Podcast 385: How to Deal with Nuisance Neighbors

In this week’s episode, Podcast Host, Property Manager & Business Owner, Andrew Schultz, chats about how your neighbor’s lifestyle could affect whether or not your rental property remains occupied.

What do you do when you have a current tenant that asks if their friend can occupy the rental unit with them for a few months? Find out in our latest podcast.

Last, but not least, learn about a landlord that failed to keep up with their property inspections and what they found upon arrival of picking inspections back up again.

Andrew Schultz: (00:00)
Hey everyone. Welcome back to another episode of the Rent Prep for Landlord’s podcast. This is episode number 385. And I’m your host, Andrew Schultz. On today’s episode, we’re gonna be talking about what to do about a hoarding neighbor renting to short-term renters and the importance of property inspections. We’ll get to all that right after this.

Voice Over: (00:22)
Welcome to the Rent Prep for Landlord’s podcast. Now your host, Andrew Schultz.

Andrew Schultz: (00:27)
If you checked out the free Rent Prep for Landlord’s Facebook group, we just reached our goal of 13,000 members. Thank you to everyone who’s joined so far, but that means we’re on the hunt for 14,000 members. So if you have a question or a situation that you’ve never encountered, or you just need to bounce an idea off a big group of housing providers, this is the place. 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: (00:57)
Water cooler wisdom, expert advice from real estate pros.

Andrew Schultz: (01:05)
We’re gonna start off this week with our water cooler wisdom segment. This one comes to us via the Rent Prep for Landlord’s Facebook group. Has anyone ever had a neighbor with hoarding issues? I currently have a property for rent and despite a shortage of housing in my area, we’ve been unable to successfully rent this property. I’ve lowered the price to below market and have shown it to a handful of people who actually qualify after my screening process. I had an appointment set up for tomorrow, but we received a message from the prospect saying that they were no longer interested in the property after driving by and seeing the junk and disrepair of the next-door neighbor’s home. What options do I have as a homeowner to have the city take action against a property that is in disrepair and has junk on the front, back inside yards?

Andrew Schultz: (01:48)
And again, this one comes via the Rent Prep for Landlord’s Facebook group. So this is an interesting question because you are essentially attempting to convince someone that you really have no control over that they need to clean up their yard. Uh, I think the question kind of speaks for itself here. There could be a ton of different reasons that this neighbor is not taking care of their yard. It could be anything from simply not having enough time in the day to, you know, a recent medical condition, preventing them from getting out and around the house. The way they used to, to maybe a nasty divorce causing people inside the home to squabble and not take it or things they could just not care. I mean, there could be a multitude of reasons. Uh, basically there’s no one reason that would stop someone from taking care of their yard could be any of a number of reasons or even multiple reasons.

Andrew Schultz: (02:31)
I see two main options that you have available to you here. You could try to have a conversation with that neighbor about the situation they may or may not be receptive to that conversation. But I think that this is probably the right tactic to start with now understand that once you’ve had this conversation or attempted to have this conversation with the neighbor, your second option is essentially going to be call the city and see if they’re going to get involved. Once you call the city and the city comes out to take a look at the property, the neighbor’s going to know that you’re probably the one that, that made that phone call. Now you’re dealing with a situation where you may have retaliation against you, um, or against your tenants even against your property. So obviously that’s not very ideal. Also, keep in mind that just because the city comes out to issue a notice to the neighbor that they need to take care of their yard doesn’t mean that that’s gonna happen overnight.

Andrew Schultz: (03:17)
Typically these notices are given with plenty of time to actually get the work done. And more often than not. If you ask for an extension, the city’s typically going to give it to you depending on your municipality. It may take a long time for you to actually see results. When you call the city to try to deal with the situation, they may have to go through multiple violations before they can even issue a fine, and then they may need to issue even more violations on top of that before they can take something actually to housing court for that violation, I could remember that there was a case here locally in Buffalo, where a landlord who was known to be rent homes with lead paint hazards in them was not properly disclosing the lead concerns or taking care of the hazards. And it ended up with a ton of kids getting sick over the course of several years.

