Landlady needs advice fast

Hello all - haven’t been here in awhile, but I check in now and then to read the advice of the wise real estate investing sages.

I have a problem that has probably come up for some of you. One of my properties can’t be rented because of the tenants in the condo next door. My prior tenants broke their lease last September and left claiming that they were being harassed.

It seems that an owner is renting/allowing? his son to live at this condo. The man seems to have mental health issues. The police are apparently aware of some of these issues, but nothing has been done. Condo management is aware but says they can’t act (or don’t want to?)

In the meantime, my agent and I are unable to find a tenant who will rent from me. When the property is shown, the person in question does something to create a scene and that ends it. I did not pursue the tenants who left since the last time I went that route it was more hassle than it was worth. It also seemed that they may have had some reasons to be concerned for their safety. An agent handles most of this for me so I have to rely on his information.

The homeowner’s association is in hiding I think. I haven’t been able to get the name of who to contact there. I know, this is highly irregular. This isn’t exactly a high rent complex and they have many issues to address as it is. They are trying to clean things up, but then the economy tanked. Over the past several years I have lost about a year’s worth of rental income. My costs aren’t high so I have been able to absorb that, but now my patience is wearing thin. Any suggestions about what to do? There must be some legal recourse? I don’t want to sell this property until 2013 for tax reasons and I also worry about prospective buyers meeting the “neighbor”. That will affect my ability to sell. The unit itself is in good shape, good location and very reasonable to rent. I live in another state several hours away so this is totally inconvenient :banghead.

First you need find out who runs the HOA. You may need to work on it though. Go knock on all the neighbors doors, pull up the declarations / deed restrictions, etc that are on file with the county, search the internet for their contact info, and send letters to everyone who lives in the complex…literally. Keep at it, until you find out. Then send a certified letter to the HOA with all the witness contact information, and ALL the details of the situation, and a demand the problem gets fixed. And tell them you are on the verge of considering legal action if the problem is not resolved.

The next step, is, hire a lawyer. Sue the HOA and the tenant, or whomever the lawyer recommends. That WILL more than likely solve the issue.

Good luck

You haven’t said what’s the worst thing he did when he created a scene or what was a safety issue. If the police aren’t doing anything, it doesn’t sound like a safety issue, municipal bylaw violation, or there was property damage.

It’s hard enough to get rid of somebody like this who’s your tenant. But, not your tenant? Good luck. If you don’t even own that condo, there’s very little you can do, especially in a lower income complex.

From the condo corp’s viewpoint, if a person has mental health issues, then that’s a disability. Unless he did something illegal, the condo corporation would run the risk of violating the Federal Fair Housing Act which protects people with disabilities. So, they’re not going to do anything, which is exactly what they are doing. That’s their defense to not get involved if they get sued. And guess who pays for their lawyer if they get sued by you? You, and with their special assessments now being levied for the legal defense fund on the whole complex, everyone will hate you for raising their monthly condo fees.

What’s worse is he may hire a pro-bono or contingency lawyer for free that will come after you for discrimination after seeing the claim filed against the condo corporation. You don’t want to do anything that looks discriminatory against his disability.

You need to find another reason like is he intoxicated when he’s doing it outside? Police could charge him with being intoxicated in a public place. Is he playing loud music after 10 or 11pm? That’s a municipal noise by-law. Do you smell pot? Does it look like there’s drug dealing? Whatever he does, you’ve gotta get the police involved so you can go after the condo corp. for him committing an illegal act, not for something he can be protected for under the Fair Housing Act.

Thanks for the tips. I do believe this is an instance of alcohol and substance abuse. I am going to work at getting the HOA info and try my best to address the situation that way. I have owned this condo for a long time and this has become a problem in the last two years. Since I don’t live anywhere near there I really don’t know anyone at the complex. My tenants described a number of incidents that would seem criminal, but they said they were too afraid of him to file with the police. At times I have thought they may have wanted an excuse to break the lease, but he is known to be a problem in that community. I guess I need to be my own sleuth and start building a case. Thanks again.

Have you tried talking to the owner?

If it’s his son, he might be unaware of the situation.

I’d start there, just explaining the problem and maybe he’ll have him move out or have another solution.

Ha, I wouldn’t hold my breath. The son is most likely screwed up because of years of bad parenting. His dad most likely put him there because he couldn’t trust him living at home with him and didn’t know where else to put him. I see bad parenting and wreckless offspring all the time. Unless the police deal with it, it’s pointless.

You might want to consider renting it cheap at first, then just keep bumping up the rent…

People are willing to put up with a lot for the right price…