Podcast 361: Can a Tenant Run a Business In a Rental?

In this week’s episode, Podcast Host, Andrew Schultz, talks about tenants running a business from your rental property. Can a tenant run a business from a property if they are just renting?

Neighbor disputes have been around forever. But, what happens when the dispute is between a neighbor and a tenant. Landlords, find out if you should get involved in the riff-raff or leave it be.

Last, but not least, we’ve got one story of an unwanted property guest that got lost in the property. How do you get lost in a rental? You’ll want to hear this one.

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Show Transcription:

Andrew Schultz: (00:00)
Hey everyone. Welcome back to another episode of the Rent Prep for Landlords podcast. This is episode number 361. And I’m your host, Andrew Schultz. On today’s episode, we’re going to be talking about landlord responsibility in a tenant, a neighbor dispute. Would you rent tenants who want to operate a dog breeding business on-premises? An unwanted guest gets lost in the rental property, but not in the traditional way. We’ll get to all that right after this.

Voice Over: (00:27)
Welcome to the Rent Prep for Landlords podcast. Now your host Andrew Schultz.

Andrew Schultz: (00:32)
Before we jump into today’s episode, don’t forget to check out the Rent Prep for Landlords Facebook group. It’s a great free resource for you to network with housing providers from around the country. And if you have a question or a situation that you’ve never dealt with before with over 12,500 members, chances are someone in the group has been there before and can lend a helping hand if you haven’t checked it out yet, do it today. Over at facebook.com/groups/rentprep. Don’t forget to mention the podcast when answering the questions. So we know how you found us.

Voice Over: (01:05)
Forum quorum, where we scour the internet for ridiculous posts from landlords and tenants.

Andrew Schultz: (01:12)
Should a landlord get involved in a dispute between a tenant and their neighbor? That’s the topic of this week’s forum quorum. Let’s go ahead and take a look at this one. This was brought to us via the Rent Prep for Landlords Facebook group. And let’s go ahead and jump in here. How would you respond in this situation? The next-door neighbor edge the grass by the driveway for my tenant, which no one asked him to do. And my tenant through the leftover clumps of grass, back into the yard to get them off the driveway. The next-door neighbor gets upset and sends me a text message about it. Now the next-door neighbor is actually a really wonderful person who I have a great relationship with, but I feel like this issue is really between him and my tenant. What would you do? Well, chances are, I would probably do nothing if I’m being completely honest here, based on what you’ve told us, this is not a dispute that requires you as the landlord to get involved in it.

Andrew Schultz: (01:59)
Honestly, it’s not even a dispute. It’s some hurt feelings, as it seems right now, and not really a dispute or an argument at all. And it’s also between the tenant and the neighbor and has nothing to do with you as the landlord, the neighbor did something nice as a courtesy, the tenant either didn’t appreciate it or whatever the case and threw the grass back over onto their yard and the neighbor likely won’t ever do this again. You know, the neighbor attempted to do something nice. The tenant kind of spit in their face and chances are nothing will ever happen like this again assuming the tenant is responsible for lawn care, the tenant gets to do their own yard work from here on out. And maybe they’ll learn a lesson on being a little bit more neighborly. I’m not sure why the neighbor on the flip side of the coin, wouldn’t just pick up the grass after going ahead and doing the edging.

Andrew Schultz: (02:41)
If you’re going to do something nice, don’t do it halfway, I guess would be my, my comment there. I don’t understand why the neighbor would, would just start and just not finish for whatever reason. Maybe the neighbor was trying to send a message to the tenant that they didn’t think that their yard was being kept up to their standard, but as their even something that’s reasonable and why should your tenant have to, you know, act to their standard? Why should your tenant have to live to the neighbor’s standard when it comes to the yard? So the other thing I had thought about briefly was if this is an HOA community, this could be the type of situation where if you have a neighbor that doesn’t like the tenant, they could start calling the HOA and trying to get them to find the tenant for, you know, minuscule things such as lawn care, for instance, or any of a number of things.

