Tenant Harassing, Trying to Intimidate Landlord

A landlord shared with us the difficulty she is currently experiencing with a tenant who just moved out.  Although she gave him proper notice and a cleaning checklist several weeks in advance, when she tried to hold him accountable for the poor condition of the property when he moved out, the tenant threatened to sue her.

Now, his parents have gotten into the fray, repeatedly emailing the landlord and leaving threatening phone messages.  They say they’ve hired a lawyer and will take her to court.

This landlord is not alone.  Many others have experienced concern that a tenant will find some way to “get even” with them, including calling in building inspectors, law enforcement authorities, or lawyers when the tenant doesn’t have a leg to stand on. These tenants are trying to intimidate the landlord in order to keep a security deposit, live rent-free or otherwise violate the lease agreement.

Landlords don’t have to tolerate harassment, intimidation or threats from tenants.   

If a tenant threatens you with legal action, ask to speak with the attorney they claim is representing them.  Get the lawyer’s phone number and give them a call. Lawyers have an ethical obligation to follow the law, and cannot encourage a tenant to pursue a course of action that is not justified. Chances are, the attorney will speak to you more respectfully, making it easier to resolve the problem.  Ask for information from the attorney in writing.

In all likelihood, there is no attorney, and the threat is empty. 

In that case, make it clear to the tenant or person harassing you that you will not tolerate any further communications unless in writing.

If the harassment continues, or if at any time you fear for your safety, the safety of others or your property, report the behavior to the police.  Prior to founding Tenant Verification Service, Marv Steier served as a Police Officer.  In his experiences, a landlord has the option of filing harassment charges against an unruly tenant or others who threaten or try to intimidate the landlord. Steier suggests obtaining the  file number for the police complaint, and placing that in the tenant’s file.  Making a police report is also an important step in the event you later have to obtain a restraining order against this tenant to keep them away from you or your property.
 
Keep a record of all communications with the tenant and any one else acting on their behalf.

As a landlord, you hold a serious legal threat of your own –the tenant needs you to give them a reference if they are going to rent again. You can remind them of this fact, but use a non-confrontational manner.

It is not appropriate for the landlord to use idle threats, or profanity, when dealing with problem tenants. If the matter does wind up in court, the judge will look more favorably upon the landlord who remained professional and did not escalate the dispute.

Maintaining a high level of professionalism from the outset if one of the best ways to avoid aggressive tenants.  Tenants respect landlords who lay down the law:

Always require a completed Rental Application.

Conduct a thorough Tenant Background Check, including a Credit Report, Criminal Background Check, and Eviction Report, to determine if this applicant has displayed inappropriate behavior in the past.

Call the previous landlord to obtain a reference.

Provide specific rules regarding how the property will be kept during the tenancy.

Complete a Move-In Inspection Report with photos or videos of the condition of the property.

End the tenancy with a walk-through and Move-Out Inspection report, with photos or videos of the condition of the property.

TIP:  Conduct an orientation for new tenants. Point them to www.tenantsinfo.com to learn about their rights and responsibilities as tenants. Where tenants know what is expected of them, there are far fewer hassles for the landlord.

This post is provided by Tenant Verification Service, Inc., helping landlords reduce the risks of renting with fraud prevention tools that include Tenant Screening, Tenant Background Checks, (U.S. and Canada), as well as Criminal Background Checks, and Eviction Reports (U.S. only).Landlord Credit Reports

Click Here to Receive

Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Charles B. Smothers III January 4, 2011 at 3:11 pm

I personally enjoy the newsletter’s that TVS sends out as it provides further clarification and insight for those of us landlord’s whom are not property managers or have a professional background in property management services. I have utilized your services for my existing tenants and it has aided me in posting that they have been current/on-time paying their monthly rent. In closing, I look forward to utilizing your services on future tenants and hope to add my properties under my nest eggs.

