On Being a Landlord (Subtitled: Eviction, New Tenants, and Remants)

For all of you landlord and landlady dopers out there, let me hear your stories and warnings about new tenants, evictions, and other things.

As for our situation, it could be summed up in one word “ugh”. A bit of backstory: My SO bought a second house years ago and is renting it to his ex-mother-in-law who also has let her daughter, my SO’s ex-wife, stay there on the weekends so she has room when she has visitation with the kids. Well, it looks like the ex-wife has moved in there full time and rent is 3 months past due and has been since June. They’ll pay the backrent, but then still owe the next month’s rent. The cycle has shown further signs of slowing down since the ex-MiL has been hospitalized for various health problems and has stopped working her various part time jobs. The ex-wife hasn’t worked in over a year and is collecting unemployment from her nanny job (and thinks taking any other job, like McDonald’s, is way beneath her).

There’s a reason I’m with my SO, he’s a sweetheart, and a bit of a pushover. Unfortunately, he’s also always good cop to my bad cop and doesn’t know when to say “no”. After many a long talk with him about how unhappy he is with them owing so much without plans on paying him, he finally let me take the reins a bit. I looked up the local rental laws, followed the first step which is to send and post a “notice to pay rent or quit”. This has to be given 30 days prior to filing with the courts. In that time, he has gotten daily calls from the ex-MiL, the ex-wife, and the ex-wife’s father who hasn’t been married to the ex-MiL for 20 years. All three begging that he doesn’t evict them. They’re attempting to manipulate him (“why are you being so mean to us?”) into staying without paying the rent as well.

In fact, when we went to pick up the kids on Sunday, our eight year old daughter came out of the house, head hung down, shoulders slumped. I asked her why the face, “because daddy is trying to take mommy’s last $100 and making her lose the house”. Now it’s one thing when they try and manipulate my SO. It’s another for getting the kids involved and I’m very protective of them. (I explained to her that we weren’t losing the house since we owned it, but Mommy does need to look for a place of her own to live in). It took all I could to not say anything more, but I do not want them ever to be used as pawns. Grr.
One question, for landlords who have had to evict, how do you rent out the place? Do you wait until the current tenants are out, or do you show the place as you normally would?

What other tips/advice do you have? (Besides never ever ever ever ever renting to ex-anythings)

Laws vary dramatically, but in California, we have to wait until the people are totally out of the house (escorted out by the Sheriff, if need be), then we clean everything up (the inevitably leave crap), and stick it up for rent.

I wouldn’t show the place while they’re still there - if they’re being vindictive, they could mess the place up and make it look terrible, they could try to hang out and make comments/drive by and be obnoxious, etc.

I also highly recommend looking up the statutes for damage and deposits, and hope you have a “move-in” checklist attesting to the state of the place before they moved in.

Also, see if there’s anything about charging them for unremoved items/trash - my sister-in-law essentially got evicted from the top half of the house we were renting (she didn’t pay rent for 4 months, got taken to court, paid up, and then didn’t have her lease renewed) and left a ton of stuff in the garage, basement, and porches. We dealt with the porches and she was threatened into dealing with the garage, but we’re still “excavating” from the sheer amount of junk she left in the basement. It’s been a chain of broken promises in getting her to remove it, so we’re slowly trashing it all.

Ah yes, my SO, being the kind soul, did not take a security deposit. :smack: On top of that, the ex-MiL has said “Well, since you’re evicting me, surely you don’t expect me to pay you any more money” which she was not just referring to any new rent, but all of the back rent as well. Both of their credit scores are completely shot (we get “business calls” for the ex-wife at our home), so adding a civil judgment against them won’t get the money either.

Sometimes you have to accept that no additional money is coming and move on.

In California, after a tenant has been forcibly evicted, the landlord has to keep all of [del]their crap[/del] their belongings left behind for three weeks. After that, any significant stuff has to be sold publicly (ie, yard sale). You can show the place and rent it as soon as they’re gone.

What a mess!

Your SO might also want to talk to a custody lawyer to see if he has to send his daughter for visitation in the interim, or after the ex is evicted since she won’t have a home at that point. It’s clearly not a healthy environment right now.

Oy. I did the landlording thing for two years (not by choice) when we were trying to sell our house in Ohio.

The laws almost everywhere are NOT in your favor. When tenants are done paying, they’re done paying, and there’s not a whole lot you can do. Once someone has possession of a property in most states, you’re SOL. You tie up your property and time filing court documents trying to get them out. What a pain.

People thought I was an idiot for letting my tenants pay about two out of three months or so. But I knew that if I started eviction, I would have the house payment all to myself for four months straight. They finally left of their own volition and I kept them in good enough graces that I even talked them into mowing the grass after they moved out.

I managed to sell that awful house just two months before the local Ford plant shut down. Whew!

Explain to your kids that the house is part of your assests. If it cash flows you can use the money to pay some of your expences.

If their mother does not pay you your money (not hers) then you could loose the house and your finances could take a turn for the worse. And if their mother does not move out or pay up she will be out of your house anyway when the bank takes over. The X is hurting your family and their needs come before the ex’s wants.

Yet another reason not to do business (rent, in this case) with family.

I’m sure he’s heard this already, but renting a house to one’s ex-mother-in-law sounds like the worst idea in the world.

Fingers crossed for a minimally painful conclusion to your story.

I had a tenant move out in the middle of his lease and destroy the carpets on his way out the door but I couldn’t even start fixing the damage because he left the storage room full of his crap. I had to go through the entire eviction process, spend $1200 to get a lawyer to file the paper work, and get the Sherriff over to dump his crap on the curb before I could do anything so he couldn’t sue me. As soon as i can unload this place I don’t think I’m ever going to have a rental property again.

