Tenant turned off all utilities advice please!!

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turkey1234
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Tenant turned off all utilities advice please!!

Post by turkey1234 » Mon Jul 15, 2019 8:32 am

My brother needs advice. He rented his prior house out to a woman for a 1 year lease. He used to live in the house and it was totally remodeled and nice. The woman moved in and complained about everything and he always fixed everything. He even had the house professionally cleaned THREE times after she moved in because she complained it wasn't cleaned enough. She always paid on time.

Her lease ended at the end of this July. She texted him and asked to move out early and break the lease in June because she bought a house. My brother texted her that he would split the month of July with her and she said OK. She moved out this weekend and she left the house absolutely filthy. The oven and everything was disgusting. Nothing was damaged but the closet and shower doors were even off. The grass was a foot high and she never trimmed the bushes or anything. She commented that since she moved in and the house was dirty that she was leaving it 10x dirtier. She never paid half of July's rent and to top if off she called all the utility companies and had all the utilities shut off completely. My brother figured that she would pay half of July's utilities too not shut them off. He still has her full $1200 security deposit. Can he take out for the fees to turn on all the utilities? Should he keep the full security deposit? He has never had any issues with tenants.

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Re: Tenant turned off all utilities advice please!!

Post by Whakamole » Mon Jul 15, 2019 8:36 am

He should probably consult a local landlord/tenant attorney to discuss his options.

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Re: Tenant turned off all utilities advice please!!

Post by ohai » Mon Jul 15, 2019 8:37 am

Isn't the security deposit created for exactly situations like this?

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Re: Tenant turned off all utilities advice please!!

Post by livesoft » Mon Jul 15, 2019 8:52 am

If it was my brother, I would tell him, "I've never been a landlord in your shoes, so I cannot give you any advice."
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Re: Tenant turned off all utilities advice please!!

Post by dm200 » Mon Jul 15, 2019 8:56 am

ohai wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 8:37 am
Isn't the security deposit created for exactly situations like this?
When I was a tenant, that is what I believed. I suggest that any and all such issues be very detailed as to the "cost" of each item. Start with the biggest issue and work down to the smaller ones. Try to leave out any "gray" areas - such as the lawn not being cut.

Was actual harm done by the utilities being turned off?
Last edited by dm200 on Mon Jul 15, 2019 8:59 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Tenant turned off all utilities advice please!!

Post by randomguy » Mon Jul 15, 2019 8:57 am

ohai wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 8:37 am
Isn't the security deposit created for exactly situations like this?
What a security deposit can be used for is specified by law that varies by reason. I expect cleaning is likely a use. Not as sure about the utility issue.

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Re: Tenant turned off all utilities advice please!!

Post by wilked » Mon Jul 15, 2019 8:59 am

As a landlord you need to utilize attorneys for these very things.

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Re: Tenant turned off all utilities advice please!!

Post by Smoke » Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:03 am

I would take pictures and document everything, including all bills and cleaning fees.
Keep the deposit and wait for litigation in small claims court by the ex tenant.
Have all your ducks in a row, just in case.
Arguing for the sake of arguing is something I am not going to engage in.

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Re: Tenant turned off all utilities advice please!!

Post by Jags4186 » Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:04 am

I would bring it back up to prior condition, detailing the costs and subtracting form the security deposit. If there is money left over you’d likely need to return it. Then you can sue in small claims court for the half month rent and if damage exceeded the security deposit for additional fees. Take pictures of everything before touching anything.

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Re: Tenant turned off all utilities advice please!!

Post by WhyNotUs » Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:13 am

The rule of the state in which the property resides tenant law will determine this, see them online.
+1 for photos and detailed receipts for any work performed
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Re: Tenant turned off all utilities advice please!!

Post by Sandtrap » Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:15 am

turkey1234 wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 8:32 am
My brother needs advice. He rented his prior house out to a woman for a 1 year lease. He used to live in the house and it was totally remodeled and nice. The woman moved in and complained about everything and he always fixed everything. He even had the house professionally cleaned THREE times after she moved in because she complained it wasn't cleaned enough. She always paid on time.

