Rental Regret

26 Mar

Letterbalm Room for Rent SignDear LetterBalm: My wife and I live in a big house that we own. We thought that renting out one of our bedrooms with a private bath would be a good way to make some extra cash. Little did we know what we were in for. It’s our own fault – we didn’t do due diligence by spelling out our conditions and terms, we didn’t vet prospective tenants, and we didn’t require a signed lease. We’ve ended up with a noisy, sloppy, belligerent tenant who has anger issues. I confess we’re actually frightened to ask him to leave, and we’re afraid to refuse his monthly rent payment. What can we say to him?  

–Trapped in Minnesota

You are in a tougher spot than any words Ms. L.B. can supply, especially because you don’t have a signed lease. You need to consult a lawyer specializing in landlord-tenant law, and you may need to take steps to protect yourselves after your tenant grudgingly leaves. (It’s pretty much guaranteed that he won’t go willingly.) Meanwhile, document all episodes of belligerence and any damage or messy conditions to your home – times, dates, details. Has anything gone missing? Has he made threats – what did he say exactly? Is he playing loud music? Inviting others to his room? Encroaching on other parts of your house? The attorney can explain your rights, and he or she can advise you if you can photograph your tenant’s room and bath when he’s not there for additional documentation. 

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