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Can we sue tenants for damages to us - abusive by Mary (Calif) on December 1, 2009 @19:38

                              
Our tenants in a house on the next block from our home have been abusive for over a month because I required a application and written agreement to the house rules. I was clear the new tenant would be exempt from the one year lease that the other tenants are 4 months into. The lease agreement is very clear about moving others in.
Then on Thanksgiving eve they sent over the filled out crumpled application and signed agreement, with notices of all kinds of problems with the house, with all the "pursuant to Civil Code ... and habitabilty" partial quotes. Among all the complaints were a bunch of fire hazards that sounded pretty extreme in the notice, "carbon monoxide poisoning from unvented kitchen stove, fire hazards and huge code violations regarding the furnace", and that the gas company had been called by them over a month ago about carbon monoxide poisoning and that the water heater had been red tagged and the gas turned off -not to be turned on again except by the gas company! The renters would not answer the phone nor knocking on door so we could get in to check the stated problems and see if there really was fire danger. We were beside ourselves picturing that beautiful house go up in smoke, so we had to cancel our vacation for the 3 days after Thanksgiving to the first real family reunion of our family where we would have met some of our great-grandchildren for the 1st time. That trip had been planned for a year, and airline tickets were non-refundable as was the lodge, and the restaraunt we had rented for dinner for 35 people (short notice). Almost $2000 for a fantastic trip we didn't even get to take. The renters also know that I have a rare very agressive cancer that I've been able to control for almost 2 years now, partly by keeping stress levels very low. Now one of my tumours is growing out of control from the stress of the believed fire situation and not having access to do anything about it, and not going on that trip, along with all the anger from our whole family about why we couldn't come especially since we are the ones that arranged and paid for the get-together figuring it might be our last trip to see them.
The day after Thanksgiving we repaired the water heater, (one vent opening was 1/2" too small and it needed another vent on the outdoor enclosure) and when the gas company came back out to inspect again and turn it on they tested carbon monoxide (extremely low levels) and were clear that all the gas appliances in that house were fine and there was no fire hazard. The tenants had knowingly lied about all these dangers, since when they'd had the gas co. come that is what was found then. Carbon monoxide levels and gas appliances have all been checked out by the gas co. twice in a 1 1/2 month space.
Can we sue the tenants for damages? The money we lost from that trip is directly from their ploy, and I don't even know what to say about the cancer. I know we would have to hire an attorney if we sue, but I'm anxious for some preliminary info from you folks.
Thanks so much in advance, Mary
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Re: Can we sue tenants for damages to us - abusive by Ultimate M-Bone on December 1, 2009 @20:14 [ Reply ]
Sounds like royal PITA tenants to me, they are not on a lease are they? If not, I would give them your State required (usually 30 day) notice to vacate. Get rid of them before they cause you more problems. That should be your first plan of action and then file a civil suit against them. You know the old saying "you can sue anyone for any reason" doesn't mean you will win, nor will you likely be able to collect from them if you do win.

You should have taken that trip anyway and then dealt with the tenant issues later, since you were only going to be gone for 3 days and they refuse to come to the door when you showed up to make attempts to remedy the "problems".

Re: Can we sue tenants for damages to us - abusive by LL from (CA) on December 1, 2009 @23:01 [ Reply ]
Mary:

what part of California are you in?
I have similar tenants. We thought that these tenants would be good long term tenants but since the day they moved in, we've had nothing but threats from them.
They take every little problem and make it seem like a life-threatening situation! For every problem, they would tell us that if they took the situation to court, the judge will be on their side!

When we finally decided to evict them, they send out a nasty letter stating all kinds of codes and habitability lies!

Can't believe such evil people exists!

Re: Can we sue tenants for damages to us - abusive by OK-LL on December 1, 2009 @23:22 [ Reply ]
Mary, you need to be a better LL and you'll get better tenants. You don't have to wait for permission to enter your own property -- the law allows for notice and entry to make repairs. You should not have cancelled your trip -- if the house burned down while you're gone, your insurance should cover replacement cost and if it doesn't burn, you can take care of the problems after you get back -- 3 days is not a lifetime to wait for even a critical repair.

Get tough with these tenants or they will run you ragged.

I doubt you can win a suit for damages caused because you believed their lies and didn't take the steps allowed by law to determine for yourself the condition of your property.

See an attorney and get these folks out of your property.

Re: Can we sue tenants for damages to us - abusive by OK-LL on December 2, 2009 @00:08 [ Reply ]
Mary, I just wanted to add, something was bothering me about your OP. I figured it out -- you want to sue the tenants for causing you stress which exacerbated your cancer. But it isn't the stress that's affecting your cancer, it's how you handle the stress. You need to take responsibility for your reaction to the stress. As a LL, you can be and frequently are in a high-stress job. You need to discover and employ stress-reducing techniques to your advantage. No one's life is stress-free, we simply have to learn to handle it so it doesn't kill us.
Re: Can we sue tenants for damages to us - abusive by Anonymous on December 2, 2009 @09:03 [ Reply ]
I would simply have entered the house due to the perceived emergency situation (which you had outlined in black and white in that repair notice). No heat, no hot water, carbon monoxide - these are emergencies and do not require notice to permission to enter. Simply use your own key to enter, knock and yell loudly upon entry "LANDLORD! I'M HERE TO CHECK THE EMERGENCY!" and check out the listed items. Then leave notice for the tenant of why you entered (outlining the emergency) and what measures are being taken to remediate those problems. You could than have hired the plumber to correct the gas problems on Friday morning and left on your trip.

Learn to say no, screen better, maintain composure, and manage your stress. Hope you can reduce the stress level and get your health back under control.

Re: Can we sue tenants for damages to us - abusive by RJH (WA) on May 6, 2010 @22:26 [ Reply ]
All this talk about you having to forgo going to see your grandchildren and missing the family reunion ISA bunch of bunk. Really, you were only going to be gone for three days. Really, and you said you couldn't reach them at home. Maybe they were gone on vacation. Your sad pathetic victim story is bunk. If your that skitterish then you shouldn't be renting out a house.
Stupid stupid stupid. Sounds like they need to be suing you for housing code violations and not providing them with a home free of defects.
Sad, sad, sad, woman.
Re: Can we sue tenants for damages to us - abusive by Jason (ca) on January 8, 2012 @19:08 [ Reply ]
Take some free advise. If you really are having so many problems with people you exacerbate your medical condition then you really need to stop being a landlord. Renting housing is a business and can really get you in a lot of hot water if you are not able to handle the responsibility. Sell your house, live in it but whatever you do stop renting it before the city closes it down.

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