Podcast 388: How to Deal With Stubborn Tenants

In this week’s episode, Podcast Host, Property Manager & Business Owner, Andrew Schultz, chats about a tenant that found BB Gun shots in the window from the rental’s neighbors.

Evictions are up and likely to increase! Here is what to expect within the next two months in the court system.

Last, but not least, how long does it take to get roaches out of an apartment and how do you as a landlord handle a pest infestation situation? Find out in our latest podcast.

Andrew Schultz: (00:00)
Hey everyone. Welcome back to another episode of the Rent Prep for Landlord’s podcast. This is episode number 388, and I’m your host, Andrew Schultz. On today’s episode, we’re gonna be talking about who’s responsible for BB gun gunshots in at tenant’s window. Our 3.8 million renters facing eviction in the next two months and treating for cockroaches in an occupied apartment. We’ll get to all that right after this.

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

Andrew Schultz: (00:32)
Have you joined the free Rent Prep for Landlord’s Facebook group? We just reached 13,000 members. And of course, that means we’re now on the hunt for 14,000. So if you have a question or a situation that you’ve never encountered before, 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: (00:59)
Water cooler wisdom, expert advice from real estate pros.

Andrew Schultz: (01:07)
We’re gonna start things off this week with our water cooler wisdom segment. This one comes to us via the Rent Prep for Landlord’s Facebook group. We’re gonna ahead and jump right in here. I’m a mom-and-pop landlord in California. A tenant contacted me telling me that her window had a BB shot in it. The tenant said that the kids from the neighborhood did it is the tenant responsible for this repair. So this is an interesting one because there are a couple different paths that you could take when you go to answer it. And I think a lot of this is gonna depend on your style as a landlord at the end of the day. Let me explain. So essentially you have a window that was shot from the outside, by the sounds of things. It doesn’t say whether or not the BB actually went all the way through, or if the window shattered, or if it’s just broken, or whatever the case may be.

Andrew Schultz: (01:50)
It might even just be a broken double pain with only the outside pain broken. There’s just no info in the question there. The problem is you really have no idea who it was that shot the BB through the window. The tenant says that it’s the kids from the neighborhood. It could have been, the tenant could have been one of the tenant’s kids, but all you have right now is a statement from the tenant on what happened. I would recommend telling the tenant to call the police department to make a report about it. If they haven’t already, chances are nothing’s going to come from that. But at least it helps to make a report so that if it becomes a more widespread issue in the neighborhood, there’s some sort of a trail there. Something may happen six months down the road, where some kids get picked up for shooting windows with a BB gun.

Andrew Schultz: (02:28)
And if they’re able to tie everything together, it may find its way all the way back to your broken window. So there might even be some compensation at the end of it when all said and done, but again, that’s a real long shot. So the first thing that you need to know is what are the laws regarding when a landlord can and cannot charge a tenant for damages, every state’s a little bit different, and what they will and will not allow you to charge. And many states have a warranty of habitability law that may require you to be the one to take care of this repair. So I would start by doing a little bit of, of research into your state law to see whether or not you can even consider charging this to the tenant, or if it’s something that’s going to fall on you regardless, the next thing you wanna take a look at is your lease.

Andrew Schultz: (03:08)
What does your lease say? Our lease says that the tenant is responsible for damage caused by them or their guests, but by the sounds of things, this was not the tenant or their guest. And if it was, it sounds like you really have no way of proving it. So this is further leading toward the landlord, covering the cost of the repair. There are some leases that state that the tenant’s responsible for, essentially anything that happens on the property during the time that they’re in possession of the property. And this would definitely shift the responsibility of the repair back towards the tenant, but you’re still going to have to explain to that tenant that they’re responsible for this damage, even though they weren’t the cause of it. And that could really put a strain on a good landlord-tenant relationship. If the tenant doesn’t understand where you’re coming from in a situation like this, I think you could try to use the same logic here that you would use when a refrigerator goes bad.

Andrew Schultz: (03:54)
When the landlord owns the refrigerator, we don’t provide tenants with any sort of a credit or anything. When a fridge goes bad because we weren’t the ones that caused the refrigerator to malfunction. Sometimes things just plain break. We replace the fridge, which we own, but not the contents of the fridge by the same token, using that same logic. Maybe we should be replacing this window, but not anything that was damaged inside. We own the window, but not the contents of the home in most instances. And I honestly think that it would be a stretch to charge the tenant here. Other people are obviously gonna disagree. And that’s where your business preferences at landlord is going to kick in. As I kind of mentioned earlier on in our office, this one’s likely gonna fall to the property owner due to the warranty of habitability. You have a responsibility to keep water bugs, and whatever else out of the home.

