Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tenant Problem

If you follow this little blog, you know that we have a few real estate rentals.  With rentals come tenants and in a down market sometimes one can end up with problem tenants.  We may or may not be in this boat and we are trying to figure our way out.

We rented one of our properties to some younger guys.  These are guys with college degrees, decent jobs (first professional job), who have a clean background (i.e. no criminal issues).  But we did rent to three guys (it is a three bedroom home) and these guys have girlfriends and friends and some how the home is often the site for gatherings.

Well one of the neighbors has complained to us via an anonymous letter.  The complaint primarily appears to be related to the number of cars parked at the home at any given time.  On Friday night, Mr. Sam swung by to check, there were three cars in the driveway (the letter mentioned 5 or 6 cars).  The home has a two car garage but the guys are opting not to park in the garage because they've got a boat in the garage that they are working on.  Assuming three cars for the guys, a girlfriend or two at the home it does add up to 5 cars or more. 

The home is in good repair and the lawn is cut and tended (we pay a service, and our home's lawn looks remarkably good considering the long term drought we are in, much better than many other lawns on the block).  We have checked, there are no code issues with the home or police reports (i.e. related to loud parties). 

The guys pay the rent on time and they don't call us (which is what Mr. Sam likes).  At least one of the guys is looking to buy a home so at present they are on a month to month lease, meaning either of us could give 30 days notice.

The problem is we have one neighbor who is annoyed, we are going to own this property for some time so being on good terms with the neighbors is important.  On the other hand, the neighbor opted not to sign the letter so there is no way for us to go back and communicate on this issue.  There are no police or code complaints so that leads me to believe this is not really a problem, but of course a complaint to us could be followed by a complaint to code.

What would you do? 


Beth said...

I can see you have some misgivings about renting to three single men. From my own experience, there is always a vehicle issue in those situations. Not only their own but their guests. It is inconvenient for some neighbors especially those that have to pull out of their driveways and find their field of vision blocked but frankly there is nothing you can do about that except to rent to singles or small families. I have made a decision not to rent to more than two single people no matter the size of the house.
I do have a suggestion and that is to talk to your tenants about the complaint. One of my previous tenants had a problem with one of his grown children and the police were called to the home on a couple of occasions. The neighbors mentioned this to me and I went over to the house and discussed it with the tenant. I really liked the tenant and mentioned there had been some talk in the neighborhood and if there was something I could do to help him. He was embarrassed but I think he appreciated my discussing the matter with him to get his explanation and my concern for his well-being. It was not too long after that, he decided to move. The move was the result of an unrelated personal situation but I also believe he felt he did not belong in the neighborhood.

Crystal @ Sandy Eggo Runner said...

It is unfortunate that the neighbor didn't sign their letter, so you could discuss it with them. This makes me think that they are embarrassed or know that they have a petty request. My parents live across the street from a 5 bedroom that is often rented out to 5 college kids and they just ask that they park their cars on their side of the street. I like Beth's comment that mentions talking to the tenants just to let them know that there has been a complaint. I don't think that you should end the lease because there is a significant cost to you to find another tenant and complete background checks, etc. The cost isn't worth it just to appease mr. anonymous. I'd also maybe wait to see if there are any more formal complaints before assessing if there is a "real" problem.

sclawgrl said...

Some people just don't like renters, and anonymous letters are a convenient way to vent without any personal responsibility. It's not fair to say that single people can't have significant others and friends visit their home - it is, after all, their home. It didn't say they're having loud parties late into the night - that would at least be a reasonable complaint.

Anonymous said...

Before the internet became mainstream, I purchased a foreclosed home a few doors down from my home and we invested a lot in the landscape. The neighborhood was only a couple years old. We hired a property manager and never told the neighbors we owned it. At the annual neighborhood Xmas party the next door neighbors always had a complaint about who ever was renting at the time, they also had all sort of complaints about their jobs, weather, etc. We never had a tenant problem, they always maintained the property and always paid on time. Some people look at the glass as half empty. I would forget about the complaint. They need to learn you can't pick your neighbors.

Sam said...

Thanks for all the feedback. A couple of follow up points.

We have always rented this property to a group of guys. In fact our first tenant was Mr. Sam's roommate and for about five years one roommate would pass it down to the next roommate, he would pick up new roommates, etc. We are used to guys and up to now, over the course of 5+ years, it has worked out well.

The cars are being parked on our property, you can't park in the street, so at times they've got 3-6 cars in the driveway and a car or two on the swale. The guys are not blocking or parking in front of neighbors' homes.

We have talked with the tenants and suggested/directed (we could be stronger in this regard) that they move the boat from the garage to the side yard (there is a fenced in area with a parking pad designed to store a boat) and then they could park two of their cars in the garage. We have told them that there was a complaint.

The letter just focused on the parking/cars issue, but Mr. Sam assumes they are having regular gatherings/parties at the home (although we've gotten no complaints in that regard) based on the state of the home (meaning the living room has a ping pong table in it).

Mr. Sam is going to swing by the home on his way from work once a week and stop by on the weekends and try to get a feel for what is really going on.

Anonymous said...

maybe the anonymous complaint is to inform you as the the landlord that your rental property may seem "misused"? it wasn't clear from your description of the neighbor's complaint that there are just a lot of cars parked out around the house OR if it was a noise/partying issue. maybe the neighbor wanted to inform you that it may actually be 6 people living in the house instead of 3. some people have issues with allowing more than the leaseholders to be staying/living in a rental house. unless the neighbor calls the police or sends yet another letter, i wouldn't stress it. maybe inform the renters that a letter of complaint was sent, but inform them that YOU as their landlord have been happy with them as renters. good luck.

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