A small (3') spruce on rental property was injured by a tenant's
children. Basically, about 90% of the needles were torn off, and perhaps
15-20% of the smaller branches were broken.
I've replanted the tree in a safer spot, but other than pruning off the
obviously broken branches, I'm unsure what else I can do to nurse it
back to health. It's been very rainy in the upper midwest, which may be
helping or not; there is fresh green growth and some of the stripped
branches already have small buds appearing.
Anything better than benign neglect to suggest?
Did you have permission from your land lord to plant the tree in the first
Did you file a police report on the destruction?
Next step should be your making the parents of the brats pay for a
replacement. Maybe take them to people's court?
not consider setting up specific guide lines that the next tenant must sign
before being allowed to rent your property. We have friends who make their
living buying, repairing, and renting property, and I was totally amazed
what landlords are allowed by law to do such as background checks of
previous rental history and employment records, number of people allowed to
occupy a specific property, damage deposits, upkeep of yard, and rent
payment time frame before eviction. One provision in their contract was that
no more than three people (a man, a woman, and one child) was allowed in a
specific rental home. If a second child was born, they were automatically
evicted. My mouth dropped a bit, but I was informed that as long as the same
rules were applied to all, they had no problems. Check the legal aspects of
all this in your area before proceeding.
BTW, I was also informed that renters were given the opportunity to purchase
their rental homes if they desired, and almost half of the rented homes were
purchased when the tenants figured they could handle the house payments and
upkeep. This seemed to work as an incentive for keeping the property in good
I'm not advocating any of the above ideas, but it's something to think
Yep, we're on it. (I wasn't actually asking for rental advice, but I
suppose some readers may find it useful.) We're actually drafting a new
set of lease requirements. In Wisconsin, anything that involves a debit
from the security deposit must be on a separate sheet called
"Non-Standard Rental Provisions". Surprisingly (to some), this can be
just about anything. Smoking? No dice. More than two unrelated persons?
such as background checks of
Yup. In our state as long as you disclose that you're doing it to the
applicant you can perform a full background check -- credit, criminal,
employment. Eviction history (and even late payment history) is now
something that can follow you from city to city, for better or worse (as
a landlord I have one view; as a former tenant I have another).
You'd be astonished, though, at the number of people who can't seem to
dig up their last *two* landlords for the application, or who rent from
relatives (heck, that describes me, technically).
number of people allowed to
The main thing to keep in mind is avoiding discriminating against a
protected class. That can vary from state to state, but at the federal
level includes all the obvious ones. (In our state, battered women are a
protected class, so we have to tread carefully. The real problems with
this tenant stem from the abusive boyfriend.) Section 8 tenants have to
deal with certain requirements such as number of square feet per person.
We actually have multiple Section 8 tenants and as a class they aren't a
problem. Most either came with references or moved onto Section 8 while
already renting. It's the strangers that get you -- and that's where a
month-to-month agreement is crucial. In this case, she got a 12-month
lease when she shouldn't have (in retrospect, but there's a family
rumble over this), and that's the crux of the problem. At other times
we've evicted drug dealers (boyfriends of tenant) using a simple 30-day
Good point, and worth considering down the road, though it doesn't apply
in this case.
Yep. The tree damage was from the kid, not the tenant, and I tend to
write that off as more of an accident than anything serious. If I hadn't
been so busy I could have put up a screen or moved the tree earlier.
In most places it's pretty difficult to actually evict people who
don't want to go.
I have not rented for many years.. moved here in 1977.. and I heard
what friends had to go through in order to rent and was amazed, but I
heard they could check your credit, but couldn't refuse to rent to you
based on what it said, which seemed rather stupid. And you have to
pay for them to check your credit!
I don't have much of a house, and it's falling apart...but ..it's my
Well, you may have to go to court (if they don't get the message from
your eviction notices; many do), but if they haven't paid their rent or
can't (provably) abate the problem, they can certainly be legally
evicted. (In civil court, the landlord only must prove via
*preponderance of the evidence* rather than *beyond a reasonable doubt*
as in criminal courts.) As a last resort the sheriff can physically
In general, it's true that renters have protection from spurious
eviction, especially in larger cities, but in my experience most people
want to avoid the eviction process (not to mention the record) and would
rather come to an agreement or simply move.
Yes, in my state you are entitled to charge a fee for checking the
applicant's background. The landlord is entitled to recover costs of
checking out rejected applications. What you heard was probably mangled
urban legend; in 1977 privacy and discrimination protections were likely
much *less* than today. Heck, in 1977 there were cities with ordinances
(widely ignored, to be sure) blocking single mothers from renting.
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