PDA

View Full Version : Can a tenant live in my rental property without power or water?



Deborahkd7
Feb 19, 2011, 05:54 PM
I have rental property, the tenant moved out at the end of May 2010 and I turned on the power and water in my name to comtrol the temp in the home. I discussed renting my house to a couple back in September 2010 but they never committed to a date when they would move in. On December 20th a utilities bill was issued and much higher than normal. I found out they had moved into my home without permission or notifying me. On 12/21 they had deposited the final amount required for the security deposit we had discussed and when I FINALLY got them to call me back, they promised to pay the full rent amount for Dec and Jan plus reimburse me for the utilities they used and transfer the utilities into their name. They kept assureing me this would be taken care of and pushing the promise date out. I had to turn my utilities off because I could no longer afford to pay the bill because it was so high. They are still in my house with no utilities and have not paid any utilities and only given ma $600.00 towards the December rent. So they owe me $100. For Dec rent plus the full amount of the Jan, Feb rent and utilities for Dec, Jan & Feb. In Florida, is it legal for them to live in my house without any utilities?

cdad
Feb 19, 2011, 05:58 PM
From the sounds of it your going to want to start the eviction process right away. So look to your contract for the answers on utilities and also for upkeep of the rental. When no utilities are on the place can quickly become a fire hazzard.

Fr_Chuck
Feb 19, 2011, 06:00 PM
First all sorts of issues and you are going to think poor or me but I am going to tell you some facts of life.

Unless you are operating a charity, you need to run a rental as a business.

The minute you found them living in your home without permission, that means they broke in and just moved in. And were tresspassing, and you needed to call the police.

Next, sorry no promises, you give them a date to have things done, and things paid.

So you needed to start eviction procedures months ago

*** now another issue, you can't legally turn off the power to the home, since you after you found them there, allowed them to stay with you paying the power and then paying you back. So you are required by law to leave the power on, till you evict them.

Of course they are not going to pay you back for all of that costs. They will leave in the middle of the night at some point, most likely taking anything in your home, maybe even the copper out of the walls.

You are not taking this rental as a serious business. And this is going to cost you 1000's of dollars as a serious lesson

Deborahkd7
Feb 19, 2011, 06:01 PM
There is no lease or contract. I never even knew they had decided to rent or when they moved in. They moved in without permission or my knowledge. I have to drive 2 states away in a couple of days to file the evction papers. Is there any way the city can make them get out due to uninhabitable condition?

joypulv
Feb 19, 2011, 06:05 PM
'On 12/21 they had deposited the final amount required for the security deposit we had discussed '

How did they deposit money without some sort of agreement and a deposit slip or your bank account number?? This story at first sounds like Pacific Heights the movie, but something is missing.

Deborahkd7
Feb 19, 2011, 06:08 PM
There is no contract, They never notified me they were going to ren the place or that they were moving in. The girl helped my cleaning lady and had a key to the house and just moved in one day.

Fr_Chuck
Feb 19, 2011, 06:16 PM
The day you found them is when the police should have been called, but that is too late now.

Next you see the issue of having a rental 2 states away, hire a management company or rental company to take care of it at this point, you can not take care of a property 2 states away.

But no you will have to evict them at this point. And yes the city and the renters can sue you for turning off their power. In fact expect at the eviction, them to ask for it to be turned back on till they are evicted ** they can make you do it,

Deborahkd7
Feb 19, 2011, 06:28 PM
I set up an account and gave her the account number and told her when she was ready to rent to notify me and I would send her the rental contract to be signed and returned to me and for her first month she needed to deposit a total off $140.00 for the $700. Security deposit and $700. For the 1st months rent and trans the utilities into her name. She never notified me when she would move in or that she had. I found out when I got my utility bill in late December. It took me a while to reach her but finalloy she returned my call and confirmed they had moved in and promised to deposit the remaining funds for the security deposit and Jan rent on Jan 1st. That never happened then On 1/14 she claimed to have filed her taxes and would pay everything on Feb 1st and I finally reached her on Feb 10th and of course got another sob story and she promised she was depositing all the money including the Feb rent and 3 months advance rent payments but all she deposited was $600. Insteas of the $2881.

Sorry, first month she was to deposit $1400. Not $14.00

{Comments Merged}

Deborahkd7
Feb 19, 2011, 06:41 PM
I am so over being a landlord. Laws protect the dishonest people and tenants not the landlord or property owner. As soon as probate is setteled, I am selling even if I do have to pay the IRS for taxes on it. After 16 years of renting the house, I never encountered people like this. Chuck, Thank you for the advise.

ScottGem
Feb 19, 2011, 06:46 PM
There is no lease or contract. I never even knew they had decided to rent or when they moved in. They moved in without premission or my knowledge. I have to drive 2 states away in a couple of days to file the evction papers. Is there any way the city can make them get out due to uninhabitable condition?

Boy are you na´ve. You haven't really been paying attention to what you are being told. If there is an uninhabitable condition YOU will be the one getting in trouble, they will be the victims. By turning off the utilities you could be sued for an illegal eviction. So you really need to get the utilities turned back on.