Andrew Schultz: (03:59)
Then it took forever for it to get into the actual court system because they had to go through this whole process. I think it’s still playing out in court. Actually. I don’t think that that’s actually been decided on yet, but I can guarantee you that that guy is going to get absolutely destroyed based on what he’s done and the length of time that he’s done it over. Uh, anyway, I’ve kind of away from the point here. The point I’m trying to drive at is that just because you call the city on Monday, doesn’t mean that the yard is gonna be cleaned up on Tuesday. And the chances of you getting the neighbor angry in the process are gonna be pretty high. Meanwhile, you’re still sitting on a vacancy that you can’t rent out, which is a major concern for you. What about putting up a fence?

Andrew Schultz: (04:35)
Obviously, we don’t know how the properties are laid out or anything based on the question. Uh, but if this person is going to be a neighbor long-term, is it possible for you to install some sort of a privacy fence that would block the view of at least some of their property? Obviously, that’s gonna be expensive and it would probably be one of the last options that I considered. But if you find yourself in a situation where the neighbor is not taking care of the problem and the city won’t do anything out, it that’s the one thing that popped into my head as another potential solution. Going back to the onset of the question here, we were talking a little bit about what would cause someone to have a yard that’s unkempt. And is this a situation where perhaps you can acquire the asset and take care of it the way that you want to?

Andrew Schultz: (05:17)
So when you already have an adjoining property, sometimes it’s nice to have control of the assets immediately surrounding you. So this is the type of situation where purchasing the neighboring asset is going to give you the ability to clean it up and improve both assets, which really just improves your rental portfolio as a whole, depending on the situation your neighbor’s in, they may wanna stay in the house after you purchase it. Maybe you can work out some sort of a situation where you buy and maintain the home from the neighbor, and then they pay you monthly rent, just like any other tenant. If someone’s in a situation where they have a major health concern, that’s popped up, or they’re going through a divorce, this may be a very viable option. They may be in a situation where selling is the best case scenario for them.

Andrew Schultz: (05:58)
And it might be a conversation that’s worth having with the neighbor are any of these great options, not necessarily some are better than others, but this is not a situation where a great option really seems to exist. At least in my opinion, some options are better than others, but at the end of the day, none of these are awesome. I’d start by talking to the neighbor first in the interest of being fair to them. And then I would approach the city or the municipality to see what they can do. Uh, if anything, best of luck to you. As you sort this one out

Voice Over: (06:30)
Forum quorum, where we scour the internet for ridiculous posts from landlords and tenants.

Andrew Schultz: (06:39)
Our forum quorum this week also comes to us via the Rent Prep for Landlord’s Facebook group. Let’s go ahead and jump right in here. My tenant is asking for permission for her friend to stay with her for three months. Uh, she said he’s a traveling nurse and he would also have a dog based on my lease. This is not allowed. Hence why she asked for permission for the extra person, car, and dog. She’s a good tenant. So I’m inclined to allow it based on a background check. I would like to temporarily up her rent a bit, but I don’t know how much currently it’s a two bedroom paying 1150 a month. Uh, how much do you bump rent for a three-month period? And is this a bad idea? Any feedback would be great. Do I have him sign his own lease? I live in Rhode Island and again, this one comes via the Rent Prep for Landlord’s Facebook group.

Andrew Schultz: (07:23)
I think that you’re doing exactly the right thing here. Letting someone move in for a three-month period without having any paperwork on them or even a credit and background check is just highly risky in my opinion. So I do applaud you for jumping in on this before it turns into a problem for you down the road, as far as how you’d go about screening the incoming tenant, I would screen them the exact same way that you would screen any other tenant, have them fill out your rental application, completely submit proof of income, run the credit and background check, et cetera, follow your full procedure, just like you would any other tenant. My focus in this instance would primarily be on the credit and the background check, even though this person’s not going to be responsible for the rent payments, it never hurts to know whether or not they’re good about making sure that their bills are paid on time.

