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My Renter Stinks... Literally!
By Lisa Wells

We often receive questions on landlord management at Landlord2Landlord, and share our opinions and experience on the topic to protect other landlords from going through the same ordeal! Here's a common complaint below.

Q: I'm a Landlord/Owner of a single family home. My lease does not offer any utilities or Garbage service.  I recently found out my tenants were storing their trash inside the home! I addressed the issue only to now find they still had not obtained a sanitation service but they are now storing several old bags of trash outside the home under the deck. This also has been addressed but to no avail, the trash remains. I have now out of desperation paid out of my pocket for sanitation service but now THEY WONT TAKE THE TRASH TO THE CURB! Is there any recourse for me? This is a unique situation because as far as rent goes, they have paid on time every month since they've been there. What could I do about this? I've already sent two letters of warning and the renter has ignored both letters and my phone calls.

A: Unfortunately in this case, one man's trash is clearly NOT another man's treasure. Beyond the sanitary issues that trash accumulation can cause, garbage heaps on your property can cost you additional bills due to the resulting home damage, potential mold and mildew, and worse yet, a serious bug infestation. With that in mind, who cares if your renter pays the rent on time if they're literally "trashing" the place?!

Another landlord shared a great story on this topic recently. His renter wouldn't take the trash out either, preferring instead to store it in a leftover refrigerator box in the FRONT YARD. Half of the neighbors were complaining about the renter's lack of tidiness and the ensuing stench to the landlord, and soon after, the tenant abruptly moved out....after not paying his rent. As he was moving, with no notice, the landlord just happened to drive up to the house, and casually asked the renter if he planned on leaving his trash behind. The renter said, "Yes, why not?" as if it was assumed that was permissible.

Coincidentally, the renter's car had broken down, and a tow truck was en route to pick it up. The renter left the property before the truck arrived. My landlord friend rolled down the windows of the renter's car, calmly loaded all of the renter's trash into it, and rolled the windows back up. The tow truck driver was astonished when he arrived, but towed the car to the service shop as planned. 

A short time later, the landlord ran into his renter in the Home Depot, of all places. All the renter could say was....."Good one!"

I'm not recommending retaliatory action by any means, but if a renter or anyone else is trashing your real estate business, take out the garbage and find someone else who will take better care of your investment property! 

And, here are some tips to keep you from getting dumped on again by a less-than-tidy renter.

1. Modify your rental lease agreements to include a termination clause for failure to maintain the property.  Never rent without a lease, either! Visit the L2L members area for FREE access to leases and forms some of our members have used.

2. Screen your prospective tenants to review their criminal background, credit reports and evict


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