Marie January 14, 2011 at 6:14 am

I, too am having a acting out or being imtimidating. I live downstairs and I have a couple living upstairs. Their main claim is not being warm enough and the driveway is not plowed to their satisfaction. I do control the heat and it is kept at 70 degrees at all times. To help them solve the problem I have put heat deflectors on the forced air vents, suggested they move items away from the air ducts(they had a live christmas tree in front of one of them)and I have closed off vents in my apartment downstairs so more heat is going upstairs. Still they claim it is not watm enough. His fiance actually yelled at me at the top of her lungs for not fixing it. I di not yell back because that is not how I am. I am trying very hard to accomodate them like I should. So in retaliation they have called the code enforcement person from my town. I spoke with them(the town) and nothing happened. He also has left various messages on my answering machine still not satisfied with the heat and the plowing. He actually measures how much snow there is and calls and complains because it is not plowed. Last night after I came home I did call my plow person and asked him to come plow. But in the mean time my tenant went out to shovel the driveway, I thought he was leaving to go somewhere. His car cannot make it out of my driveway according to him. I think he has bad tires. But instead of putting the snow on the other side of the driveway where there is tons of room to deposit the snow( I have 2 1/2 acres of land) he buried my car. On the driver side he put 3 feet of snow and in front of my car there was at least a foot. I did not take the bate I just waited until he finished and went out and unburied my car and then my plow person came and cleared the driveway of the rest. I have a contract for plowing because the driveway is 200 feet long and it is plowed at 3 inches and above. There is only 5 more months left on their lease. I did get references and checked them out. One of them was at his workplace but unfortunately he was recently fired from there. So please tell me what further I can do to help this situation. I feel he is trying to intimidate and bate me for a confrontation and that is not my style to argue. Thanks for this article

Moiz Ahmed August 13, 2011 at 2:00 am

I found this article while researching harrasement. I have a town home that I couldn’t sell and my tenants came to me and signed a lease for two years with lease to purchase option. He hired the attorney and got the lease agreement made. He offered me 5K as the deposit for the purchase which I accepted. He wanted to prove by giving me this money that he is honest and “will” purchase the property. Exactly 6 months before the lease was supposed to expire he stopped paying me rent, saying he wants the money to be used in lieu of the rent (where as the agreements we signed specifically say he cannot do that). I called him numerous times 3 months before he stopped paying rent for working on the Home Owner’s Complaints against him that I received but he never picked up my phone. After he stopped paying me rent, I called him to do the same and he replied with one sentence “talk to my attorney and if you don’t use my money against the rent I will drag you in the court for the next 9 months”. I hired an attorney, it took us 6 months to get a court date for eviction (imagine that), in that time I never called him to said anything but kept getting threatning messages from him through people we both knew about him dragging me in the court and also that he is waiting for me to go into foreclosure so that he can negotiate with the bank and buy the house. On the day of the court, he filed a report against my wife for harrasement (my wife hasn’t even been in the city for almost 2 1/2 years). I had send him a notice to inspect the property and as I went there to inspect (I had never disturbed him while he was living for the entire two years and never went into the property – I live in a different city), he wasn’t at home and upon calling him he said he will be there in a minute. He came and instead of letting me in the house he said I did not setup an appointment with him and he will not let me in the house. He also said that he has filed a harrasement case against my wife and he will get arrest warrants issued against her, so I should better leave. I had police officers with me, I just told everyone that I don’t want any problems so its okay and I will not go into the property. We went to the court that day and the Judge dismissed the case saying it was not in his jurisdiction. Now, I have not had rent since last 6 months, he is telling everyone (common friends calling me a telling me that) that he kicked me out of my own house and has won the case. On top of that he is threatning to get arrest warrants for my wife – my wife hasn’t even seen him up till now. Can anyone help me with this? Please

ariel ferreira December 1, 2011 at 9:20 am

i have a tenant that keep telling my dad he is going to kill him what should we do

