11 Replies Latest reply: Jun 9, 2012 7:34 PM by gabriel RSS

    What are my rights as a homeowner - renter hasn't paid?

    New Member

      I was contacted about a 7 month rental.  Since most of it was in my "off season" I was thrilled.  I did due diligence and checked on the renters.  If they are not legit, they were very good about covering it.  Besides checking background, I had several email and a few phone conversations with them, and all seemed good.


      They checked in 6/5 and paid the first month rent, security deposit and $39 insurance policy premium.  The contract stated they would pay monthly after that, and payment was to be received the 1st of the month, and no later than the 5th of the month.  It is now the 12th, and I haven't received payment.  I contacted them by email last week, and they said "the check was in the mail".  It has been 5 days since I contacted them, and no payment.  I tried to contact them multiple times the last two days, and no response to either calls or email.


      My son lives near the home, and he drove out and checked on it.  It is a townhome, so he couldn't really see much, but he said it didn't appear anyone was around.


      My question is...can I legally have my housekeeper/property manager check the home?  Can she enter the premises when it is rented out and under contract?  My contract doesn't state we have this right.


      Also, if they are there, and they don't pay, what process do we need to have them "evicted" for non payment?  I am considering having my husband fly down there as we have a maintenance item that needs to be done anyway.  But how would he handle this - would contacting law enforcement be necessary if it comes to that, or would this not fall under their responsibilities.


      I hope I am worried for no reason, and the check is just lost in the mail or something, but I am concerned they are not responding, and so I want to find out what should be done if necessary.


      Appreciate any comments or input from the experience of others.





        • What are my rights as a homeowner - renter hasn't paid?
          Senior Contributor

          It depends on the state your vaca home is in. Tenant/landlord laws vary from place to place. Eviction laws can be tricky. Most places require a Sheriff's help- to do it legally.


          That said, I'd think as the landlord, you have the right to enter the property. I'd check with local law enforcement .They should be able to offer some guidance.( Maybe they would be willing to accompany you when you enter). I'd make sure you have more than one person as a witness. Maybe video the whole process.)  


          Make sure you have a copy of the signed lease and all monies paid to date, in case you decide to make the trip. ( At least you'll be able to write off the trip expenses!)


          AND-- ADD that clause in your rental agreement. I just added a  Hold Harmless Clause to mine( that I found in these forums).  The tenant signs it and it gives me or my designated agent the right to enter the home for a variety of reasons.


          Good luck and let us know what happens!

            • Re: What are my rights as a homeowner - renter hasn't paid?
              New Member

              Thank you.


              The longer I go without receiving the check, and not having any response

              from them, the more nervouse I get.  Tomorrow is the day I am at least going

              to have my housekeeper go over there, knock on the door and see if anyone is

              in the home.  If there is no answer, I may have her enter the home and check

              it for me before I do anything further.


              I will be revising my contract to add language.  Do you know where you found

              the information you added?

              • What are my rights as a homeowner - renter hasn't paid?
                Senior Contributor

                To add to my previous response RE: MY AUTHORIZED AGENT. Here is what I have done.


                I have a property caretaker that I know well ( You could authorize your son, if he is close to the property). I typed up a document giving my caretaker full authority to act as my agent for a varity of issues -- authorizing emergency repairs,, conducting inspections, etc.. One of the clauses states as follows:


                Security Issues

                1. Has full authority to contact local law enforcement should any contracted renter/tenant breach the contractual agreement they have entered into.


                2. I authorize _____________ to sign any eviction notice, police report, etc. as deemed necessary.




                I simply had it notarized, and provided my caretaker with a copy.

              • What are my rights as a homeowner - renter hasn't paid?
                New Member

                As a footnote...


                Today the renters informed me "a personal situation has arisen and they will not use the condo for the length of the contract".  A note to others accepting a longer term rental.  Make sure to revise your contract wording to address this situation.  Their leaving will cause me considerable expense, and although my contract outlined the rental was through December 31, 2011, and what the payment was monthly, and when the payment had to be received by each month, it didn't specifically address what would happen if they backed out during the term of the contract.  I have language referring to "cancellations or changes that result in a shortened stay, that are made within sixty (60) days of the arrival date, forfeit the full advance payment and damage/reservation deposit.  Cancellation or early departure does not warrant any refund of rent or deposit"...


                This would protect me in a normal rental situation where I collected the money upfront before their arrival, but I don't know that it would protect me in a monthly payment situation.  I should have revised the language for this situation.


                Any one agree or disagree that I am out of luck on this?  Or have any suggestions for a resolution?


                I had to take the utilities off "vacation hold", and I can't put them back on, so I am out $150 per month for the phone/cable/internet until I start having winter rentals.  I have turned down rental inquiries already.  I had a pre-existing visit planned for myself and guests, and I rented another home because my home was not supposed to be available, so I am out that expense.  I will need to pay my housekeeper to go in and close everything up and get the home "summer" ready, which I had already paid her to "undo" for their stay.  I don't think their leaving without some compensation would be fair to me.  However, I don't think they are the type who will be considerate.