Andrew Schultz: (04:41)
And that means fixing the window, chances are, you’re never going to know what actually happened to it. And this is one of those items that, you know, we hate to pay out on. But I think the right move here is to handle the repair and keep on trucking. Unless you have evidence that it was caused by a tenant or the tenant’s guest in our eyes, this isn’t worth the argument in a good, healthy landlord-tenant relationship. And by the way, all of this changes, if the window’s broken from the inside at that point, I’m looking a lot closer at the tenant or the guests of the tenant as the cause of the damage, because obviously you can’t shoot a window from outside and wind up with glass outside. So if the window’s broken or shot from the inside, obviously the glass is going to be outside and vice versa.

Andrew Schultz: (05:24)
So that’s a kind of a way to tell as to where the direction of the bullet was coming from. But again, it’s a real rough situation here, unless you have some actual proof as to what happened here. I think that you’re probably better off taking care of this one as a landlord. Again, this one’s gonna fall down to what’s your style if of landlording and what are the laws in your state, but that’s my opinion on this one, we’re gonna jump to an in the news, we haven’t done one of these in a while. This article comes from Yahoo finance written by Brian J. O’Connor title of the article is “Census Bureau: 3.8 million renters will likely be evicted in the next two months – why the rental crisis keeps getting worse”.

Andrew Schultz: (06:04)
For the first time ever the median rent in the United States, top $2,000 a month in June, and the increases show no sign of stopping those rising rents mean that households representing a total of 8.5 million people were behind on their rent. At the end of August, according to census bureau figures, and 3.8 million of those renters say they’re somewhat or very likely to be evicted in the next two months. The combination of soaring inflation, the end of most eviction moratoriums and rental assistance payments and extremely low vacancy rate has pushed, rents up, and many renters out since 2006, rents a prison faster than home prices. But at the same time, the shortage of available rental units has steadily been increasing since the great recession in the year before the pandemic, the country recorded a shortage of 7 million affordable housing units for the low-income renters. According to this center for American progress, creating a crisis that left just 37 affordable rental homes for every 100 low-income households looking to rent.

Andrew Schultz: (07:01)
And the homes that are available are often still out of reach rent rates are up nearly 25% since before the pandemic with an increase of 15% in just the past 12 months. According to the real estate tracking service Zillow evictions are up to according to the eviction lab at Princeton university in August, evictions were 52% above average in Tampa, 90% above average in Houston, and 94% above average in Minneapolis St. Paul, while the federal government has distributed the bulk of pandemic related rental assistance grants. Some states and cities have been slow to make the money available to landlords on behalf of tenants who can’t pay their rent as it may, the national low-income housing coalition reported that 12 states and the District of Columbia had distributed half of their last assistance allocation while Idaho Iowa, Ohio had not spent any of that money. Two states, Nebraska and Arkansas refused to accept the federal rent assistance monies.

Andrew Schultz: (07:56)
Nearly half of renters have seen rent PIs. The average at median household income for all renters in the United States is about $42,500. According to Zillow, which is 37% lower than the national median income of 67,500 as of early August, the census bureau reported that while 56% of rents had a household income of less than 50,000, 24% of renters surveyed were paying more than $2,000 a month in rent, nearly half of all renters, more than 30 million people had been hit with rent hikes in the past 12 months with 19% paying a monthly increase of 100 to $250, 7% paying two 50 to $500 more and 4% needing to find another $500 a month plus to stay in their apartments to meet higher rents. 57% of renters said that they’ve relied on credit cards, loans, savings, or selling off some assets, including rating their retirement accounts. Despite that 14% of renters told the survey that they weren’t completely caught up on back rent, rising rents hurt some more than others.

Andrew Schultz: (09:01)
The rising rents are hitting minorities harder than others. According to the pew research center analysis of census data among households led by black adults, 58% were renters while 52% of those headed by Latino adults rented that compares to a rental rate of slightly less than 40% of Asian-led households. And 25% of households led by non-Hispanic white adults while inflation gets the blame for much of the problem with high rents, the cure for high inflation may also be contributing to the tight rental market as renters who wanted to become homeowners are increasingly being priced out of the housing market. As the federal reserve has increased the interest rates to cool off the economy and bring down inflation that move has pushed us mortgage rates up from less than 3% a year ago to 5.1, 3% by mid-August the combination of higher home loan rates and already high home prices as resulted in an 18% drop in mortgage applications from August of 2021, which is a 22 year low.