“We purchased this property as income property, and we rely on the income, I’m sure you can understand that, yes? I do wish I was in a position to support another family but I am not, especially when my income property isn’t bringing any income in. I don’t want to see our family ties further eroded over this, so I’ve begun the process of eviction as you have left me no other choices. I am sorry that I require tenants that I can rely on to pay their rent, regularly and on time, however I, personally don’t see this as unreasonable. I’m sorry that you do. The only reasonable course of action I can see, to limit erosion of my family and mend my finances, is to stop renting to relatives, and find a tenant that can pay their way. The sooner the better. While this will be upsetting to all, having to evict relatives, having it ongoing and creating continuous conflict and financial strain is just not an option we’ll even consider.” Write it down and keep it by the phone if you have to.

Having started the process, move forward. Do not drop the ball, file the paper work on time, serve copies to all required bodies. The 90 days, or however long, will pass. I would avoid their calls after repeating the above a few times till they get the idea. It’s not your place to inform them of what will happen when, it’s all available to them if they like.

You want them to seek information outside of you. So they can discover that they will, in fact, be put out, you are, in fact, within your rights, and there’s nothing, in fact, they can do. If they choose to be in denial they may find themselves put out into the street. {Be prepared to call that bluff, these leaches are close to attaining a permanent rent free home, they won’t go down without pulling on your last heartstring, I promise.} Prepare yourself that you may have to involve the law, have your ducks in a row at the deadline, know the procedure.

Also be prepared, the very day they are evicted, to have a mover come and move everything they’ve left behind to a storage facility, and to have a locksmith change the locks. This is on your dime and will be money very well spent to remove any cause for them to return to the home. Where I live landlords are obligated to store any junk they leave for 3 months, after that you send them the key to the storage locker (registered mail) and they can either collect it, or forfeit it to the storage company. Accept, up front, the costs and time it will take and you can sail through this thing with a little less trauma to everyone’s emotions, especially your child’s.

Have it cleaned/painted, whatever and put up the for rent sign. Doing this quickly and effectively will go along way to helping your child understand that this was a business decision and you’re moving on. Were I you, I might be looking for an overnight visit to a friend/relative for the weekend or few days before/after the actual date of the eviction, for your child. They don’t need to see it all unfold, up close.

Good luck to you, this is a challenging thing you’re facing. I hope you’ll let us know how it goes!

Well, isn’t that sweet. :rolleyes:

A word to the wise - be extra nice to your SO. By doing what he did, it sounds as if he wanted to avoid exactly this kind of horror. No good deed goes unpunished, unfortunately.

Good luck to both of you. Dealing with exes is a source of conflict in most relationships.


Here in Massachusetts, it’s six months, and you have to use a State-approved storage facility. But luckily, though I’ve evicted two tenants, I’ve never had to put a tenant’s things into storage.

Really, the secret is to get good tenants in the first place, and cross your fingers. And don’t put up with any crap, either. As soon as things go bad – nonpayment of rent, or other forms of misebehavior – hit 'em with a notice to quit and begin the process. That’s the lesson I’ve learned. The process itself takes months, so the longer you wait, the more you lose.

“Sweetheart, your mommy seems to have forgotten that adults need to get a job and pay their rent. When mommy doesn’t pay her rent, her landlord has to kick her out. That’s why you always have to pay your rent and not live beyond your means.” What an excellent learning opportunity for your children!

Yeah, these leeches aren’t going without a fight. I second stop taking their calls. They made their bed, they get to lie in it now. And look up the eviction and storage of tenant crap laws - you might have to show up with a sheriff to get them out. This happened to my parents in their rental units ALL THE TIME - tenants wouldn’t pay, they’d disappear in the dead of night, and by law, my parents were responsible for holding onto their crap and not putting it in a dumpster for something ridiculous like six months.

And take pictures - lots of pictures - the day they leave. If they’re that behind on rent, you likely won’t recover any damages that may be done to the place, but you should document anyway.

Good luck!

These threads do explain a lot about why my landlord investigated us with the thoroughness of my husband’s security clearance check.

This worked for me, and for a guy I know: Offer them $XXXX cash to get out in 24 hrs. (or 48 or whatever).

I did better eating it on the owed rent and getting them out right away, than if I’d started with eviction notices etc. and played around with that for who-knows-how-long.

Update time!

We’re not sure what happened, if someone had given them a good talking to or if their consciences finally came home to roost or what. The Monday before Thanksgiving, my SO got a call stating that the ex-MiL’s brother had hired a trash haul-away company as well as a moving company. They were going to come on Saturday and take it all away. The ex-wife asked if we could keep the kids at our house that day so she could concentrate on packing up and getting out. Great, sure, no problem.

Well, if you’ve seen any episode of Hoarders, you know the problem when the trash people arrive to take away the stuff. So, Saturday came and went with nothing done and the kids stayed at our house just in case. SO started to get worried that it was all a rouse to buy time, but we couldn’t file with the court until Monday anyway, so it was a moot point. But, I did go over there and put up “for rent” signs and we’ve already got a couple calls before I posted an ad on craigslist.

Monday arrived and so did the trash people. This time for real. We were told a lot had been removed from the property. SO stopped by today to see what progress was being made and saw the moving company loading the big pieces of furniture out of the house. He was told by the ex that they would not be sleeping there anymore, but there was still going to be a few things to move out over the rest of the week.


Now, on to getting a new renter in there and making sure all of the background check/credit checks are done, deposit is received, lease is signed, and all of that stuff.

Well, that’s good news! Here’s hoping that they’re fully out by the end of the week (you’re changing the locks, right?) without doing more damage than the usual wear-and-tear from living in a house.