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Tenant filing false complaint to claim retaliation - Landlord Forum thread 199186

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Tenant filing false complaint to claim retaliation by Ryan (Wisconsin) on March 27, 2010 @23:14

Here's an interesting one I can't seem to find much documentation on.

My tenant has been a pain to deal with from day 1. I needed to rent my property in early winter and rather than let it sit empty, rented it out at a comparatively low rate on a 6 month lease (not something I normally do) with a month to month option at the end of 6 months. It was discussed at the time (but not in writing - shoot!) that rent would be increased at the end of the 6 months in order to bring rental rates in line with the area.

Mid winter we had a few problems with the furnace going out - it failed, called to get it fixed immediately, then it went down again a day or two later, again called to fix immediately. Unfortunately, this happened 4 times over a couple weeks. Tenants complained and refused to pay more than half months rent citing neglect, etc. (furnace was checked out before renting, and emergency maintenance was scheduled as soon as I received notice every time). In response, I sent 5 day pay or get out notice. They paid.

Now a month later, they filed a complaint with the building inspector about code violations. While I'm sure there might be a few minor things here or there, nothing major is wrong - my inspection is on Monday (the house was remodeled immediately before tenants moved in). Regardless, I was never given notice of any problems or any maintenance requests.

I don't believe it was a coincidence that this was filed only a couple days before I need to give notice of the rent increase for the end of their 6 month lease. They haven't mentioned landlord retaliation but they're very hostile and have been working with our tenant resource center so it won't surprise me when they do.

Is it still worth trying to raise rent? Will a judge see through it or did they win the game?

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Re: Tenant filing false complaint to claim retalia by George (CA) on March 27, 2010 @23:45 [ Reply ]
Put off making a decision until the building inspector comes. Let him see that you are working to correct any problems that may exist. If problems do exist, ask the inspector to give you some time and schedule a follow up. Then explain that he may get more calls because the tenant is trying to back you into a corner about the rent increase. Hopefully, the inspector will not bother you again.
If the inspector does not cite you with any violations it will let the air out of the tenant's retaliation claim. If a complaint is made, you can show that the rent was below market and explain your agreement to raise it in six months. If you do raise the rent, make it a little below market to show you are not retaliating but simply moving toward actual value.
Re: Tenant filing false complaint to claim retaliation by OK-LL on March 28, 2010 @09:44 [ Reply ]
I would provide a 30-day termination of lease, so they know they are out at the end of the lease. You don't want to continue dealing with these PITA tenants. Rather be empty than pestered.
Re: Tenant filing false complaint to claim retaliation by Ryan (Wisconsin) on March 28, 2010 @17:04 [ Reply ]
Thanks everyone for the suggestions!

While I've strongly considered kicking them out, there are a few reasons I've held back. I'm relatively new at this so tell me if I'm misguided.

They were homeowners but were foreclosed on when the husband lost his job - they are now renting a property well below the standard they were used to (source of the problems I think), but they have the ability to pay.

I'm fairly certain they understand if I file anything in court, they are screwed in terms of finding another place to live with both a foreclosure and eviction on record.

There are very few 3 br houses available in our area, and none that accept dogs which means they don't have a real alternative.

I am not a slumlord and believe I have been very accommodating to their initial demands (putting locks on the old garage, adding more insulation to the basement, etc.). However, since they've continued to push (they deducted the cost of mouse traps and caulk from a payment), I've pushed back and they pay up.

While I admit it can be a pain in the ass, I am on the right side of the law and know how to use it (well...I'll reserve judgement until Monday's inspection), and I'm getting timely payments.

So, put up with their complaints as long as rent is paid, or try to kick them out and risk a battle and no rental income?

Or am I naive to think keeping them in their will work out okay in the end?

Re: Tenant filing false complaint to claim retaliation by xxx on March 29, 2010 @11:15 [ Reply ]
you're going to have to toughen up if you want to stay in your business

once someone calls in the authorities on you, THEY HAVE TO GO, because it will only get worse

they have become a threat to your economic well being, and you have to deal with that by terminating their month-to-month lease

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