In the December edition of our Landlord Link e-newsletter (email firstname.lastname@example.org to subscribe), HousingLink shared a story about a destructive renter and asked how our readers would handle the situation. Here were their answers (NOTE: The opinions expressed and shared are not endorsed by HousingLink.)
John (Attorney): "I would have filed an order for protection action with the court to have this tenant immediately removed from the property, and at the same time I would have served the eviction action. Assuming the judge grants the order for protection (based on the facts of this situation), the tenant would get arrested on the spot if he came within so many blocks of the property. With the tenant out of the property the eviction would have went much better, and the landlord wold not have been blackmailed by the tenant to pay him money."
Linda (Landlord): "Before renting to anyone, know the legal rights of both the landlord and renter. I have a duplex that I rent and knowing the laws is very helpful. Given the property damage and hotel expenses, the owners in this case would have spent less to evict him. I always take before and after pictures of my properties and date them. People often think they have to have an attorney for everything, but many things are simple enough. Take time to educate yourself on the in's and outs of property management."
Diana (Code Enforcement Officer): "It is unfortunate when the law used to protect us is used by someone for harm and in violation of the lease they signed. It sounds like the owners of the home followed the law in an effort to have the roommate removed from the home. Taking the advice of the Police Department and leaving the home for the remainder of the roommates' tenancy was a wise choice. Personal safety and security is a top priority. A thorough background check and contacting rental references is a must when renting property. While there is a never a guarantee that you will have a good experience, previous evictions are a red flag."
Leo (Landlord): "Sue the renter for the property damages. Start with small claims court and if that is not enough, go higher."
Fran (Landlord): "I would try to put him in jail for destroying personal property."
Sara (Landlord): "The state laws need to be changed to help people who have to live with this kind of behavior. Landlords are thought to be the bad guys. The only way to do anything about these situations is to work with state legislature. We need to make this kind of behavior illegal and punishable by law. What I see in these photographs is a crime. It is called constructive vandalism. If we had penalties attached to it people would not be inclined to do it. The man in the basement knew what he was doing because he has done this to others. With the way the laws are now he will continue to do it. It is his lifestyle and what he does for a living. It is actually how he makes his money. We can all work on getting this kind of thing a crime by working with state legislation. The cops will do nothing because there are not enough laws surrounding the subject. I know because I deal with this all of the time."
Robert (Landlord): "Realizing the written/oral agreement needed to end, the following steps should been taken. 1. Write a termination letter to be given or placed in plan view for the tenant. This should include Your Name,address and signature are required as is the Tenant(s) name and property. Reason for termination in this case I would indicate month-to-month and any additional charges. Only because it was not a basement that could be legally rented for living making your lease unenforceable. 2. Hand deliver the termination letter to the unwanted Tenant(s) or post it on the door to his/her room or another area of plan view. Although move in occurred in July ending November 15th, I would have presented letter sometime in August between 15th and new month beginning. 3. Make copies of letters to get notarized by court administrator and have delivered by a third party.Such as a process server of sheriff. 4. Appear in court with supporting documentation ready for hearing. 5. After winning take the judgment to the sheriff and have the renter evicted."
Rick (Landlord): "Under the lease for criminal activity (if you have one) press charges for destruction of private property. At housing court ask the Judge for an imminent eviction (no children) for breaking the lease as a result of criminal activity on the property. With a good judge he or she will give a 24 hour eviction as long as there are no children living in the unit. With no kids in the unit a seven day grace period is not required. I also recommend landlords conduct a thorough background check and refuse to rent to people without rental history. I once had a rental unit damaged when I went through an eviction process. My losses were $11,560."
Robert: I saw this story when it originally aired on the news. I recognized this tenant's modus operandi and realized this was the same person who was renting a room from my mom when she passed away last May. I contacted the landlord in the story and confirmed that this was the same individual. After my mom died, he never paid any rent and refused to leave the property. We had to have the estate sale with him living there because he would not leave. At one point I offered him $600 to leave. He countered with $900. I told him to forget it, and had him served with an eviction. He would call me very politely begging to stay longer, and when I told him no, he would start swearing and screaming at me and tell me what a horrible person I was. He did not leave until the sheriff posted notice that they would be there within 24 hours to forcibly remove him. Later he left me a message asking if I could give him a good reference!
Do you need to know the steps to evict a tenant? See the MN Eviction process here.