As Chuck said, as soon as you found them in the house, you should have called the police and had them removed as trespassers. But you didn't. Did it ever occur to you that people who would break into the property are not very honest and would not make good tenants?

So now you have screwed up by letting them get established as tenants. You need to serve them with a pay or quit notice (I think its 3 days in Fl) You should hire a mgmt company or atty locally to handle this for you. If they don't pay by the deadline start evictions proceedings immediately.

You are lucky you got any money out of them. The likelihood is they will drag the eviction out as long as they can, then steal away in the middle of the night leaving your property trashed.

cdad
Feb 19, 2011, 06:46 PM
Did you advertise the rental in the newspaper ? Do you have a copy of the ad? The reason Im asking is because as of right now everything is verbal at this point. And in court you can waste a lot of time on he said / she said. At least with the ad you have some documentation of amounts to be paid etc.

Deborahkd7
Feb 19, 2011, 07:13 PM
No I did not advertise. The woman was a friend of my sister-in-law and everything was discussed verbaly through my Sister-in-law. Because she was a friend, I even dropped the rent from $850. To $700.00 a month to help this person out so she could start saving a down payment to buy the house when I put it on the market in a year or so. So only my sister-in-law can verify the amounts agreeded upon for the rent and that she too tried to get her to commit to a date she would begin renting the house and she would not make a commitment to my sister-in-law nor myself. I was waiting for her to make the commitment to draw up a contract.

Deborahkd7
Feb 19, 2011, 07:26 PM
OMG, this is bad. I'll be contacting an attorney ASAP and on my way to FL. You are correct, I am na´ve about all this and will be getting a realestate management company to handle this until I can get it sold. Thank you.

AK lawyer
Feb 19, 2011, 08:12 PM
... By turning off the utilities you could be sued for an illegal eviction. ...

In theory, yes. But there is a difference between turning off the utilities for the purpose of ousting unwanted tenants and allowing the power company to turn off the power because you don't have the money to pay the power company. Especially when the lack of funds stems from the tenants' failure to keep their promises.

I see that OP is still looking for an answer to the question about whether there is "any way the city can make them get out due to uninhabitable condition?" Perhaps. Ask the city but be prepared to be fined by the city for allowing tenants to live in this condition. The better course would be, as the others have said, to evict these folks ASAP.

Deborahkd7
Feb 19, 2011, 08:27 PM
Yes. I could no longer afford to pay the uilities without funds fron the tenant. That is why they were shut off.

ScottGem
Feb 20, 2011, 05:50 AM
First, if you have follow-up questions or info please use the Answer options at the bottom of the page not the Comments.

I don't think it will matter to a court whether the utilities were shut off for non payment or stopped. The court will look only that an uninhabitable condition was created.

AK lawyer
Feb 20, 2011, 06:31 AM
First, if you have followup questions or info please use the Answer options at the bottom of the page not the Comments.

I don't think it will matter to a court whether the utilities were shut off for non payment or stopped. The court will look only that an uninhabitable condition was created.

Perhaps. Depends on the wording of the statue, which in turn depends on which state this is in.

ScottGem
Feb 20, 2011, 07:03 AM
Florida 83.51 is a little unclear. I believe it would require the landlord to maintain "5. Functioning facilities for heat during winter, running water, and hot water."

excon
Feb 20, 2011, 07:12 AM
Hello D:

There was mention of the movie "Pacific Heights", but only in passing... It's clear that you haven't seen it. I'd rent it TODAY.

excon

AK lawyer
Feb 20, 2011, 09:22 AM
Florida 83.51 is a little unclear. I believe it would require the landlord to maintain "5. Functioning facilities for heat during winter, running water, and hot water."

I didn't see that the state is Florida, but I see it now.. This would be the applicable section:


"83.67 Prohibited practices.—(1) A landlord of any dwelling unit governed by this part shall not cause, directly or indirectly, the termination or interruption of any utility service furnished the tenant, including, but not limited to, water, heat, light, electricity, gas, elevator, garbage collection, or refrigeration, whether or not the utility service is under the control of, or payment is made by, the landlord.
...
(6) A landlord who violates any provision of this section shall be liable to the tenant for actual and consequential damages or 3 months’ rent, whichever is greater, and costs, including attorney’s fees. Subsequent or repeated violations that are not contemporaneous with the initial violation shall be subject to separate awards of damages."

I guess I agree, SG, that OP is treading very close to the edge here. One could still argue that OP is not causing termination if he simply doesn't have the funds to continue utility service. But a judge very well might not buy that argument.

ScottGem
Feb 20, 2011, 10:18 AM
So Deborah, you do not want to involve the city because shutting off the utilities violated the law.

Bottom line on Tuesday you need to serve them a 3-day pay or quit notice. The 3 days will be Wed, Thu & Fri. If they are not out on Friday or they have not paid you in full. Then Monday morning you file for an eviction order. In the mean time I would advise you to restore the utilities.

The one saving grace here is that your sister-in-law supposedly knows this person. This means your s-i-l may know where she works or know people who know her. So you may have a chance when you sue her for back rent and damages.