When Your Tenant Seeks Revenge on a Lease Termination Notice…

A Tenant’s Revenge…

Here’s My Story of a Tenant that sought Revenge on a Lease Termination Notice

So, I am a real estate broker, property manager for landlords in the Chicagoland area, and have been a landlord for over 15 years. We all have our horror stories and when I look back, the percentage of true horror stories are very minimal. However, this past week, I had one tenant that sought to make it personal.

Unit 5…good ol’ unit 5.

We have only owned this six unit residential building for three months now and 2 of the 3 months have seen the tenants in unit 5 either bounce a rent check or simply pay several weeks late. Not good. While we applied the necessary late fees and NSF fees, I can already tell we inherited a tenant that simply can’t afford her apartment. I understood this going into the transaction. The issue is does the tenant understand that THEY CAN’T AFFORD THEIR APARTMENT?  That’s always the challenging part.

So, on Tuesday of this week and after I learned the tenant bounced her rent check, I provided the tenant with Notice of Lease Termination with a lease expiration date of 11/30. While I had requested that we terminate even earlier, this tenant took it personally. I could tell she did not want to move.  Within 24 hours, I received this email from her :

“What are we going to do about our floor downstairs? Those soft stops are getting worse and spreading more across the living room, 100% sure the floor is bad because it feels like there is no wood when u walk on them. It started off with Jus one spot that we showed by the air conditioner but now there are more areas like that which is totally not good…”

So, my deadbeat tenant wants me to replace the subfloor while she is living in the home? Seriously? Well, here’s what came next…

The Village Code Officer

Yesterday, I receive a call from the Village Code Enforcement Officer.  Yes…that tenant called the Village and filed a formal complaint against her unit. The Code Enforcement Officer wants the subfloor fixed within 30 days. When I explained the lease termination notice and bounced rent payment, there was no empathy.

So, I call the Unit 5 tenant and explain that I will have our flooring guy evaluate the floor next week.  I then state that her 5 Day Notice and Lease Termination Notice still are in full effect and we have no plans on renewing her lease on account of her past performance as a tenant.  Well, here’s what happened next…

The Village Police Department

Thirty minutes later, I get a call from the Village POLICE DEPARTMENT.  Yep…this tenant left work and drove to the Police Department to file a formal complaint against me for THREATENING her.  I’m told the threat involved me telling her I was going to “break into her apartment”.  Unreal.  When I explained to the police officer this just was not true, the officer recommended I record all future conversations with her as well as make sure an officer is present when I access her unit moving forward.

Ugh…all this because a tenant doesn’t want to move?  Is she that desperate?

Well, I decided to play one more card.  I called her and obtained her consent to record the conversation.  I simply wanted to establish a series of yes/no answers to questions to enforce my case as I anticipate ending up in court.

Overkill?  Yes, probably.

However, sometimes setting the legal standard is enough enforcement. You are probably wondering how the conversation went?  Well, as you probably expected, not good.  She siderailed the conversation and would go on and on regarding her situation and how I am not helping her.  I could sense the desperation in her voice.  I could also sense that she knew I had the upper hand and her regret for burning the forest in order to save herself.

So, where do we go from here?

Well, she paid yesterday IN FULL.  So, that’s good. However, I have a 10 day notice served to her with numerous violations and the Notice to Terminate Tenancy.  So, I can technically evict although rental payment has been made.

My plan is to seek further legal counsel and decide on the best course of action.

Should I quit being a landlord?

Hell no. I have managed hundreds of homes and can count the true headaches I have had on one hand.  However, this tenant is vindictive. I need to get that floor looked at asap. I need my attorney involved to make sure I make notes and take detailed action.

What are your thoughts? What should I do? Leave a comment as I need clever ideas!