thomas December 6, 2011 at 5:11 pm

It seems to me that the tenants have all the control in a rental situation, i own two houses on one lot in los angeles california, i live in the guest house and the tenants {two sisters and once child each} live in the main house, when i let them move in i had an addendum added so they pay 1/2 the water bill, i would send them bills and they would continuously igore them, they are the type of people that are very passive aggressive, and act like they are innocent and sweet to your face and then stab you in the back, its been two years now and they have yet to pay one cent of the water bill, they have been late on the rent about 85% of them time, I finally charged them a late fee for the first time last month, they couldnt believe it! and wrote me letter saying what a horrible discusting person i was… i have baked cakes for them, fixed anything they called me to fix right away, i feel i have been so incredibly taken advantage of, now i want them out and being in a rent control area of los angeles, i might have to pay them a huge amout to relocate them, does anyone have any ideas for me???? help!!!!!!!!

Al August 27, 2012 at 12:33 pm

I have a female tenant that resides in a shared apartment with 3 other girls. She is so messy and abusive verbally, she has chased 3 of my tenants away. She has made claims that im a racist landlord as if that were the case, why would I have let her move in. the problem tenant as well as the other 3 female tenants are black as well. When I found out she was intimidating people by threats, I confronted her about this and she started getting hostile with ,me. I have asked her numerous times to stop engaging in conflict with other tenants and she says she isnt yet 3 have moved out and 3 others have said the same thing about her. One tenant has filed a complaint with police department, the others are too scared to file complaints as she has threatened to have her people come by and take people down if do anything. She has told people inthe building she is on probation for a felony she committed. Currently Dept of soc services is paying her rent. I just hired an attorney. She has made threats to other tenants that if she was to get evicted she would burn the house down. Just last week she found out im going forward with an eviction process against her and she “had a grease fire” in the kitchen and burned down my kitchen. Fire department labeled it as a grease fire yet she was “in the shower” when it happened. After the fire was going, one of the other tenants on her floor was actually there and called me to let me know what was going on. The problem tenant never called me or the fire department when the fire started. I be;lieve she junped in the shower long enbough to wet her hair..pretend she knew nothing and went upstairs to tell the guys on 2nd floor there was a fire yet she has had arguments with them constantly. Every day I bring in a new tenant, they move out the same day or in a short time. This woman is crazy and although i c ant prove anything i know im right and i know what she has done. Any thoughts?

me December 1, 2012 at 7:18 pm

OMG this is my tenant exactly! He has tried to bully and intimidate me, refused to follow tenancy terms throughout, told us he can do what he wants, yell and swear in my face whilst foaming at the mouth, pointing fingers at me. Refuse to pay rent but want to stay, refuse to leave, then want to leave and break the lease without penalty. Threatens to take us to court and try to make my husband lose his job and lots of money, his words. Abandon the unit after agreeing to leave and we allowed them to break the lease just to keep peace, not show up to move out, keep the keys, threaten to come back in with police based on the original lease (the one they broke and moved out on) threaten to break into the house, disturb new tenant…then call the police on us while harrasing us because he knew we would call them – and they had heard his bs lies first! Will not stop calling, texting, email threats and intimidation, had to change phone number. Shows up at house with police, claiming he still lives here with young daughter home alone scaring her. HELL. Still we remained professional and careful but with some people they are capable of so much vindictive retalitory bs.

pj December 11, 2012 at 10:12 am

Help! What can I do my tenant is a military officer from the local air force base, and has been intimadating me from day one. They refuse to do the yard work, per lease agreement and constantly harrass us for imaginary repairs. I called the local,police when they started screaming. Police showed up and would not let me file a report. My husband and I usually do all repairs, we built 2 homes and he is very excellent. After the 12 month lease, the agreement states it goes month to month… can I tell them they have to vacate. He conned me into cheap rent and now this.

