Real Estate and Life in Colorado and Beyond

Evicting the Tenant from Hell

Obviously this is my side of the story.  The TFH might have a differing account.

It started in February.  A long-time tenant in my three-unit “triplex” apartment building announced his family’s impending departure. I was sorry to see them go. The unit was vacated, cleaned, and posted for rent on Zillow.

The response rate was good—at least 20 inquiries. I showed it to three or four applicants. By all appearances they looked great. Well employed, seemingly trustworthy. But for individual reasons they all declined.

Then came the one I now think of as the Tenant From Hell. They talked a good game. (I’m obscuring gender identity.) They owned a house cleaning business.  Drove a Mercedes.  A background and credit check produced no red flags.

On April 5, we signed a lease agreement to begin April 15. The place was vacant and they asked if they could move a few personal items in early. Foolishly, I said yes and provided the code to a lockbox containing the house key.

Two days later, the key was missing. Not only had they moved their stuff in. They fully moved in, a week ahead of the start date. It was annoying but I let it go.

A junky discarded couch appeared in the alley along with an array of uncontained trash. They admitted to having dumped the couch. “I didn’t know what else to do with it,” they said. I paid a guy $100 to haul it all away. Soon came another explosion of trash from the same tenant.

I visited the apartment on April 20. It looked like a hoarder house with clothes and boxes and loose papers strewn everywhere. I reminded them of a provision in our lease. Within three days, the tenant must open a utilities account with Xcel Energy.

“It’s done,” they assured me. Couple of days later, I checked with Xcel. It was not done. Eventually they opened the account.

I needed to service the furnace, which is inside of the apartment. In a text, I announced my plan to enter on the followin day with an HVAC technician.. I reminded them again on the morning of the service, and again when we arrived.

I knocked twice, loudly. No response. I began to unlock the door and was greeted by a tattooed dude who looked like an escaped convict.  He cussed us out for attempting to let ourselves in, as two dogs barked wildly.

The TFH appeared, having just risen out of bed.  It was 11 am. We did our repair and left.

The following weeks were marked with several late night screaming matches, reported by a trusted tenant in the building.  Each time, they denied anything had happened.

There was middle-of-the-night police incident in front of the house involving their “friend.” I’m guessing it was Tattoo Man. They said it was a routine traffic stop.

Their first full month’s rent payment was 18 days late. The TFH told me their bank account had been hacked. Apologizing, they said the missing funds would be returned by her bank in a day or two.

When they finally paid some rent, it was half the amount due. The other half came later from a charitable organization, along with a W-9 form for me to report the taxable income.

With June approaching, I had had enough. I hired a landlord friendly law firm to discuss termination of the lease.

Our lease agreement is “month to month.”  It says either party may terminate with 30 days of notice to the other.

Colorado has adopted many tenant-friendly laws in recent years, making life much tougher for landlords. But my 30-day-notice provision is legal and enforceable, said my attorney.

To terminate on July 1, I would need to serve a written notice to the tenant twice, on separate days, before June 1. Such steps are mandated by state law.

I completed the required form and hustled to deliver it on May 30. The TFH wasn’t home, said their 10-year-old daughter. I thanked the girl and taped the notice outside their door.

The tenant responded with texts promising to “take you to court.” They accused me of entering the apartment improperly, violating their family’s privacy, and endangering their daughter. (I had not entered—it was unnecessary. My alternative was simply to post the notice on the door.)

I made a second, required notification attempt on May 31. I posted another notice. The lease term will now end on July 1. If the TFH refuses to leave (a likely event) it’s eviction time.

As a landlord I try to be fair and forgiving, in an economic climate that’s tough for tenants. But when they lie to me, resist my clearly expressed entry plans, cause neighborhood disturbances and dump trash in the alley, it is time to fight back.

Such are the joys of landlording in tenant-friendly Colorado. I rest my case.



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