Her lease ended at the end of this July. She texted him and asked to move out early and break the lease in June because she bought a house. My brother texted her that he would split the month of July with her and she said OK. She moved out this weekend and she left the house absolutely filthy. The oven and everything was disgusting. Nothing was damaged but the closet and shower doors were even off. The grass was a foot high and she never trimmed the bushes or anything. She commented that since she moved in and the house was dirty that she was leaving it 10x dirtier. She never paid half of July's rent and to top if off she called all the utility companies and had all the utilities shut off completely. My brother figured that she would pay half of July's utilities too not shut them off. He still has her full $1200 security deposit. Can he take out for the fees to turn on all the utilities? Should he keep the full security deposit? He has never had any issues with tenants.
Actions:
1
Be glad that the tenant is gone and the lease ended when it needed to end.
2
Be glad that the damages are all cosmetic as you say, nothing was damaged.
3
Be glad that the tenant did indeed pay rent for most of the full term and did not require an eviction.
4
Depending on the landlord-tenant code and local laws and practices, your brother can deduct the cost of restoring the unit. He should have all receipts and accounting of work done and materials used. Document everything. Photo's etc. Hopefully, he had a mutually signed "inventory check in sheet" and a "inventory check out sheet" (if tenant not present for this, note it). Some states diferentiate between "non refundable" "cleaning fee" and "security deposit". It varies.
5
Your brother can also deduct any back rent that is due, amortized to the day of move out. Again, document this.
6
Your brother cannot arbitrarily keep the entire security deposit unless the documented deductions #4 and #5 meet or exceed that amount.
7
As for the charge to turn the utilities back on. I would not go there. It is a gray area that is not worth pursuing. If the tenant were to go to small claims court for those charges, she can simply claim that she thought that shutting off the utillites to "end her account/bill" was normal practice, etc etc etc. (not legal counsel) But, in my experience, gray area deductions are not worth pursuing.
8
Your brother needs to send to the tenant in both email and hard copy, the schedule of deductions from her security deposit and any balance due her, ASAP. When in doubt, err on the tenant's behalf.
9
see #1-3 and move on.
10
It is better to spend effort on restoring and rerenting the unit as soon as possible. One month's loss rent earned back by quick turnover is well worth the effort vs chasing the past. Focus on vacancy rate, not so much on recovering losses because the odds of the later are not favorable.

*Universal Disclaimer: There are a lot of ways to approach this and these are some of them.
Everyone does things differently with varioius opinions, and what works in some areas does not apply to others.
(not legal advice)

j
Last edited by Sandtrap on Mon Jul 15, 2019 2:55 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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David Jay
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Re: Tenant turned off all utilities advice please!!

Post by David Jay » Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:19 am

Take Sandtrap’s advice (above). He had extensive rental holdings for many years.
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Re: Tenant turned off all utilities advice please!!

Post by Sandtrap » Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:26 am

ohai wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 8:37 am
Isn't the security deposit created for exactly situations like this?
Not necessarily.
In some states, there is a differentiation between "security deposit" and "cleaning fee (usually non refundable)". According to local landlord-tenant code and laws and general practices, there can be only certain types of deductions from the security deposit. Even the amount of Security Deposit allowed to be charged can change. In some states, the maximum is equiv. to 1 month's rent. In other's, different.

Often, in court, the burden of knowing all of these things is on the landlord/owner. Tenant's can get away with "I didn't know any better". Landlord's cannot and sometimes will be chastised by the judge for it.

The rental/property management business is a "business", and it's the responsiblity of the owner/landlord to know everything about it.

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Re: Tenant turned off all utilities advice please!!

Post by Sandtrap » Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:31 am

David Jay wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:19 am
Take Sandtrap’s advice (above). He had extensive rental holdings for many years.
Thanks "davidjay".
My son's grew up cleaning up abandoned rental units with DW. Imagine, rubber boots, gloves, and odor masks. :shock: :shock:
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Re: Tenant turned off all utilities advice please!!