                  • What are my rights as a homeowner - renter hasn't paid?
                    Active Contributor

                    This is a very difficult situation and It's hard to know how you could have done anything more than you did.  Sadly, these people did not treat you well and I see no way to completely recoup your losses.


                    However (and this may sound crazy and flippant, but I mean it to be a note of encouragement) I predict you will have a wonderful vacation in someone else's home!  We had booked our airfare and the same day our rental manager had taken a 4 day reservation during our 3 week time in our house.  We ended up renting a neighboring house and having a "real" vacation at our locale for the first time in years -- no maintenance, no worries!  It reminded us of why we had purchased a home there in the first place.


                    I hope things settle down and that you have a wonderful time.  And maybe you can get a last-minute rental!

                  • Re: What are my rights as a homeowner - renter hasn't paid?

                    I know I am replying to this thread late, but for this very reason, I have decided I will not do month-to-month rentals.  I routinely get renters who come for 3 months and they are required to pay in full for the entire 3 months BEFORE they check in.  I have had a few leave early and they do not get a refund and I have had a few ask to extend and again, I required payment up front as soon as they made the request.


                    However, I don't know what I would do if someone refused to leave after their time was up.  This is even more problematic because I often have back-to-back bookings, so if someone were to not leave, I'm not sure what I could do.  However I do state very specifically in the contract what time they must check out because a cleaning crew will be arriving.  It sure would be interesting to have my cleaning crew show up and start cleaning if people were still there.


                    Are the laws different at all for vacation rentals?  What do hotels do if someone refuses to leave?

                      • Re: What are my rights as a homeowner - renter hasn't paid?

                        I figured it might be useful to revisit a  response written in reply to a question posted by a fellow homeowner who was having serious problems with a barking dog, and even more with the hard-headed owner: When can I make a guest leave?  Her situation was different from yours, in that the guest had paid for the time period, but was making life insufferable.  The question she asked, however, is the same as yours.  Here are some thoughts I then offered her, relevant to your situation:


                        Sorry to hear about your "dog" of a tenant.  I... first want to strongly encourage you to at least consider  taking action, A,S.A.P.


                        To do so, it might be helpful to have a bit more  information on what  your rights might actually be.  While my opinion is  only that, I am an  attorney, and during my own ordeal did some  research  and spoke with  police to evaluate my options.


                        On a personal level: as stressful as you might find  the idea of confrontation (and I fully  understand and empathize,  believe me), my experience has taught  me that,in the long run, going  through with it might wind up inflicting less damage than failing to  stand  up for yourself, and allowing this guest to disrespect you and  your  neighbors.


                        Just take stock of yourself, and ask yourself honestly if  the situation will leave you angry long after the guest has moved on to  her next victim.  Everyone is different, and your life is your own.  So  I would never presume to speak in terms of what you MUST, or even should do. Rather, I offer a few thoughts so you might better understand the  range of options at hand, and what your basic rights may be. Bottom  line: my focus is upon your basic question,When can I make a guest leave?  And the answer is, whenever you decide to, and are ready to follow through.


                        Oh, and also to offer this always-needed reassurance: You are not alone. Do hang in there.



                        Now, about your rights: you do NOT simply have to put up with it.   I learned that our "transient rental" situation is not to be confused  with traditional home occupancy in this important sense: the latter  requires court involvement and a formal eviction proceeding to get them out.



                        Our situation is different, and so is the “bundle of rights" at our disposal.  In the eyes of the law we are more like operators of a hotel, or  even for that matter a restaurant, that (as you'd imagine) can, if  necessary, simply call the police and say "These people are trespassing,  they have been put on notice, and they need to LEAVE." A home  resident's right of occupancy depends upon a lease or rental agreement,  which can be enforced only through a court of law.  The right of a guest  to remain in a transient rental, in contrast, depends strictly upon   their abiding by the stated "rules of the house."  If they do not, they have become "trespassers," and you have the right to put them on  notice of such, and ask them to leave. 


                        (Note, too, that we are certainly deserving of some privileges,  as traditional landlords need not collect or remit State and County sales taxes on rental proceeds each month, and we do.)



                        I'm not suggesting that you necessarily should pull out  the heaviest artillery first, for a number of reasons.  Some people  just aren't thinking, and the experience might be redeemable.  By all  means, see if you can work it out.  Offer another solution first, if  possible.  And, always try your level best not to act in anger. 


                        PS  I like the idea of the msdebj’s Power of Attorney, but I’d be wary of even making reference to the word “eviction,” for fear of confusing a transient stay with a more formal leasehold interest.  I would use the word “removal” instead, perhaps.