mahjabeen January 21, 2013 at 8:37 pm

Hi,
I have a female tenant who lives with her son ,she has rented two rooms from us. I have a male lawyer tenant who also lives in the room that is adjacent to their room.
The lady speaks rudely to me and leaves her dirty dishes in the sink we clean after her. She bakes the cupcakes and serves it to the other tenants infront of me and does not offer me any thing.
The reason is that she does not want me to get the chance to tell her to eash her own dishes or take the fridge out of her son’s room as per the lease agreement.
The male and the female tenent show alot of love and friendship for each other and
do not want to comply by the rules of the house for example leaving their empty beer, soda,bottles ,cans behind. Leaving the heater on for day and night, keeping all the lights on etc.
I am scared of them what should i do?

JOHN March 16, 2013 at 9:34 pm

If a tenant threatens the property owner’s son to burn down the property owners home but the phone conversation is a non consensual recording is there any way the property owner use the tape as evidence in an eviction?

Chris March 19, 2013 at 7:33 am

Hi John,
The rules regarding recorded conversations vary from one place to the next, and same with the rules of evidence. You need to speak with a landlord or trial attorney in your area. Thanks, Chris

Theresa April 29, 2013 at 11:39 am

I have a Tenant that pressed charges on her Husband for strangulation a couple years ago. He did some time for that. He is currently back on the property living with her. I know that there was a no-contact order, but it may have lapsed. This man has made several attempts to let me know “what I should or should not be doing as a on-site Manager” I have posted several notices to his wife…whom is my Tenant-he is considered an Unauthorized Occupant at this point and refuses to do an application or give me documentation on the lifted no-contact order. He called Code Enforcement on me and it failed. He is now currently taking photo’s of the property, my crew as they work and of myself while working too. Recently, I caught he and his wife trying to look through the windows of the office while it was closed. He has screamed and cussed in my face and has several other Tenants now caught up in the drama he has created. I live in the same building as they do. I am a small woman and he stands 6’4″ and is really intimidating. He is now scaring and harassing other Tenants as well…..I have tried to find information to help with Managers and Owners…there is NONE! All laws regarding Tenant/Landlord’s is for the Tenant only!
I have posted several notices asking to meet with me to resolve these issues. They ignore them. I need to know if I file a 30 No-Cause to evict them….can they claim retaliation? They called Code Enforcement the beginning of this month…I just want them to leave so Peace is restored…HELP!

Ben There October 24, 2013 at 11:56 am

All a landlord need to do is file for an eviction. This is not to say you will get them out of the apartment but in my experience all the courage and conviction–and hot air, goes away as the nasty tenant comes near a court of law where a judge is present and has the power to put them in a cage.
The nasty ones are the easiest. Film them in during one of their violent drama-sodes and then write them up for disorderly behavior or, if appropriate, for harassment of the other tenants. If they are late on rent send out a pay or quit and for your own sake, charge late fee’s and don’t loose a bit of sleep over things. There are many slum-lords out there that have ruined the landlord thing with their games, and then there are professional landlords that provide the tenant with far more than they deserve.
Never forget this when you know your apartment is a nice place.

Your tools are:
1. The Lease — make sure it is comprehensive, — the best ones are used in the big cities with all the loopholes either exposed or closed.
2. Pay or quit — when rent is due and is late send both certified and standard mail.
3. Notice to Cease — when a part of the lease has been violated, write them up and send just like Pay or Quite. Stuff like stop damaging the house, stop causing altercations, stop menacing the landlord, stop paying partial rent payments, stop acting like a subhuman, stop ignoring provisions of the lease etc …

4. Camera and Video –record and document everything. The judge likes this stuff.

5. Get a good sidekick and empower them as an agent of the property. Sometimes a
burly friend or relative tips the scales in your favor plus when you have a serial scammer or a professional tenant you need a witness to protect yourself. These types of tenants have no conscious, no scrupples, no concern, and ertainly no place in your home. Cull them out. Do not let them disturb your good tenants.