Post by Sandtrap » Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:33 am

randomguy wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 8:57 am
ohai wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 8:37 am
Isn't the security deposit created for exactly situations like this?
What a security deposit can be used for is specified by law that varies by reason. I expect cleaning is likely a use. Not as sure about the utility issue.
+1
Exactly.
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dm200
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Re: Tenant turned off all utilities advice please!!

Post by dm200 » Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:37 am

One real "horror story" I heard about a few years ago was a rental to a family that came from a country that did not have winter weather. The rental home was in an area where it got very cold in the winter. The home had radiators for heating. In the middle of winter, the family left for a few weeks and turned off the heat completely. The pipes froze and burst (including the radiators and pipes and the house was completely wet and waterlogged. Huge amount of water damage to the house as well as the radiators and heating pipes needed to be replaced!

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Re: Tenant turned off all utilities advice please!!

Post by ResearchMed » Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:38 am

WhyNotUs wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:13 am
The rule of the state in which the property resides tenant law will determine this, see them online.
+1 for photos and detailed receipts for any work performed
This is key - the local jurisdiction landlord/tenant regs/laws.

And YES for PHOTOS (detailed) plus receipts for the cleaning or any other work.

Ditto for turning back on the utilities, including documentation if possible about turning them off.
In some cases, there could be damage. For example, in very cold weather, turning off heat entirely... pipes freeze.. etc...
Point is, just document it ALL.

And very likely, yes, this is exactly what the security deposit is for (but double check), at least for any damage/repair/etc.
Whether the missed half month's rent can be included, that depends upon local regs.
In some cases, that might need to be covered by "first, last, AND security deposit", etc. That is, the missed rent may or may not be able to come out of the security deposit, but could be covered by the original payment of the 'last" month's rent.

Good luck!

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Re: Tenant turned off all utilities advice please!!

Post by rascott » Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:40 am

Take pictures.

Document all the costs to return the property to roughly the condition it was in prior to her moving in.

Prepare a detailed breakdown of those costs (with invoices) and deduct those amounts from security deposit. Unpaid utilities for the lease period can be included. But if she turned them off, then guessing there is no bill there.

Send all this itemized to tenant, with any remaining security deposit, by the date required by your state. (In my state it is 45 days). If costs are excess of security deposit, send that detail as well, with a bill. Tell her she will be sued if she doesn't pay it.

Not a big deal, standard landlording stuff here.
Last edited by rascott on Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:42 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Tenant turned off all utilities advice please!!

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:41 am

This is very clear.

If your brother can't even figure this out, he has no business being a landlord. He should clean up the house, put it on the market and sell it. If he doesn't, I predict it will be a huge money drain on him.

.....had the house cleaned 3 times because the tenant complained....that's gold right there.
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Re: Tenant turned off all utilities advice please!!

Post by willthrill81 » Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:41 am

It's situations like this that make me glad that I'm not a landlord.
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Re: Tenant turned off all utilities advice please!!

Post by Smoke » Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:42 am

After the mess is cleaned up and the rental is restored, take pictures of everything before the new tenant moves in.
And take pictures every time before a new tenant moves in, with dates/timestamp etc.
Arguing for the sake of arguing is something I am not going to engage in.

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Re: Tenant turned off all utilities advice please!!

Post by dm200 » Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:45 am

Smoke wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:42 am
After the mess is cleaned up and the rental is restored, take pictures of everything before the new tenant moves in.
And take pictures every time before a new tenant moves in, with dates/timestamp etc.
Good ideas.

This sounds like a "tenant from hell."

Just wondering if there might have been some kind of lack of due diligence in checking out this tenant as well. ???

My guess is that successful and experienced landlords have techniques to screen such tenants and avoid renting to them.

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Re: Tenant turned off all utilities advice please!!

Post by Chicago60 » Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:46 am

Whakamole wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 8:36 am
He should probably consult a local landlord/tenant attorney to discuss his options.
This is the correct answer. What his rights are will depend on the terms of the written lease, state law, and any applicable municipal law for landlord-tenants.

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Re: Tenant turned off all utilities advice please!!

Post by ohai » Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:48 am

willthrill81 wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:41 am
It's situations like this that make me glad that I'm not a landlord.
Yeah, it's basically a job, not the same as buying funds or true passive investments.