Andrew Schultz: (08:05)
The background check here is obviously what you’re gonna spend the most of your time looking at. You wanna make sure that the person coming into the unit meets your criteria with it. Being a traveling nurse, chances are, you’re not gonna have a whole lot of problems with that. Typically speaking people in the medical field are subjected to background checks and things of that nature when they start their employment and having a criminal record in some states can honestly lead to the revocation of their license altogether. So that doesn’t apply to just people in the medical field. Either. For instance, when you apply for a real estate agent or broker’s license here in New York, you have to answer a question as to whether or not you have a criminal record. I don’t remember if it asks about felonies or misdemeanors or both or whatever, but the point is, if you have a criminal record, I think it’s more difficult for you to get licensed in the state.

Andrew Schultz: (08:49)
And it’s like that on a lot of different industries, whether it be medical real estate, police security, things of that nature, pretty much anything with a state license. It makes it a lot more difficult to actually get licensed and do your job. So if something happens and you wind up with a criminal record while you’re licensed, it may be considered sufficient reason depending on why you have the, uh, criminal record that may be considered a sufficient enough reason to actually revoke the license. So you also mentioned that the incoming tenant would have a dog in terms of what we look for when it comes to animals. We require the applicant to submit a photo of the animal, along with current, up-to-date, rabies and distemper vaccines, as well as a copy of the animal’s license from the municipality. If it’s required, it doesn’t sound like this is an emotional support or a service animal.

Andrew Schultz: (09:35)
It sounds like this is basically just a pure pet based on the way the question is worded. So based on that, I would charge additional security and or additional rent depending on what you can do in your state. Animals do have a tendency to cause additional wear and tear. So I think it’s worth collecting a deposit or additional rent or both to offset that. Keep in mind that if the animal is a service animal or an emotional support animal, the rules change drastically. We’re not gonna jump into all that on this episode, but just understand that emotional support animal or a service animal they’re treated more or less the same as a C P a P machine or a pair of crutches, their medical equipment, not a pet. Um, I would like to make sure that the incoming tenant signs some sort of an animal agreement that outlines what the animal is, the rules for the animal, such as where they can be taken out, make sure you clean up after it, things of that nature.

Andrew Schultz: (10:25)
And that agreement should also include any additional rent and or deposit that you’ve decided to charge for that animal. The agreement should also state that in the event, the animal becomes a nuisance or, you know, attacks somebody or whatever the case may be shows aggressive behavior that the landlord has the authorization to tell the tenant that the animal has to go as per leasing documents. There are a few different ways that you could go about doing this. You could just do a simple one-page lease addendum, uh, stating that effective X date and ending Y date that the new tenant will be living in the property. You could also write in this addendum that during this period of time, the rent will be increased by, you know, X number of dollars per month to a new rent of whatever. I would make sure that you add something in here.

Andrew Schultz: (11:09)
Also with regards to this, that the incoming tenant is accepting the home in as-is whereas condition so that you don’t have issues with, you know, some sort of a security deposit dispute or something along those lines down the road. You might wanna talk to an attorney on this as well, but it may not hurt to have language in the lease document that allows you to continue to charge the higher rent in the event that that person does not move out after the three-month period. Keep in mind that once someone has physical access to the property, the only legal way that you’re removing them from that property without them wanting to leave is via eviction. You may have to evict both tenants, the original tenant, and the new tenant. Um, but that’s probably how I would handle it in my office. Here would be just with a simple lease addendum.

Andrew Schultz: (11:54)
You could also generate a brand new lease. This feels like overkilled me, especially for a three-month period, but it is a viable option. If that’s the route that you wanted to go, you would essentially wind up terminating the existing lease with the single tenant and generating a new lease with both tenants for that three-month period. And then I guess you would have to generate another new lease after that three-month period ends and take it back to just the single tenant. If that’s the route that you really wanted to go, of course, all of this could be accomplished with addendums adding or removing people from the lease. But if you’re a real stickler and want everything on an original lease document, well, that’s your prerogative. That’s your option as well. Again, I applaud you for taking the time to think about this on the front end, you’re saving yourself a lot of headaches on the back end. If something goes sour, just by going through the process of screening this potential tenant and doing the paperwork front prior to them, moving in

Voice Over: (12:47)
Feet on the street, real stories from real property managers.

