Documenting lease breaches in order to evict a problem tenant
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Documenting lease breaches in order to evict a problem tenant

| Nov 2, 2020 | Landlord-Tenant Law |

When you have a problem tenant, not only can they cost you money by damaging your units or driving out other, reliable tenants with loud parties and bad behavior, but they can also engage in behaviors that increase the cost of providing housing, especially if you paid for certain services, like water or trash removal.

Behaviors like bringing unpermitted pets onto your property or allowing guests to stay for longer than you permit in your lease are not only a violation of the terms but also potential costs you have to cover.

If your lease has language that forbids pets, overnight stays or extra tenants, you can tell your tenants to stop the behavior and then evict them if they do not. In order to evict a tenant for breaching your lease contract, however, you will need evidence of their behavior, likely beyond just your word. How do you document the lease-breaking behavior of problem tenants?

A picture is worth a thousand words

Getting video or photographs of a lease violation will make it easy to demonstrate the issue to the court. If you already have security cameras in the common areas of a multi-unit building or outside of your property, you may have the documentation you need.

Video or photographs showing a tenant frequently returning home with a person who spends the night more than you permit in your lease is pretty clear-cut evidence. The same is true for images that show an animal clearly sitting in the window of your rental unit or a tenant leaving or entering the property with an animal.

If you don’t have security cameras, installing one now could help you gather evidence, provided that you install it in appropriate areas that do not infringe on the privacy rights of your tenants. You may also want to wait outside of your unit or even hire a private investigator to do so to prove a pattern of lease-breaking behavior. In some cases, notifying your tenant of an inspection and doing a walk-through can prove the presence of an animal or damage to the unit.

Keep a written record of individual violations

If the tenant doesn’t do something that is visibly evident, you may need to have written records to validate your concerns. Common examples of infractions that don’t produce photographic evidence could include parties, loud arguments or even becoming aggressive or violent toward other tenants.

When property managers, other tenants or neighbors bring issues to your attention, start keeping a written record so that you can show a pattern of behavior when you get your day in court.

As a landlord, evicting a tenant may be one of the most contentious and difficult things that you have to do. The right help and support during this process can protect you from making mistakes that could have legal and financial ramifications