My previous boss owned some cheap buy high yielding rental building in California. He was asking if anyone wants to go accompany him to collect some rent, in case it got weird.

Some relatives walked into one of their rentals (after knocking and everything) to do some maintenance. Turns out the tenant was in the middle of, let's say private activities. [OT comment removed by moderator prudent] I actually sympathize with the tenant on this one.

Some other relatives owned a condo in a nice area. Anyway, turns out it was being rented by some politician as a honey spot. They didn't actually lose money or have any true difficulty, but I thought it was interesting to mention.

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Re: Tenant turned off all utilities advice please!!

Post by fire5soon » Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:48 am

Back when I was a landlord (so happy to have sold it and am out of that business) I once had a tenant tell me the unit smelled fine, but when he put his nose right up against the carpet in certain areas of the living room that the carpet smelled, so he wanted it to be professionally cleaned. When I asked why he was putting his nose into the living room carpet he told me that's where he did yoga and some of the poses he did caused his face to go into the floor :oops:

Whether your brother can use the security deposit for this kind of thing is entirely dependent on your local (state/county/municipal) laws. He either needs to contact an attorney, read up on those laws, or return the deposit and move on with life.
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Re: Tenant turned off all utilities advice please!!

Post by Carefreeap » Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:51 am

Sandtrap wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:15 am
turkey1234 wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 8:32 am
My brother needs advice. He rented his prior house out to a woman for a 1 year lease. He used to live in the house and it was totally remodeled and nice. The woman moved in and complained about everything and he always fixed everything. He even had the house professionally cleaned THREE times after she moved in because she complained it wasn't cleaned enough. She always paid on time.

Her lease ended at the end of this July. She texted him and asked to move out early and break the lease in June because she bought a house. My brother texted her that he would split the month of July with her and she said OK. She moved out this weekend and she left the house absolutely filthy. The oven and everything was disgusting. Nothing was damaged but the closet and shower doors were even off. The grass was a foot high and she never trimmed the bushes or anything. She commented that since she moved in and the house was dirty that she was leaving it 10x dirtier. She never paid half of July's rent and to top if off she called all the utility companies and had all the utilities shut off completely. My brother figured that she would pay half of July's utilities too not shut them off. He still has her full $1200 security deposit. Can he take out for the fees to turn on all the utilities? Should he keep the full security deposit? He has never had any issues with tenants.
Actions:
1
Be glad that the tenant is gone and the lease ended when it needed to end.
2
Be glad that the damages are all cosmetic as you say, nothing was damaged.
3
Be glad that the tenant did indeed pay rent for most of the full term and did not require an eviction.
4
Depending on the landlord-tenant code and local laws and practices, your brother can deduct the cost of restoring the unit. He should have all receipts and accounting of work done and materials used. Document everything. Photo's etc. Hopefully, he had a mutually signed "inventory check in sheet" and a "inventory check out sheet" (if tenant not present for this, note it). Some states diferentiate between "non refundable" "cleaning fee" and "security deposit". It varies.
5
Your brother can also deduct any back rent that is due, amortized to the day of move out. Again, document this.
6
Your brother cannot arbitrarily keep the entire security deposit unless the documented deductions #4 and #5 meet or exceed that amount.
7
As for the charge to turn the utilities back on. I would not go there. It is a gray area that is not worth pursuing. If the tenant were to go to small claims court for those charges, she can simply claim that she thought that shutting off the utillites to "end her account/bill" was normal practice, etc etc etc. (not legal counsel) But, in my experience, gray area deductions are not worth pursuing.
8
Your brother needs to send to the tenant in both email and hard copy, the schedule of deductions from her security deposit and any balance due her, ASAP. When in doubt, err on the tenant's behalf.
9
see #1-3 and move on.
10
It is better to spend effort on restoring and rerenting the unit as soon as possible. One month's loss rent earned back by quick turnover is well worth the effort vs chasing the past. Focus on vacancy rate, not so much on recovering losses because the odds of the later are not favorable.