6. Complete a safety inspection periodically and do so with the minimal notice in writing. Once you give notice in writing you cannot be kept from entering. If you are prevented call the police and get them involved.

7. Do a periodic check of who is living in your apartment as serial scammers tend to follow each other around like drug addicts. Sub-letting is grounds for eviction and flop-houses are bad for business.

8. If a tenant reports a problem always respond within 24 to 48 hrs and send notice of resolution in writing. While making the repairs look around the house for signs of tampering of safety devices–ground for eviction, fire hazards, etc … a bad tenant usually has no awareness of their own safety much less anyone elses.

9. Beware of the following scams:
a. The sink that is always clogged when the rent is due. It is caused for effect.
b. The claim that mold is in the house. This is a big one these days and while it is possible do not hire a mold remediator to test your house for mold. They will always find something and try to get you to spend a fortune. Hire a house inspector that does not do repairs or remedation.
c. The renter that pays in cash. This smells of illegal activity
d. The renter that pays partial payments.

Make sure your tenants fill-out applications

Melanie November 25, 2013 at 9:17 pm

I have done this five times before: Since I have not been able to drive since 1998 I have had five people here that I only charged a pro-rated amount for utilities, including, electricity, water, gas, cable TV with all channels and internet, in exchange for driving me when / where I wanted or needed to go. All five times it worked out well for both parties, they were all either disabled vets or down on their luck. When they were financially able to or got their benefits, they moved on to bigger and better things, some of them still call me and they call me Mom. But the sixth one, he is already getting his SSI and was looking for a place to live that he could afford so we made a deal, I told him I would charge him 150 per week, but would cut that in half if he would drive me, although he accepted the deal he created such a hostile environment that I could not be in the car with him, he also refused to take me anywhere he didn’t want to go even though I rode with him and waited in the car while he saw his doctors, pharmacies, got stuff out of his storage…etc. He has also created a hostile environment around my home by trying to take control of everything I do and changes things to suit himself, even if I object, so I ask him to leave. It turned into a barrage of e-mails, some berating me, some insulting and some accusatory, sometimes I fired back but not to the degree he fired at me. He has threated me with lawyers and social workers if I try to evict him, He has also decided that even though he didn’t keep his part of the bargain and will not drive me, or harasses me until I want to get out of the car, he will only pay me 75.00 per week and that if I try to evict him, he will sue me. there is no written contract other than e-mails that clearly explain the deal and shows that he agreed to it. I tried sitting in the back seat and using my MP3 player to tune him out, but he just yells that much louder and I can not avoid a confrontation with him. I want him off my property and out of my life, do I have any recourse. Additionally, he is living in my game room separate from my house but it is not approved as a rental unit and continues to harass me by e-mail, daily.

Joan Green December 26, 2013 at 12:16 pm

I have been renting for 3 months now. I told the tennats that the rent was going up in 3 months. After several text messages i met the tennants and their parents and grandparents. My property has been damaged and ruts in the yard. Trash is thrown around the yard and not put in container provided which was on the rental agreement. I said rent was going up and it turned into a verbal confrontation which i was threatened that i would never rent again and another verbal threat. I dont know what my rights are but i know it is illegal to be harrassed by tennnants. Please i need advice on what to do?

cynthia bruce January 18, 2014 at 4:47 am

I have a small house with a older renter. She always thinks furnace is not getting warm. Had it checked a few times by professional. Her family even say
s its fine. Yesterday it was 17 out and she calls because its only 70 in house wants me to hire some one to come out and check the furnace. My
husband went over she has a programed for 70 degrees it was 70 degrees in the house

