are under no obligation to enforce the lease if they want to violate it and you want to let them.
 
  #17  
Old 01-08-15, 05:07 PM
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The first thing I would do is read the law about evictions in Washington D.C. that Ray2047 posted in post #3 it may not be complete as it says it is a summary but it is complete enough. Then I would get a lawyer who understands DC law concerning rental properties. Whatever you do don't try force on your part as the law unfortunately is not in your favor. I am just glad I am a landlord in Maryland as the laws here are bad enough but in DC they are a nightmare. In DC for instance you have to deal with a Chief Tenant Advocate and a Rent Administrator before you can even evict a tenant.

So be sure to read that and then find a smart lawyer but also remember that the law is more on the tenants side and from my little bit of understanding of the law that I read in the link you need to give them 180 days before you can even sell your property. Also from my understanding of the law they make it nearly impossible in about every instance to evict a tenant which makes it hard to evict a bad tenant so you can fix it up for a better tenant. In Maryland you just give them 30 days notice that you want them out and if they refuse you take them to landlord tenant court.
 
  #18  
Old 01-08-15, 10:37 PM
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This is smelling more and more like a Brooklyn style eviction
 
  #19  
Old 01-08-15, 11:02 PM
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This is smelling more and more like a Brooklyn style eviction
Up to you of course as it is your property but I wouldn't try a Brooklyn style eviction unless you want to go to jail. If you do end up in jail the city could take your property away it has happened before. Better to get a lawyer and do it the legal way than to try to force them out. I have had to evict a tenant before so I remember my lawyers advice very clearly and that was "let me handle everything if you try anything on your own by trying to force them out you can land in jail". I said yes sir I will do as you say. A bit expensive but we got rid of a problem.

You could also do it on your own with a lawyers advice and then take the case to court yourself. The problem is you don't have documentation and that can make it harder to get rid of a tenant. It can also make it harder to collect damages too but you can at least try. I wish you luck and I sympathize with you as I do understand what is like to have a tenant from hell.
 
  #20  
Old 01-09-15, 05:36 AM
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This is unbelievable. Let's picture a scenario where a guy is living with his family in a home, his buddy comes into town to visit and stays in the guest room, no lease involved (which is why I initially didn't have a lease signed), the buddy decides "hmm I like it here, I don't want to leave." Am I hearing this right that the homeowner doesn't just call the sheriff and have him thrown out, he has to go through a bunch of legal steps and if he throws him out Brooklyn style that he goes to jail? I mean what's next, someone breaks into your home and now they have the right to stay there?
 
  #21  
Old 01-09-15, 05:44 AM
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You didn't have a contract for a business transaction, so your ability to enforce something that is not legally agreed to by both parties in writing is tanked. Squatter take overs happen in million dollar homes that are vacant due to owners living in another location, like a vacation home. It takes quite a legal battle to get rid of them.

Even if your tenants don't pay the rent, you don't have a contract stipulating that they even have to do so, nor the amounts due. I would institute a lease as soon as possible. It won't be long before they violate it and you will have good reason to have them evicted, backed up by a contract.
 
  #22  
Old 01-09-15, 08:00 AM
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Ok, lease it is with a definite end date. How do the squatter laws possibly help working taxpaying citizens (off topic), this is ridiculous
 
  #23  
Old 01-09-15, 09:19 AM
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Your buddy visiting and wanting to stay is a different scenario altogether.

If it was a "Hey, you can stay in my guest house/vacant rental til you get back on your feet" that would probably be one thing. But someone in your primary residence that you occupy with your family is another animal.
 
  #24  
Old 01-09-15, 10:15 AM
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Larry has a good idea about asking them to sign a lease but remember now that they are in the property they also have the right to refuse the lease. That is where you get into a sticky situation as then they can just say I am here to stay and they could stay there as squatters. One of the reasons why you always need a lease as even in DC you still have a better chance of getting rid of them if needed. Just recently in Maryland squatters were forced to leave the premises of a Gaithersburg home and arrested for squatting but in some places it is much harder to get rid of them.

Here is a link to a newspaper article that shows what happens when you try to force a tenant out Landlord arrested for being in tenant’s home - Brandon Sun . It is very short and to the point and this took place in Montana but the laws are the same throughout the country. There are many other examples of this same kind of story and advice websites for landlords that will tell you the same thing. I know with my previous tenants I would have really liked to force them out but I didn't want to end up in jail either.