*Universal Disclaimer: There are a lot of ways to approach this and these are some of them.
Everyone does things differently with varioius opinions, and what works in some areas does not apply to others.
(not legal advice)

j
+1

The really hard part for your brother is stepping back and remaining professional. He has every right to feel angry and betrayed but he can't take it out on the tenant. As Sandtrap points out in a later post if the situation goes to court the judge is mostly likely going to rule in favor of the tenant as the landlord will be assumed "more knowledgeable".

FWIW I've had some tenants behave pretty badly and surprisingly in units that were considered higher end. And it's not just "kids". Entitlement mentality spans many age groups.

Sometimes you just have to suck up the gray stuff as the cost of doing business.

Good luck to your brother.

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Re: Tenant turned off all utilities advice please!!

Post by dm200 » Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:52 am

Keep in mind that if you calculate that the damages/costs exceed the security deposit, even in small claims court, you effort and expense (even if you 'win') may be more than what you can actually get.

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Re: Tenant turned off all utilities advice please!!

Post by barnaclebob » Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:59 am

Jack FFR1846 wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:41 am
This is very clear.

If your brother can't even figure this out, he has no business being a landlord. He should clean up the house, put it on the market and sell it. If he doesn't, I predict it will be a huge money drain on him.

.....had the house cleaned 3 times because the tenant complained....that's gold right there.
That was my thinking. I'd have been telling the tenant to find somewhere else to live after when she requested another cleaning. Huge red flag. Its a rental house not an airbnb where you need 5 star ratings.
dm200 wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:45 am
This sounds like a "tenant from hell."
Not even close, they paid their rent and just left the place really dirty but otherwise undamaged.
Last edited by barnaclebob on Mon Jul 15, 2019 10:03 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Tenant turned off all utilities advice please!!

Post by FI4LIFE » Mon Jul 15, 2019 10:00 am

I will not try to add anything since sandtrap covered it well but this sounds like a big nothing-burger. Far from a nightmare tenant. They mostly paid and left the place dirty and minor damage. Routine landlord stuff.

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Re: Tenant turned off all utilities advice please!!

Post by Carefreeap » Mon Jul 15, 2019 10:00 am

dm200 wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:45 am
Smoke wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:42 am
After the mess is cleaned up and the rental is restored, take pictures of everything before the new tenant moves in.
And take pictures every time before a new tenant moves in, with dates/timestamp etc.
Good ideas.

This sounds like a "tenant from hell."

Just wondering if there might have been some kind of lack of due diligence in checking out this tenant as well. ???

My guess is that successful and experienced landlords have techniques to screen such tenants and avoid renting to them.
Even going through the best of screening activities you still run into losers/PITA tenants. I put up with a PITA tenant because it was 2009 and the rental market for higher end tenants in the greater Phoenix area was grim and we were out of the country. She had great credit (over 800) but was the most demanding tenant I've run into. I think she had mental health issues which were subsequently exacerbated when she went a little psychotic with some anti-cancer drugs. I've now seen this a few times. Emails were increasingly abusive and when she threatened to leave at the end of her lease I readily agreed that she should go.

Lol, after she moved out she sent me an e-mail how much she missed my house and how she hated the HOA with the new residence. It was all I could do to keep from e-mailing her "Choices, lady, choices!" :oops:

Maybe I'll write a series of short stories on my more memorable tenants. :twisted:

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Re: Tenant turned off all utilities advice please!!

Post by ResearchMed » Mon Jul 15, 2019 10:01 am

ohai wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:48 am
willthrill81 wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:41 am
It's situations like this that make me glad that I'm not a landlord.
Yeah, it's basically a job, not the same as buying funds or true passive investments.

My previous boss owned some cheap buy high yielding rental building in California. He was asking if anyone wants to go accompany him to collect some rent, in case it got weird.

Some relatives walked into one of their rentals (after knocking and everything) to do some maintenance. Turns out the tenant was in the middle of, let's say private activities. Anyway, he lost his sht. I actually sympathize with the tenant on this one.