Andrew Schultz: (10:04)
So this is an interesting article, and I don’t think that this article is really telling us anything that we aren’t already seeing in our own local markets. I can tell you that here in Buffalo rents have been on a pretty steady increase over the last few years, even during COVID as a result of the low vacancy rates, people doing massive updates on their properties in order to get those higher rent yields out of them in increase in expenses, such as taxes and insurance and material prices and labor prices, the list goes on and on and on. I’m not sure how many states still have eviction moratoriums in place, or how many states are still in the process of distributing emergency rental funds. But I know that New York state has received a couple different rounds of funding that they’ve been working their way through. The problem is that there are already applications in Q are going to consume more than the amount of aid that’s basically available to the states to distribute.

Andrew Schultz: (10:53)
So in some states, just starting an application again, New York state, just starting an application means that that tenant can’t be evicted until that application has been decided on. So some states are literally leaving applications open for emergency rental assistance funds, knowing that they don’t have the money to fund the applications simply to prevent people from being evicted. Another issue that’s driving landlords away from offering housing is the fact that it’s getting increasingly difficult to screen tenants. There are states that are now preventing us from looking at things like eviction, data, criminal data, et cetera, that makes it very difficult to place new tenants. When you don’t feel like you have all the data you need in order to make a proper decision. Restricting eviction data is especially bad legislation. In my opinion, I don’t remember the percentage, but it’s fairly high. I wanna say like 75% or more of people who’ve experienced.

Andrew Schultz: (11:44)
One eviction will experience multiple evictions. So not having access to that data can really put you in a bad spot when it comes to making decisions on placing tenants. I know quite a few smaller landlords who chose to leave their properties off-market for some or all of the last two years, simply because they didn’t wanna place a tenant who they subsequently would not be able to get out. If things went sour, I think good tenant screening would help ease their concerns son, but for some people, it’s just gonna be harder to ease those concerns. And with more and more restrictions being placed on tenant screening, it just makes it harder and harder and harder to actually come to a conclusion and place a tenant. I think you’re going to continue to see a lot of smaller landlords exit the game altogether. That’s when you start talking about institutional money swooping in and picking up these properties from smaller landlords that are just trying to get outta the game. Most of the properties sold by small investors are not gonna go back to general population. They’re not gonna be picked up by individual home buyers. They’re gonna wind up going to the institutional guys. And this is gonna be a big issue over the course of the next several years.

Voice Over: (12:53)
Forum quorum, where we scour the internet for ridiculous posts from landlords and tenants.

Andrew Schultz: (13:02)
And last but not least, we have our forum quorum segment. This one, again, comes to us via the Rent Prep for Landlords Facebook group. We’re gonna go ahead and take a look here. Small town in Tennessee with roaches in a rental house. Last week, I rented my house to a single guy. He called two days later saying that he saw a few roaches. I immediately called a professional exterminator who treated the house. And five days after treatment, my tenant sends me pictures of a live Roach. He’s expecting instant results. I’ve told him that I will have it treated again. I don’t like roaches either, but feel that the tenant is expecting these instant results, which no exterminator can provide. I have offered to end his lease, but he does not want to move treating for roaches sucks. There’s no such thing as getting them all on the first trip through.

Andrew Schultz: (13:46)
And we find that we average three to four trips to eliminate a small to moderate Roach infestation and bad infestations can take way, way, way more trips than that. We’ve even had one house that we literally had to tend and treat because it was so infested. So you are right when you say that the tenant is not going to see instant results. You’re early on in the lease. The tenant’s not happy. And this is a situation that’s gonna take some time to resolve, frankly, you did exactly what I would do. You got a professional exterminator out there to begin the treatment immediately. You offer to let the tenant out of his leaves so that he could move into an accommodation that doesn’t have roaches that meets his standards and the tenant is telling you that they don’t want to move. So at the end of the day, you have to ask yourself just how much of an inconvenience this is for the tenant.

Andrew Schultz: (14:31)
If they’re not willing to separate from the situation when given the offer to make a clean break, something else that’s worth mentioning is that this tenant may have brought the roaches into the apartment when they moved in. I’m not saying that this tenant is dirty necessarily, but there are a lot of ways that you can drag roaches into a house, especially during moves. This also goes for bed bugs, by the way, if you used a U-Haul that wasn’t properly cleaned out and someone else had bugs, guess what? You could have brought bugs into the home. That way, if you brought a piece of used furniture and moved that into the house, you could bring bugs into a home. That way we’ve had several tenants bring bugs into a home by purchasing used sofas. As a matter of fact, there was one area that we used to manage apartments in.