Andrew Schultz: (03:24)
And this could turn into a little bit more of a headache than just a simple, you know, neighborly dispute as it is right now. But really the bottom line here is the bottom line for me anyway, is that this does not require any intervention on your part. It’s not your job as a landlord to tell people how to be nice to one another. If you really want to stick your nose in it, maybe apologize to the neighbor and explain to the tenant that they were just trying to be nice. Having a good relationship with your neighbors can be super important to you as the landlord, probably a little bit less important to your tenant because they know that they can leave at the end of their lease term and they’ll have a whole new set of neighbors. But this is one of those situations where you really have to kind of pick and choose your battles. And I don’t know, as though in this particular instance, this is the type of battle that I would want to pick

Voice Over: (04:10)
Water cooler wisdom, expert advice from real estate pros.

Andrew Schultz: (04:20)
There are a ton of different businesses out there that you can operate from your home. And there are also a ton of people that are now working from home as a result of pandemic restrictions and changes to office culture and things of that nature. But would you ever rent to someone who wanted to raise and breed dogs on your property? That’s this week’s water cooler wisdom and it comes to us via the Rent Prep for Landlords Facebook group. We’ll take a quick look here, and then we’re going to jump right in. It’s still early on in our pre-screening process, but this young couple has Cohen ownership of a dog business. They would essentially have six to 10 French bully puppies. Well-Fed in the property. What are the pros and cons of choosing a tenant, conducting a business on the premises? So this is an interesting one.

Andrew Schultz: (05:02)
There’s a few different things that we can look at here. I think I want to start by just talking about home-based businesses in general, and then we’ll get kind of into the meat of the issue here. So a home-based business is pretty straightforward for most people. It’s usually something simple like, oh, I am I’m an accountant and I want to do bookkeeping for my home. Or, you know, I’m a hairstylist and I want to cut hair from home or something along those lines, pretty easy businesses to be able to do from a home office location or something like that, where you’re not creating a tremendous amount of, for lack of a better term issues with the property raising dogs that are property is not one of those types of businesses. And I can preface this by saying, I understand a little bit about this business because my family used to raise dogs growing up.

Andrew Schultz: (05:49)
So I have some understanding of how the business operates and the pros and cons of it. So I guess I have a little bit of a unique perspective on something like this when talking about how raising dogs in a property could have an impact on the property itself, the property value, things like that. So, but anyway, getting back to the meat of the issue here, this is a tenant looking to run a home-based business breeding dogs. And you have to determine if you can even have something like that in your property. So many municipalities limit the number of animals that you can have at a residence specifically dogs. I’ve also seen limits on other types of animals as well. It’s a matter of fact, here in the city of Buffalo, we actually have a restriction on the number of cows and I believe on the number of chickens that you can have on a residential plot.

Andrew Schultz: (06:34)
But that’s another story for another day. Anyway, going back to my original point there, you may have to check with the municipality and see if you can even have that many dogs at the property. And everything I’m saying here is of course, assuming that you even wanted to move forward with this. But I think that you’ll have a, a pretty good reason not to, by the end of it. So talking about six to 10 dogs may be a no-go, right? They’re just based on municipal limits once, you know, if it’s even legally possible, then the next thing you’re going to want to start thinking about is, is the property even set up for such a venture? There’s obviously a big difference between trying to do this in a two-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment in an apartment building, or an apartment complex versus doing this on a rural single family property with some Anchorage and a barn and stuff like that.

Andrew Schultz: (07:21)
You get what I’m saying? It’s obviously two very, very different styles of property. And obviously, if the property isn’t appropriate, then it would have to be a no-go now thinking about the operation itself, you’re going to have a large amount of wear and tear doing due to that many animals of any variety. I mean, if you have six to 10 cats, yeah, there’s going to be wear and tear. If you have six to 10 dogs, there’s going to be wear and tear. It’s, it’s a large number of animals to have wandering around in your house. In addition, there’s going to be a substantial odor that comes from raising dogs that has to be taken into account as well as does the storage of food and animal waste and things of that nature. You know, that’s going to bring a certain level of rodents, typically mice and rats into the mix.