Some other relatives owned a condo in a nice area. Anyway, turns out it was being rented by some politician as a honey spot. They didn't actually lose money or have any true difficulty, but I thought it was interesting to mention.
Way late, of course, but unless it is a true emergency (water leaking, smoke, etc.) then just "knocking and entering" is probably NOT "...and everything" in terms of giving notice.

If it's routine maintenance- meaning non urgent - then "real notice" needs to be given, and the amount of time/etc., is probably spelled out on the rental agreement. It has been in any state I've had rentals in...

I would have gone way beyond ballistic, regardless of what was "happening".
And if it had been something sensitive, say just getting out of the shower or such, I'd have gone double ballistic.

And yes, this person is not set out for "landlordhood".
Cleaning *3* times? Professionally cleaned!?
Yikes!

RM
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Re: Tenant turned off all utilities advice please!!

Post by Big Dog » Mon Jul 15, 2019 10:10 am

re: cleaning...what did his lease say?

A standard clause in a RE contract is that the tenant has to leave everything 'broom clean'. If so, then yes, he can easily use the deposit to cover the cleaning. If not....

re: lawn care. again, what did the lease say?

re: utilities. She had every right to tell the Util Companies that she was no longer responsible. If they turned off power, that's on them. (Our elec will keep power on in such situations, figuring eventually someone will move in.)

Agree with others, however. This is standard landlord-tenant crap. If he doesn't want to play this game, sell the house.
Last edited by Big Dog on Mon Jul 15, 2019 10:13 am, edited 2 times in total.

ohai
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Re: Tenant turned off all utilities advice please!!

Post by ohai » Mon Jul 15, 2019 10:10 am

They claimed to have notified the tenant generally that they were coming in that time (how clear they communicated this and whether the tenant responded is not clear to me). They also claim to have made a lot of noise and called the client; he did not pick up the phone; I guess he was "busy". I forgot what the issue was, but it was more like maintenance, not emergency.

Anyway, they did not mean any harm and are very nice sort-of-old people, and charge what I think is below market rent. So, I would feel bad to get really mad at people like that. However, as stated, I lean on the side of the tenant here...

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Re: Tenant turned off all utilities advice please!!

Post by dm200 » Mon Jul 15, 2019 10:13 am

Maybe experience and successful landlords could comment - but I wonder if there are way(s) the landlord can detect such problems during the lease?

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Re: Tenant turned off all utilities advice please!!

Post by ResearchMed » Mon Jul 15, 2019 10:17 am

dm200 wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 10:13 am
Maybe experience and successful landlords could comment - but I wonder if there are way(s) the landlord can detect such problems during the lease?
Well, in this case, yes: Demanding multiple cleanings after moving in, for example!
:annoyed

But one would prefer to "detect" this type of tenant before they sign and move in!

RM
This signature is a placebo. You are in the control group.

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dm200
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Re: Tenant turned off all utilities advice please!!

Post by dm200 » Mon Jul 15, 2019 10:28 am

ResearchMed wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 10:17 am
dm200 wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 10:13 am
Maybe experience and successful landlords could comment - but I wonder if there are way(s) the landlord can detect such problems during the lease?
Well, in this case, yes: Demanding multiple cleanings after moving in, for example!
:annoyed
But one would prefer to "detect" this type of tenant before they sign and move in!

RM
Yes!

Back when I was single and rented single family houses (to share with other guys), we were good tenants. One, very good, landlord maintained regular contact - and occasionally stopped by to actually help with some things that we did.

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Re: Tenant turned off all utilities advice please!!

Post by Scrapr » Mon Jul 15, 2019 10:31 am

dm200 wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 10:13 am
Maybe experience and successful landlords could comment - but I wonder if there are way(s) the landlord can detect such problems during the lease?
One way I've heard landlords do this is change the HVAC filters twice a year. That allows access ...with notice of course. Now what you do about a filthy home I have no idea

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dm200
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Re: Tenant turned off all utilities advice please!!