Andrew Schultz: (12:56)
Our final segment this week is our feet on the street segment. This one also comes to us via the Rent Prep for Landlord’s Facebook group. If you haven’t noticed yet, we pull a lot of questions and a lot of content from our group. We get a lot of good discussions there. Be sure to check that out. If you haven’t already, I know we plug it at every episode, but it really is a good group to check out anyway, feed on the street this week is all about keeping up on your inspections. Let’s go ahead and jump right in here. Reminder to keep up on your inspections. I got a couple of violations from the city, uh, for our yard. So I go over to the property to find an unauthorized dog. The yard is absolutely covered in dog poo and it stinks. I found the front door damage, the blind shredded and the yard had weeds as tall as the house, the tenants are responsible for yard care.

Andrew Schultz: (13:41)
I spent five hours cleaning up the yard and that didn’t include any of the feces removal, which the tenant would told us the rain will wash away. Yeah, that’s a pretty brutal one. I’m not gonna lie. I read that one and there’s nothing worse than showing up at a property that you haven’t been to for a while and discovering that things are not the way that they’re supposed to be. I think we’ve all pretty much had that feeling in our stomach as we’re going to a property for the first time in a while. What’s it gonna look like when I get there? Is it still standing? Have the tenants managed to burn the place to the ground yet? Usually, it’s not too bad and more often than not, our anxieties are misplaced, but every once in a while you show up and you find a situation just like what was described here, how do you go about combating situations such as these?

Andrew Schultz: (14:26)
The first thing that I do is recommend doing interior and exterior inspections of your units. At least once every six months, obviously this was a lot harder to do during COVID when people didn’t want anyone around them for any reason. But at this point, I think most people are back to the point where doing inspections is not gonna be a problem. This gives you an opportunity to take a look at the property to ensure that you’re not moving toward a situation. Exactly like what was described at the onset. It’s much easier to confront an issue early on than it is to deal with it. Once the house has been filled with the brim by a hoarder and doing an inspection every six months, in my opinion is frequent enough that you can catch most problems before they become major issues. Yet it’s infrequent enough that most tenants won’t be bothered by it, or feel like you’re invading their privacy.

Andrew Schultz: (15:11)
If you’re gonna do an interior inspection, you do need to make sure that you’re notifying the tenants properly prior to the inspection, different states are gonna have different rules on this, but pretty much every state has something codified in the law with how much notice you need to give a tenant before coming in to do an inspection in a lot of places, it’s a simple 24-hour notice. In some areas, you have to go longer such as 48 hours or sometimes a week if it’s just a routine inspection. And then other places you’ll have, um, carve-outs if there’s like an emergency. So if there’s a big maintenance issue, someone’s toilet is flooding a, an apartment below it or something generally you can enter right away for an emergency maintenance, but you gotta check your laws to make sure that you’re not in violation of anything like that.

Andrew Schultz: (15:51)
One of the things we do when we notify the tenant about the inspection is we let them know where we’re going to be looking and what we’re going to be looking for. It’s not because we want them to hide things from us, but I can tell you that there have been a lot of times where I’ve opened up a cabinet, uh, or looked under a sink and found something that I’m pretty sure the tenant would rather that I don’t see. So if they know that we’re gonna be looking under sinks and peeking into every room, they’ll know enough to at least move things that they want to keep private. Uh, we also tell tenants that we’re going to be taking at least one photo inside of each room for our records. That’ll generally spur them to clean things up a little bit before you show up.

