Land­lord sta­tus ends friend­ship

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My hus­band and I rented our house to friends ap­prox­i­mately two years ago, for sub­stan­tially BE­LOW-mar­ket rent. Shortly af­ter they moved in, prop­erty val­ues started go­ing up and we hinted that we would like to sell the prop­erty when they va­cated it.

About six months af­ter their lease ended, we thought they were get­ting ready to move out. How­ever, they broad­sided us with news that the hus­band had can­cer. We told them not to worry about mov­ing at that point. We feel that we have been pa­tient and un­der­stand­ing with them, while they have made mul­ti­ple, ma­jor de­mands of us.

Things came to a head when the wife de­manded that we re­wire the en­tire house, af­ter they had over­loaded the cir­cuit breaker with mul­ti­ple space heaters!

Fast-for­ward an­other six months and now they are not talk­ing to us and have no plans to move out un­til next year at the ear­li­est. We have taken a loss on the rent for nearly two years now — to the tune of al­most $10,000! We feel that re­gard­less of the can­cer is­sue, we need to give them no­tice to move out. What do you think? Are we be­ing un­rea­son­able and heart­less? — CATCH 22

Your ten­ants are pay­ing the rent, and even though the rent is be­low-mar­ket value, you set the amount. You should re­search the laws in your state, but ac­cord­ing to my re­search, they are “ten­ants at will,” which means that they have stayed on be­yond the end of their lease, with your per­mis­sion. They are ba­si­cally rent­ing month-to-month, and would have to move as long as you gave them 30-day’s no­tice in writ­ing.

You have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to pro­vide a safe home while they are rent­ing, and they are re­spon­si­ble for any dam­age they do to your home. They can de­mand any­thing they want to de­mand, but you don’t have to make changes un­less these are nec­es­sary re­pairs. If they are plug­ging in mul­ti­ple space heaters, it sounds like your fur­nace may need ser­vic­ing.

Be­cause of your ten­ant’s health prob­lems, the com­pas­sion­ate thing to do would be for you to give them plenty of no­tice be­fore they are re­quired to va­cate the prop­erty — per­haps by the first of the year. This will give them time to find an­other place to live. Their move-out date should be your choice, not theirs.

Con­sult an at­tor­ney to put this no­tice in writ­ing — to make sure you are ful­fill­ing your re­spon­si­bil­i­ties as a land­lord so that you can treat your ten­ants fairly, and also re­claim your own rights and prop­erty.

I want to thank “S” for telling the story of be­ing conned by an on­line scam­mer who was mas­querad­ing as a suitor. I also ap­pre­ci­ated your re­sponse that the emo­tions she was feel­ing were “real,” even though she had never met the man in real life.

I had a sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ence and want to add my voice of sup­port.


Any­one who has tried on­line match­ing can see how this type of in­volve­ment could hap­pen.

Email: askamy@tri­ Twit­ter: @ask­ingamy

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