Post by dm200 » Mon Jul 15, 2019 10:35 am

Scrapr wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 10:31 am
dm200 wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 10:13 am
Maybe experience and successful landlords could comment - but I wonder if there are way(s) the landlord can detect such problems during the lease?
One way I've heard landlords do this is change the HVAC filters twice a year. That allows access ...with notice of course. Now what you do about a filthy home I have no idea
Great idea. Probably a few other "maintenance" items the landlord might do as well, with notice of course.

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ResearchMed
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Re: Tenant turned off all utilities advice please!!

Post by ResearchMed » Mon Jul 15, 2019 10:37 am

dm200 wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 10:35 am
Scrapr wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 10:31 am
dm200 wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 10:13 am
Maybe experience and successful landlords could comment - but I wonder if there are way(s) the landlord can detect such problems during the lease?
One way I've heard landlords do this is change the HVAC filters twice a year. That allows access ...with notice of course. Now what you do about a filthy home I have no idea
Great idea. Probably a few other "maintenance" items the landlord might do as well, with notice of course.
Yes, a VERY good idea indeed!

That should probably be written into the lease, with advance notice specified, etc.

RM
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Re: Tenant turned off all utilities advice please!!

Post by 8foot7 » Mon Jul 15, 2019 10:48 am

+1 to extensive photos (think dozens to a hundred). Decide what is cleaning and what is repair (shower door off = repair, shower door dirty = cleaning). Keep receipts of all repairs. Find a deep clean service once you are done with repairs and keep the receipt; I suspect if the house is in that sort of condition that it's reasonable to charge a single deep clean ($300-400) to the tenant, although this is sort of a gray area. You may also err on the aggressive side and get a carpet cleaning if there are many medium- to large-sized stains on the carpet and keep that receipt too.

Do not charge for re-painting or sheetrock repair for small picture hanging/mounting holes. This is not reasonable in most jurisdictions regardless of what your lease says. Do not charge for small carpet stains. Do not charge for small scratches or dings. Huge holes that need wood or big swaths of original material to repair are fair game, though. Absolutely do not charge for utilities; that is not reasonable.

One rule of thumb I like is that if I can fix it with putty and paint in under 30 minutes, or it will come out with a good cleaning, it's not something I should charge for. If I need to call someone to fix it, that tilts toward damage. Again, rules of thumb, not rules of the road.

Chances are you can find enough things needing repair to eat up the security deposit if half of the unpaid July rent is also included. If the tenant takes you to court for withholding the deposit, you'll have receipts and photos to prove what you did, and you can also show what you did not charge for, chalking those items up to reasonable wear and tear. You'll come across as discerning and reasonable.

If the security deposit cannot be used in your area for damages, that doesn't mean the tenant isn't liable to compensate you for damages; use the photos and receipts to build a case for compensation and pursue in court. There's a decent chance tenant will say keep the deposit instead and you'll be all good; if not, you can receive a judgment and at that point decide whether to collect.

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Re: Tenant turned off all utilities advice please!!

Post by michaeljc70 » Mon Jul 15, 2019 11:07 am

wilked wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 8:59 am
As a landlord you need to utilize attorneys for these very things.
How much of the $1200 in question is going to go to the attorney?

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Re: Tenant turned off all utilities advice please!!

Post by KyleAAA » Mon Jul 15, 2019 11:14 am

If you’re going to be a landlord you need to develop a relationship with a good RE attorney in your area. You don’t need them on retainer or anything but you should have somebody to ask questions like this. In most cases it will be a quick consultation at moderate cost. You should also buy and read the NOLO landlord legal guide. Things like this only become a nuisance if you don’t know how to handle it. The large majority of “tenant from hell” scenarios are only hellish because the landlord wasn’t educated on how to nip problems in the bud before they escalated.

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Re: Tenant turned off all utilities advice please!!

Post by KyleAAA » Mon Jul 15, 2019 11:15 am

michaeljc70 wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 11:07 am
wilked wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 8:59 am
As a landlord you need to utilize attorneys for these very things.
How much of the $1200 in question is going to go to the attorney?
Maybe $150 at most, potentially much less. And next time something like this happens, you won’t need to consult an attorney at all.

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Re: Tenant turned off all utilities advice please!!

