Tennant Rights -- very unhappy with outside maintenance noise

To make a long story shorter, our tenant needed to break the lease due to a job loss and was planning to move out three weeks ago, so we schedule outside maintenance on the house for after their move date. A week before they were supposed to move out, they asked to stay two more weeks. This wasn’t a problem for us due to our schedule, so we said they could stay as long as they accommodated the contractor (replace four windows and exterior paint). They agreed. The contractor started this week as scheduled, and we have had no end of complaints from the tenant regarding the noise – complaints multiple times a day. He is replacing some trim, so he is using a hammer. He does not have a radio on or making any noise other than what you would expect from construction. Now that tenant is quoting their rights regarding the property not being liveable, etc. In the mean time, the tenant has not paid the rent for this month, so that payment is nearly a month late, which we have discussed with them probably much too politely. It was late before the construction even started.

Wow, I’m shocked. The reaction we have gotten is unbelievable especially considering that we have been extremely accommodating of them. You might think the tenant is just trying to get out of paying the rent for this month, but without going into a very long explanation, I don’t think this is the case.

This situation brings up a few questions. First, does the tenant have the right to refuse or limit the work we can do on the inside or outside of the house while they are living there? Is there a difference when it comes to interior versus exterior work? Does it matter whether they have broken the contract? Our lease states we will give them 24 hours notice before entering the property, and includes the typical maintenance responsibilities clauses.

Do tennants generally punish you for anything good you try to do for them?

count me as one of those that thinks the tenant is just trying to get out of paying this months rent

I agree w/ Andy and also hope you have a deposit you can keep from them to make up for it. Some tenants just suck no matter what you do. If it was such an inconvenience to them, the should’ve gotten the hell out of there. What you’re having done is nothing too extreme where the tenants can’t accommodate. They’re just being butt heads…

Especially at the end of a lease be careful and very strict about rent payments late fees etc. Start eviction process immediately. Especially during the last month give them a 3 day letter on the 5th day, and file on the eighth day. Even if they have moved out file for the eviction and get it on their record.

Of course they’re trying not to pay. Why? They’ve given you notice and already ‘moved’ in their minds; they’re having financial problems; they feel under the gun from various angles including… having to find a new, cheaper place to live; cough up money for a new deposit; being late on the current rent; and now, just to top things off, the landlord decides to remodel their house while they’re still in it, instead of waiting till they move. They feel put upon to say the least. Of course, it’s not you. It’s their situation …and you’re the target of their grief since everything they don’t like that’s going on revolves around contact with you.

That said, I’ve done the exact thing you’re doing, with the exact type of tenant who says they’re moving, can’t pay, and now consider anything I say, or do, an inconvenience and a potential excuse for screwing me.

And to your last question… “Do tenants generally punish you for anything good you try to do for them?” Not really, it’s just they don’t respect what you offer. They’re consumers. They consume. They consume your good will; consume your good nature; and consume your time. They don’t really look further than the end of their nose about the consequences of how they act, or think, etc. And especially not thinking about the reference they’ll be needing from you down the road. And, without being overly judgmental, that’s why they’re renters in the first place.

So, you’re dealing with a consumer whose life, in real ways feels like it’s falling down around them.

Frankly, I would stop the work on the house, and stop forcing the vacating customers to put up with your effort to save a buck by doing major repairs at the expense of their enjoyment of the house, despite them not paying rent on time.

Frankly, also, not getting the rent on time is your failure, not the tenant’s. They should have received a notice to pay rent or quit as early as the law allows, regardless of their story and you might already be waiting for the Marshall to put your former client’s crap on the street right about now.

But…you’ve apparently not only allowed yourself to get emotionally involved in their story, but are now paying for it. Naughty, naughty. Bad landlord. :banghead

Okay, is that enough lack of sympathy for today? :biggrin

Next time, keep things professional, and get the rent the day it’s due, and forget the stories and excuses.

The primary reason I don’t think the latest drama is purely their attempt to get out of payment is because they already have a long list of excuses for that.

Yes, this has been another learning experience, and fully agree that the tenants still being in the house is our fault.

The reason I asked about the amount of maintenance to subject the tenant to is because I haven’t seen much information on it. Doing an Internet search brings up a lot of stuff regarding the maintenance the landlord is required to do, not a limit on what is allowed. I assumed exterior painting would not be an issue. What is reasonable to subject the tenant to?

Somehow I missed the part about the understanding you had with the tenant about the construction. That’s what happens when I try to write reports and make posts at the same time.

Please forget everything I said about possibly taking advantage of them ‘moving anyway.’ Of course that wasn’t the case, apart from me doing that very thing myself. My bad.

Your tenant needs to go suck eggs. He hasn’t paid rent. He blasted through the move-out date. He agreed to accommodate the contractor …as a condition to remain there …and has the gall to complain…?

Back to your question about what tenants (who are not in default and not moving will tolerate), well, it goes against the grain to think that tenants won’t/don’t appreciate the work we do to their house.

We think they’ll appreciate it, but they don’t, as you’ve discovered, sort of with these dead-beat wanna-bees. Nonetheless, tenants will have any number of responses to upgrades and repairs. It probably depends on the ‘framing’ of the issue. If you’ve been having fights with the tenant, he will be suspicious and annoyed by anything you do with the house, despite your best intentions.

Probably the most common thing to go through a tenant’s mind, if we start wanting to do even minor work, is that we might be getting ready to either sell the house, or jack up the rent. Either way he’s screwed.

Meantime, doing maintenance is one thing. Doing remodeling is quite another. If you’re remodeling, this will be a sure sign that you’re either about to sell the house, give them a notice to vacate, or jack up their rents. Again, either way, they think they’re screwed.

I have never really found that doing anything more than just making the house clean and functional gets me more rent, or better renters. Clean and functional works.

Great post.

I like this comment. I am going to steal it and use it all over the place because it applies to a lot of people.

This is Mrs. Gilberttribe. I take full responsibility for falling for their sob story and believing their promises. I hate learning lessons that make me hard-hearted, but they make me smarter, too. We have put a few new policies in place thanks to these tenants that will make our business more successful going forward. Javipa, we appreciate your feedback and advice. You seem like a wise and experienced landlord, and we appreciate you taking the time to help us out.

This is the nice thing about rentals. You can get him out and a new tenant in and start over. Your mistakes are forgotten and you can do better the next time.

Honestly, I think you are giving the tenant too much credit…I think it’s pretty obvious that they are just using the work as an excuse to not pay rent and perhaps to prolong their ability to stay in the house (i.e. give themselves something to use as an argument against you when you end up in court, which they likely know is going to happen because they probably have no plans on leaving without being forced out, due to their financial situation). Save yourself the time and headache and contact a lawyer and start a legal proceeding to get them out (based on what you described, I think it’s likely that you are going to end up in court eventually no matter what, so you might as well get it started right away). As for the tenants rights regarding work you want done on the house, I’m not sure about what exactly their rights are, but if they agreed to allow you to have the work done, I think they’ve forgone any rights they might’ve had to restrict the work in any way. Call a lawyer and get the court process started right away.


And to more than one of my friends unfortunately. I just look at them and run my face right into my palm full force.