Andrew Schultz: (16:28)
But these inspections aren’t really about getting your tenant to clean up their house. At least not initially, it’s about being able to see the things that may have an adverse impact on the property before they become a major issue. So being able to actually see what you’re looking at without having to Wade through clutter or dirty dishes or whatever is just gonna make your job a lot easier. So if you walk in to do an inspection and the unit is trashed, you know, that you have an issue that needs to be addressed with that tenant as a result of your inspection. Some of the things that we always make sure to look at inside the property are the smoke and co detectors, the sinks, and the outlets talking first about the smoke and co detectors. We’re looking to make sure that we have at least one smoke and co detector anywhere that there’s required.

Andrew Schultz: (17:08)
One required by code number two. We’re looking to make sure that that smoke and co detector is within its useful lifespan. And number three, that it’s actually functioning and has a battery in it. Keep in mind that smoke and co detectors need to be swapped out every five to 10 years, depending on the manufacturer’s instructions. So anytime you’re checking a, a smoker co detector or changing a battery, it’s worth making sure that they’re actually inside the functional date that they’re supposed to, once they age, they become less sensitive over time. Um, so that’s something that you wanna pay attention to. You wanna make sure that you have units that are actually, you know, within date and actually functioning in the unit on syncs. We’re gonna run the faucet for a couple minutes to make sure that we don’t have any leaks anywhere in the system.

Andrew Schultz: (17:48)
You wanna make sure that, that you don’t have water coming out from any part of the faucet, such as around the handle or dripping underneath, due to a loose supply line, anything along those lines. And while you’re under the sink, you’re also going to want to check that drain line and the supply lines to make sure that there’s no water leaking anywhere under the sink. Something that we like to do to help protect cabinets in the event of leak is to put some scrap sheet vinyl flooring, or some scrap stick-down tile in the base of the cabinet. And then that way, if the water ever hits it, at least you have some time before it starts damaging the wood, the cabinet base, and for outlets, what we’re looking for is anything that could be overloaded or anything that has an electric space heater plugged into it.

Andrew Schultz: (18:30)
If somebody has an outlet with a power strip plugged into it, and another power strip plugged into that, and another power strip plugged into that, you can pretty much guarantee that outlet’s gonna get overloaded, which could be very hazardous in theory, the breakers should trip, but it could also result in the line heating up and starting on fire. What’s more important to us is that the tenants aren’t running a bunch of electric space heaters in their units, not so much the outlet overloading, we look for that, but the space heaters is really one of the bigger issues. That’s an, uh, problem here up in, you know, upstate New York, especially during the winter months, electric space heaters put a pretty sizeable draw on a circuit. And depending on the type of the unit, they can be very hazardous or a source of ignition for a fire, especially some of the ones with exposed coils and things of that nature.

Andrew Schultz: (19:16)
Now imagine if that electric space heater is plugged into that string of three power strips that we had just talked about, it’s literally a recipe for disaster. If you do have to use an electric space heater anywhere, you’re gonna wanna make sure that it’s been tested and certified by underwriter laboratories, and the way that you would find that would be check the website or the owner’s manual for the device, or typically you’ll find a UL sticker right on the power cord. Are you thinking about investing in a rental property or maybe you already have one, but you’re not sure just how much profit it could produce Rent Prep’s latest guide helps you calculate your net operating income to see just how good of an investment your rental property really is. Check it out today over at rentprep.com/blog. That pretty much wraps up this episode of the Rent Prep for Landlord’s podcast.

Andrew Schultz: (20:02)
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 our goal. If you heard anything in this week’s episode or any other episode that will help someone, you know, please 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 at Own Buffalo, as well as other projects that we’re working on. Grab a copy of our free deal analysis tool today over at whatsdrewupto.com. There’s no obligation and it comes with a free companion video showing you how to use it. 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. I’ve been an enterprise user at Rent Prep for years now, and it’s definitely changed the way that we screen our tenants. Check that out today, over at rentprep.com. Again, thank you all so much for listening. We’ll be back in a couple of weeks with an all-new episode that you won’t wanna miss until then. I’m Andrew Schultz with ownbuffalo.com for rentprep.com and we’ll talk to you soon.

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