Post by ohai » Mon Jul 15, 2019 11:15 am

On the other side, the client would also have to hire an attorney to fight you on a lot of these things. So, if it's a matter of $500 to $1000 for cleaning and you have their deposit, most likely, you can just do as you please...

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Re: Tenant turned off all utilities advice please!!

Post by Turbo29 » Mon Jul 15, 2019 11:20 am

Everyone who wants to be a landlord should watch the movie Pacific Heights.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pacific_Heights_(film)

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Re: Tenant turned off all utilities advice please!!

Post by 8foot7 » Mon Jul 15, 2019 11:22 am

ohai wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 11:15 am
On the other side, the client would also have to hire an attorney to fight you on a lot of these things. So, if it's a matter of $500 to $1000 for cleaning and you have their deposit, most likely, you can just do as you please...
Sort of. Many jurisdictions apply treble damages to landlord-tenant issues where the landlord screws up, plus the landlord pays court costs of tenant. If a lawyer spots an easy case here it can really cost the LL $$ at really no expense to the tenant.

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Re: Tenant turned off all utilities advice please!!

Post by friar1610 » Mon Jul 15, 2019 11:26 am

I have no thoughts/advice on this specific issue. But I do think it's a great thread to which to refer posters who ask about whether owning rental real estate is a good alternative to index funds.
Friar1610

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Re: Tenant turned off all utilities advice please!!

Post by rooms222 » Mon Jul 15, 2019 11:34 am

Also, check out to see if your utility companies have a landlord service or notification. My utility lets a landlord know if there is a pending disconnection, a standing order to switch back to landlord with notification, and records that it is a tenant in the building, so service will not be denied to the landlord or new tenant because of an unpaid bill by a previous tenant. It also lets the landlord know if a prospective tenant cannot get electrical service due to bad credit or outstanding bills, a red flag that might normally be overcome by the potential tenant getting service in someone else's name with you none the wiser.

https://landlord.dteenergy.com/help.html

This is critical, at least in cold areas. A family member did not have this set up, and when the tenants were evicted, the pipes froze and did $50,000 worth of damage to the house.

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Re: Tenant turned off all utilities advice please!!

Post by dm200 » Mon Jul 15, 2019 11:58 am

rooms222 wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 11:34 am
Also, check out to see if your utility companies have a landlord service or notification. My utility lets a landlord know if there is a pending disconnection, a standing order to switch back to landlord with notification, and records that it is a tenant in the building, so service will not be denied to the landlord or new tenant because of an unpaid bill by a previous tenant. It also lets the landlord know if a prospective tenant cannot get electrical service due to bad credit or outstanding bills, a red flag that might normally be overcome by the potential tenant getting service in someone else's name with you none the wiser.

https://landlord.dteenergy.com/help.html

This is critical, at least in cold areas. A family member did not have this set up, and when the tenants were evicted, the pipes froze and did $50,000 worth of damage to the house.
Yes, Indeed! There may be a need to "educate" and "motivate" some tenants.

Regarding lawn and yard maintenance - as a landlord, I might consider an option for the landlord to pay (and charge tenants) for a lawn/yard service that the tenants could "opt out" of if/when they could demonstrate satisfactory performance of them doing it to the landlord.

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Re: Tenant turned off all utilities advice please!!

Post by cherijoh » Mon Jul 15, 2019 12:11 pm

rooms222 wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 11:34 am
Also, check out to see if your utility companies have a landlord service or notification. My utility lets a landlord know if there is a pending disconnection, a standing order to switch back to landlord with notification, and records that it is a tenant in the building, so service will not be denied to the landlord or new tenant because of an unpaid bill by a previous tenant. It also lets the landlord know if a prospective tenant cannot get electrical service due to bad credit or outstanding bills, a red flag that might normally be overcome by the potential tenant getting service in someone else's name with you none the wiser.

https://landlord.dteenergy.com/help.html

This is critical, at least in cold areas. A family member did not have this set up, and when the tenants were evicted, the pipes froze and did $50,000 worth of damage to the house.
Presumably your relative knew that they were going to be eveicted. Did they not think to contect the utility company in advance?

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