Andrew Schultz: (15:13)
It was a lot of student rentals and there was this one couch in particular that every time I saw it, I knew that that apartment was going to be a headache because I’d seen that exact same sofa get moved from house to house, to house around the university district, by whatever students left it on the side of the road at the end of the year, like it was an ugly couch and it was totally infested. But the next group of students, somebody would say, oh man, free couch. And they would grab it and they would move it into another rental. And the bugs went right along with it. So that’s definitely something that happens much more frequently than people understand. I think. So it is worth considering that this may not have been an issue until the tenant moved in. Now, do you have the ability to prove it?

Andrew Schultz: (15:55)
Probably not, but you could certainly ask them if they purchased any used furniture or used a, a moving truck or something like that, that may have been contaminated when they moved in. So from your perspective as the landlord, what else can be done? You’ve already begun treatment of the situation you’re continuing to treat as time goes on and you’ve given the tenant the option to terminate their lease and walk away from this situation. If they’re not happy, we know that it’s gonna take time for the treatment to have an impact and to kill off the roaches, not only these roaches but the eggs and the subsequent generations that’ll need to be sprayed and treated for as well. In this instance, I honestly don’t think there’s a lot more that you’re going to be able to do. You could be, you offer some at home Roach treatment, maybe a can of spray or something like that to the tenant so that they could spot treat as necessary.

Andrew Schultz: (16:39)
But as far as going any further than that, I think that you’re already meeting the standard. You’ve obviously jumped on this and are doing what you can to treat the situation. The tenant either stays and deals with the situation or the tenant chooses to move out and you refund their security deposit to ’em. I would just say, continue to be upfront with the tenant, explain to them how many treatments the exterminator thinks this is going to take, how often the treatments have to occur, whether or not the tenant needs to be home when the treatments take place, et cetera, and also make sure that the tenant has a list of guidelines on how to best prevent roaches from recurring, as well as how to prepare for your treatments. Our exterminator actually provided us with a list of pre-treatment steps that we send to all of our tenants while in advance of their appointment, to let them know what they need to do and what they can do to try to help prevent this from happening in the future.

Andrew Schultz: (17:28)
Once the treatment is effective and all the roaches have died off. So this is just a simple one-page sheet. I’ll read through the five steps here so that you guys have it as well. Feel free to jot this down, use it with your tenants. And it’s pretty similar instructions for both roaches and for bed bug treatments. The top of the page basically states that every step of the instructions have to be completed, do not skip steps. Skipping steps may result in a continued infestation. And then because we had some apartments where tenants had individual locking doors for their bedrooms, like in the university district, we also made a note, leave all doors inside your home unlocked on treatment days. Number one, remove all items from cupboards. This includes food plates, silverware, pots, pans, et cetera. Number two, all open food must be placed in the refrigerator or an airtight container.

Andrew Schultz: (18:15)
Number three, dishes and closed food should be placed outside of the affected areas. Number four, wash all dishes, cooking utensils, pots pans, cetera before use number five. If dressers have sign of roaches, remove all drawers and place all clothing in smooth plastic bags or smooth plastic bins with cover. So there you have a, those are the five steps that our exterminator gave us to help with Roach infestation. When they come in to do a treatment, to try to maximize the effectiveness of each treatment as you go through it. But again, this is gonna be a treatment-type scenario. I understand that your tenant’s upset. They want instant results, but unfortunately, that’s not really going to be an option here beyond doing what you’re already doing. Maybe supply them with a can of Roach Ray so that they can individually spray as needed. But I think that you’ve done what you can here to meet the requirement as a new landlord. It can be overwhelming to get all of the correct documents together for your rental. Let alone set up a lease in Rent Prep’s latest guide. Find out how to set up a lease stress free visit rentprep.com/blog today. For more information

Andrew Schultz: (19:20)
That pretty much wraps up this episode of the Rent Prep for Landlord’s 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 heard anything in this week’s episode or any other episode that will help someone that, 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. Grab a copy of our free deal analysis tool today over at whatsdrewupto.com. There’s no obligation and it comes with a companion video showing you how to use it.

Andrew Schultz: (20:01)
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 enterprise-level programs and pricing. I’ve been an enterprise user of Rent Prep for years now, and it’s changed the way that we screen our tenants in every aspect. It really has 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 wanna miss until then. I’m Andrew Schultz with rentprep.com and we’ll talk to you soon.

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