New tenant has demands after moving in -- Pls. help!

My new tenant did a detailed form pointing out move-in the state of the property. There is a patch on the ceiling that looks like prior water damage but had no moisture even when we bought the property (inspector said no moisture present and no need to do a mold test if there is no evidence of moisture). Tenant claims the patch is mold and wants me to to do a mold test to prove it is non-toxic. Do I have to do this? Also wants me to clean the fireplace flue and perform a carbon test. Says both of these items need to be done or they may seek legal action. What??? How would you recommend I proceed.

Unfortunately, you’ve gotten a FREAK for a tenant! No matter how well you screen the tenants, one of these nutjobs will slither through the cracks occassionally. I had one just a few months ago.

How long of a lease do you have with this NUT? If the answer is a month-to-month lease, give him a 30 day notice (or whatever is required in your state) TODAY! If the tenant has a longer lease, tell him that you know he isn’t happy with the property and suggest that he move out. Tell him you’ll let him out of the lease, which might be what he wants.

My policy is that all low income tenants only get month-to-month leases. Better tenants in my nice single family houses get a 1 year lease. FREAKS get the boot as quickly as possible.

Good Luck,


I agree with Mike. Get rid of this Nutcase immediatley.

Another thing I do, if this guy is on a lease, I consider every one of these situations a learning experience, and write something into the lease, so you’re covered the next time around for this situation.

Even after you satisfy him on these two issues, there’ll be an “issue of the month”, plus constant complaints. It’s cheaper, and better for your mental health, to get another “nornal tenant”.

So far, I’ve been good in screening out these cases. I engage applcants in conversations to ascertain how “easy going” they are.

My wife did some interviewing way back, and once agreed to take a deposit, and asked me to go by pick it up I went by, chatted with this guy, and he agreed with everything I said 'with a forced smile on his face". So I decided to provoke him, asking him if he’s the type that “hold wild parties”. His face turned to that of a “wild man”, then realizing it, put back that phony smile.

So I told him that I’m just picking up the money as a favor as he’s going on vacation, but the decision is not final, and I would return the money if we decided against it. After I got home, my wife called back to say we’re returning his deposit.

He answer was he’ll come by and “kick our @ss”.

My wife seemed surprised saying he seems like such a nice young man. I told her I was watching his facial expression, body language, and he’s definitely a nutcase.

After this, I took over doing interviewing. I watch the body language, facial expressions, how they fill out the application as part of the process.

Frank Chin

 I agree with Mike and Frank, if this tenant doesn't calm down after you obviously make a good faith effort to investigate the grievances, then they're just crazy and you need to find a way to ignore their complaints or tell them that this isn't working out.
 I had a tenant like this....she complained of everything.  In the first 2-3 months she had probably 15 repair requests including "ants in the kitchen" and a "poping sound inside the wall."  Some of her complaints were legitimate, and I was concerned about the electrical safety so I had an electrician come out to investigate the poping sound in the wall.  He stood there and explained to her that there was no earthly way this was and electrical problem.  It cost $40.  She has been a model tenant ever since.  Rent on time (usually early), and she takes care of the place.
 The threat of legal action sounds like BS.  I've never even heard of "doing a carbon test."  You might get up on the roof with a flashlight and look down the chimney.  If the tenant is right about the flue needing to be cleaned, it presents a fire hazard and could be a legal liability.
 Above is a website about indoor air quality and mold.  Molds are usually not a problem indoors, unless mold spores land on a wet or a damp spot and begin growing.  If the patch on the ceiling is dark black (like the stuff that might grow in your shower), you should at least clean it and paint it, maybe replace the drywall.  If the patch on the ceiling is just a dark area where there used to be a roof leak, you said it is fixed now, then the tenants suspicion of mold is wrong.  Mold is usually the tenant's fault for keeping indoor humidity too high.  Mold can usually be prevented keeping things clean and regularly increasing ventilation by opening windows.
 There is another happy possibility.  There is an attorney in SoCAL who is such a demon spewing from the bowels of hell, that he teaches tenants basically how to live for free.  Tenants come to him with their sob stories and he shows them how to live in the unit without paying rent for the entire eviction process (which is 3 months long in the state of CA).  They can take advantage of another law called constructive eviction.  If the tenant can convince a judge that there is enough of a problem that the place is uninhabitable, then the tenant can live in the unit without paying rent until the problem is fixed.
 I've heard of landlords just screaming on the phone "IF I WANTED TO GET PHONE CALLS LIKE THESE, I WOULD CHARGE MORE FOR RENT" CLICK.  The opposite approach turns you into an indentured servant just because you want to own a rental.  My approach is to show genuine concern and gratitude toward all of my tenants, even if I hate their guts.

Carbon test??..Never heard of that one…lol

I have a clause in my lease indicating that tenants will write out all damage noticed in the unit before they move in…This way, if there’s any questions later, and the issue wasn’t written down by them, it must be their damage…

But call a chimney cleaner…For $50-$100 you can get it cleaned…If you have a fire caused by a fire in the fireplace due to soot buildup guess who’s liability it is???..And guess who would be eager to sue you???

Thanks everybody for your response and advice. I talked with the tenant (who really seemed like a good potential tenant when interviewed). I offered to let them out of the lease. Tenant said no way, they absolutely love the place. Said their intent was only to let me know what the move-in condition of the property was. They were shocked at how upset I was at receiving a letter (with the move-in condition report) indicating possible legal action if repair items were not taken care of.

Tenant said problem was that they used a template borrowed from a relative (who has rental properties) and it had the the formal language about pursuing legal action per terms of the lease. Said they just need one item fixed (actually I think there are 3-4 small things I was planning on doing but they said they have/would take care of a couple of them). Said I could tear up that letter for all they care. I am thinking of taking them for their word (since they seem like an OK family). What do y’all think?

I would repair the item(s) in question and then have them sign a release stating that they are satisfied.