Diana Manager March 13, 2014 at 8:23 am

My husband and own a 12 unit apartment building that has 3 floors and we have a tenant that has lived in our building for 3 years that lives on the 2nd floor. As far as rent goes, she basically pays her rent on time. When she is going to be late she contacts us to let us know she will be late with the rent. Unfortunately, she is also an habitual complainer.
Since she has lived in our building she has complained about every single person that has lived above her and also the children who live in our building. The children who she is complaining about are not making noise during daylight hours and she has even complained (lied) that the children are making noise when the children aren’t even home. I have asked our other tenants if they have heard the children and all of them have said no. The little bit of sound the children are making are everyday children sounds. They are not jumping or thumping or screaming or anything that would disrupt anyone.
This tenant has even went so far as to tell me that I should force the kids to play outside because they get on her nerves. I informed her that would be against state law. Now, 3 days ago she had a very loud argument with her daughter and I had several tenants call me to tell me that it sounds like someone is being killed in there. I told them to call the police. My husband and I even went there to speak with her about the incident and also spoke with both officers. I have tried to contact this tenant by phone but I think she blocked my number. She can contact me from her number but I cannot contact her from her number. My husband and I have went over there to speak with her but she has a very bad/snotty attitude with us because the police were called. She even said that since the police were called on her that she will call the police when she hears noises that bother her.
My question is, can I evict her? Her rent is on time, but she calls and demands unreasonable requests and basically harasses us by these unreasonable demands and calls us demanding us to stop every sound that gets on her nerves.

Jen June 21, 2014 at 5:29 pm

I have owned my rental property for over 25 years I’m 70 My daughter is the manger for over 2 years, Trailer just got rented to a couple and 3 kids that or under age. took rental application and other information. On June 1st 2014 big mistake let the family move in they read the lease which is a month to month lease, didn’t give them a lease until they paid rent of $500.00 a month and no deposit in amount of $ 475.00. Took their words due to husband said he doesn’t get his disability check til the 3rd so they moved some things in on sun 1st of June 2014 , they couldn’t move in til electric was in their name. they have no lease no nothing, he would text manger tell her he going to bank to cash a big check then every day of first week of June all he did was putting us all of his wife couldnt understand why owner and manger was coming to their place he told her he paid us and made many excuses and lies to her, he took a picture of the bank sent it to manger, in that week of June he flipped out texting his wife and made harmful threats toward himself and called landlord dirty nasty names and harassed us his wife called law and all or other tenants were scared of him.9 cops on or property due to him getting caught after telling his wife all texts messages he sent on having a big check to cash and bank said it was to big to cash and it would be a day or to which he didn’t have a checking account nor a big check, so he cut himself hid on or property cops found him he went to mental hospital. next day went with witness told her she will not be able to stay she had no way of paying rent and deposit she agreed and said she was getting a divorce and he beats her and her kids , anyway their was a small water leak that needed to be fixed she wife turned on us wouldn’t let us in trailer to get in bathroom she is excusing owner of pushing her down and called all kinds of people stating we have cut a pipe so they didn’t have water , husband gets out made threats on beating owner and under age kids on or property that leads to a creek we own and we have trapassing sign everywhere they were told to stay out when calling law they said do you own that water, kids were naked, cops told us to stay off of or own property and husband been going under trailer ripping and taking pipes and under pending off or trailer, the law defends them I has tried to arrest us if were on or own property kids Jumping on hood and roof of their vehicle yelling bothering other tenants. spanking each others butts and we have no right . their last land lord we wish we have known soon told us they are nuts and the husband pulled 22 pistol on one of their tenants and law didn’t anything cause he had bb’s in gun also they stolen electric from another meter. they have threaten to call U.s Marshall on us . they have caused us so much problems and having there low life friends harassing us threw face book and following us, filed a trapassing charge against then after 2 cops told them to stay of or property toward are creek and cops said they do it again they will be arrested yeah right they are still doing it and all the law does is nothing. others tenants have made peace disturbance law didn’t help them , but yet broad day light they see owner they call cops and officer try to arrest owner for nothing but lies they tell the cops…. what can be done …. how is higher then the county law……. please someone help us with answer….

Leave a Comment