Andrew Schultz: (08:05)
There are a lot of cons to doing something like this. Something else is, will this create issues with neighboring properties? You know, that’s something that may need to be considered as well. Otherwise, you might have town and county code enforcement agencies sniffing around the property all the time. Looking for literally any reason to write a citation. You know, at the end of the day, this type of operation may not be best suited to a residential property. When you’re talking about that many dogs, it might be time to start looking for a commercial kennel or something along those lines to be able to operate that type of a business. And I understand where someone is coming from. They want to be able to do this business and keep costs low by doing it at home. But you really have to have a very specific property in a very specific area in order to be able to do something like this, legally in a lot of instances, you know, another consideration to take into account, even outside of the more traditional property concerns would be insurances, what type of insurance do you need to make sure that you’re covered on the property?

Andrew Schultz: (09:06)
And then what type of insurance do the tenants need to make sure that they have the proper coverage for their business? You’re definitely going to want to make sure that you’re listed as an additional insured on their policy, but realistically you definitely need to have a conversation with your insurance carrier and be very forthright on what it is that you’re attempting to do so that you know, that you are insured properly and that the property is insured properly. It would be awful to have something pop up that isn’t covered simply because of a misrepresentation to your carrier as to what’s going on at the property. It’s one of those situations where you definitely want to make sure that the carrier understands fully what’s going on so that you know, that you have the right type of coverage in place to protect yourself in the event that something happens and you get sued along with a tenant.

Andrew Schultz: (09:49)
For instance, if you know, there’s a dog bite on the property, at least here in the state of New York, probably everybody’s going to get sued. So making sure that you have the right coverages is going to be critical to making sure that you have some protection in the event, that there is a lawsuit or something down the road. I know we’re talking about a ton of cons here, and you asked for some pros as well, but honestly, I don’t really see many in this situation other than possibly an on-time rent check, which I think that you can probably find a lot easier with other tenants that don’t come with. So many complications breeding dogs can be a very, very dirty business, both physically and legally take a lot of caution when considering these tenants make sure that you’re following your screening criteria. And when you get to a point where you’ve made a decision move forward with confidence, understand that you’ve looked at everything that you possibly can when it comes to screening the tenants, and make your decision and go forward confidently. But if it was me in this instance, I can’t think of a lot of reasons to say yes to a tenant that wants to run this particular type of business from their home

Voice Over: (10:52)
Beat on the street. Real stories from real property managers.

Andrew Schultz: (11:01)
Just about every landlord I know has wound up with an unwanted guest in one of their rental properties at some point or another. But I would say this one probably takes the cake. This is one of the most unique situations that I’ve seen in a long time. This week speed on the street comes to us via the landlord subreddit. This one is all about how an unwanted guest got lost in a rental property, but not in a traditional way. Let’s go ahead and jump in here. Our tenant left the apartment for a few months and was letting someone crash in the basement, which is not livable is also a common area and is not meant for habitation. This person had hidden themselves away in a cubbyhole closet under the basement stairs and proceeded to get high as a kite while in their dark enclosed cubby, while high as a kite in the cubby, they forgot how they got in and started calling for help, which eventually led to the entire areas, fire rescue, team, ambulance, and police coming on scene to rescue them.

Andrew Schultz: (11:56)
Wow. That is a good one. That’s probably one of the more unique situations that I have seen in the last little while here. I guess the question is now, what do you do from there? And in a circumstance such as this, I think it makes the most sense to first and foremost, contact an attorney for a consultation regardless. So you know that what you’re doing is legal, whatever you’re doing is legal before doing anything else that we talk about here during the course of this the segment definitely speak to an attorney first, ensure that you understand what you were allowed to do and what you are not allowed to do and then create a game plan and go forward from there at a minimum, the locks need to be changed on this unit to prevent anyone else from accessing it. When you change the locks, go ahead and make sure that all of the windows are also locked and that you aren’t leaving any other easy access points for someone to get back in something as simple as leaving a window unlocked or open or something like that.