If it were me I would just sell the property if not to a private party then to the city and try to get as much as I could get out of it. Then those tenants are someone else problem and no longer yours but before you do I still suggest you get a lawyer who understands real estate and especially landlord tenant issues.
 
  #25  
Old 01-23-15, 12:06 PM
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Does a lease have to be notarized to be valid or can we both just sign it and it's valid?
 
  #26  
Old 01-23-15, 12:19 PM
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Not around here but a check of your local laws would be in order.
 
  #27  
Old 01-23-15, 01:28 PM
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Lawyers are expensive and can complicate things. Why not try Small Claims Court first? See my post on 1-07. It's a cool system, and pretty idiot-proof (me being the idiot in those years). No lawyer yet, just plaintiffs, defendants, and the judge. Your matter has to be below a certain monetary limit - I forget if the limit was $3500 or $5300 then. Its decisions are binding and enforceable, it worked, it was cheap (total cost to me under $100), it's well set up for inexperienced plaintiffs, we even have several area court sites instead of having to go downtown for the Big Time here. Surely D.C. has the system too? It should be in the phone book under city or district government listings. If it turns out not to work, you can always resort to a lawyer easily enough.
 
  #28  
Old 01-23-15, 01:34 PM
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I don't need to sue her I just want a hard move out date and to be able to enforce said date
 
  #29  
Old 01-23-15, 01:49 PM
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BTW: I did go to using a lease pretty soon - the time my tenant moved out in December and I learned the hard way that it's impossible to rent out a house in winter here. After that it was always a lease, starting with however many months it took till spring, then 12 month. ........In Indiana the law is written favorably for the landlord, which is nice. If a tenant is undesirable (no pay, growing drugs on site, whatever) then they've broken the lease and there's not a big legal problem for the owner. The landlord has the right to inspect the property at reasonable intervals to make sure it's in decent condition (pet birds not pooping on hardwood floor, etc). We do have a horror story about squatters persisting (via legal maneuvers) every few years, but my property would qualify as practical, not luxurious, so I'm OK as long as the neighborhood doesn't go to the other extreme and deteriorate to slum quality where people drift into boarded-up houses.
 
  #30  
Old 01-23-15, 02:27 PM
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Michael, I've forgotten. Did you already give them written 30-day notice? And gave it to them in person so they can't claim they never saw it? And wrote down the fact that you did this? Then if they are there past that date, I would repeat all the above, adding to your note that eviction procedings will follow that date. Again, keep a copy and make a note in your record. Now, right now, call Small Claims to find out how to file, and make an appointment to do your filing the day after your deadline (you can always cancel at the last minute - but find out if there's a penalty for that). Be ready to move on this. Do not let the grass grow under your feet. If these folks have successfully stonewalled you once, don't let them repeat. Any delay will look like you don't mean what you say.

As far as I recall, I didn't need further communication with the tenants - the court notified them of my filing and the date of our hearing, which was maybe a week or ten days after filing. If they hadn't showed up for the hearing, the court would have made further contact and probably has a procedure to fit that circumstance. Hopefully, the written threat of legal action will persuade them. But if it doesn't, read #5 again - I don't want to type it again on this tablet.

It's a nuisance to have to skip work to do this stuff - but it's a learning curve you're on. When I eventually started using a rental agent I learned that he found me much better tenants - well worth his fee (fee: one month's rent).

The main thing is, get your ducks in a row and move quickly, whether you do Small Claims Court or a lawyer. Don't argue with these scofflaws, just set a date - and mean it this time. If your follow-through is inadequate then your chances of succeeding on subseqent attempts will be a good deal less.
 
  #31  
Old 01-23-15, 07:14 PM
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My wording was confusing; I didn't mean your eviction threat is to be based on the previous date you had set for them to vacate the premises. I meant: you have a new date specified for them to be gone, and their failure to comply will be followed by eviction procedings. (And since you will have already found out what you need to know beforehand, you will whiz into action when they're there one day too long to get legal action started....)
 
  #32  
Old 01-26-15, 12:25 PM
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Michael, you can debate your heart out on this site, but it means very little. You want the tenant gone - hire an attorney. You want a better way to handle it in the future - hire an attorney. Just get one that specializes in these problems.
 
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