Andrew Schultz: (12:52)
After changing locks basically means that you shouldn’t even change the lock. Somebody is just going to go through that window and have access to the property again. And I would not put that outside of the realm of possibility here, because obviously this person wasn’t supposed to be in the property to begin with. So if you do that route, if you go ahead and change the locks and make sure all the windows and everything are sealed, you have to leave a note for the tenant to contact you the actual legal tenant to contact you for the new set of keys. And assuming they haven’t been evicted by that time, they know that they can contact you. And then you do have a legal obligation to turn those keys back over to the tenant, at least in the state of New York here. So I mentioned an eviction because that’s obviously the route that I would recommend taking this.

Andrew Schultz: (13:35)
I would not screw around here. It’s pretty clear here that this is not the type of tenant or the type of traffic that you want in and out of your apartment building. And for that reason, I would immediately start reaching out to the attorney to work on getting some sort of an eviction filed. I understand that right now, it’s a little bit more difficult to get evictions due to the pandemic restrictions. And a lot of states, I know some states are finally starting to ease up on their restrictions. New York state is not one of them. As a matter of fact, they just extended our eviction moratorium to January 15th, 2022, but there is supposedly a carve-out in there for nuisance type evictions, which I would say this qualify as, as a nuisance type eviction, having someone move into a unit that is not supposed to be there, then having them get high as a kite and get trapped in a closet that they can’t get themselves back out of.

Andrew Schultz: (14:23)
That’s, that’s pretty clearly a nuisance type of eviction to me. And I think that you’ll have plenty of documentation to prove that style of nuisance eviction just based on the reports from the fire department and the EMS agency and whatever responding police agencies there were as well. You know, pretty much everybody is going to have some record that they were there. And for what reason, and if you can get copies of that, taking it into court with you, when you go for your eviction, if you’re going for a nuisance style of case, that’s going to make it a lot easier to prove the case to the judge and to try to get your eviction awarded. So hopefully that’s the route that you’re planning on going. I would, I would hope that you’re not planning on keeping these tenants after a situation such as this, but good luck.

Andrew Schultz: (15:04)
That’s definitely one of the stranger bad tenant stories I’ve heard in a while. One of the, you know, as a side concern, something that I was thinking about here is be very careful when you go to clean this apartment out on. The reason I say that is because you’re probably not going to get an apartment back. That’s clean. There’s probably going to be a lot of clutter and debris and stuff like that. When you do eventually get the place back, just be sure that you’re being careful, that you’re not exposing yourself to anything hazardous, such as, you know, chemicals or used needles used, what anything. I mean, just be careful when you’re cleaning the unit out and make sure that you’re not putting yourself in harm’s way, just trying to do your job and get the unit turned over and bed and ready for another rental.

Andrew Schultz: (15:45)
If your tenant’s lease term is up, but they’ve decided to stay at your property without your consent. You do have some options. Check out Rent Preps, latest guide on evicting, a tenant that no longer has an active lease by visiting rentprep.com/blog today. So that pretty much wraps up this week’s episode of the Rent Prep for Landlords podcast. Thank you all so much for listening. We truly do appreciate it. Our goal with the podcast is to help as many people as possible make educated decisions when it comes to real estate. And you can help us to reach that goal. If you’ve heard anything in this week’s episode or any of our other episodes that will help someone, you know, do us a favor and share it with them. If you’re looking to get in contact with me, I can be reached over at whatsdrewupto.com from there, you’ll find links to everything going on with me over at Own Buffalo, as well as other projects that we’re working on as well.

Andrew Schultz: (16:33)
We’ve just launched a free investment property deal analyzer, which is also available on that site. whatsdrewupto.com. It’s truly free, no-obligation whatsoever. And there’s also a companion video to teach you how I analyze deals and how to use our analyzing tool. If you’re looking for top-tier tenant screening services, head on over to rentprep.com, there are multiple products to choose from including a tenant-paid option. And if you’re over 50 doors, ask about the enterprise-level programs and pricing. We’ve been enterprise users of Rent Prep for years now, and it’s definitely changed the way that we screen our tenants. And you can check that out today over at rentprep.com. Again, thank you all so much for listening. We’ll be back in two weeks with an all-new episode that you won’t want to miss until then I’m Andrew Schultz with ownbuffalo.com for red prep.com. And we’ll talk to you soon.