“Help! My Tenant is Harassing Me”

Unfortunately, no matter how thorough your screening process may be, bad tenants have a way of making their way into your rental unit. If you’re tenant is harassing you or intimidating you, make sure to handle the situation properly.

What is Considered Harassment?

There are many ways a tenant can harass a landlord. It is not uncommon for landlords to reside in the same area as their tenants, so they may interact from time to time. For this reason, tenants may sometimes cause disturbances and negatively impact the living environment, violating the covenant of quiet enjoyment. Harassment does not simply mean “verbal abuse,” it can also mean a tenant is disrupting a landlord’s life.

The tenant may also be more inclined to knock on your door for every minor inconvenience, affecting your personal life and constitutes as harassment. When a tenant just won’t leave you alone and is a constant nuisance, you may have grounds to evict them. In addition, a lot of times, tenants will try to “get even” with their landlords by threatening to withhold rent, keeping a security deposit, breaking the lease, or filing a lawsuit. Here are some common examples of harassment by tenants:

  • A tenant refuses to pay rent and claims repair issues or uninhabitable living conditions.
  • The landlord constantly receives noise complaints about a tenant.
  • A tenant frequently sends the landlord threatening emails or texts to their landlord.
  • Suddenly, a tenant shows up to their landlord’s home to make complaints or confront them.
  • A tenant assaults their landlord.
  • A tenant threatens to sue the landlord (i.e. the tenant sues you for repair costs when they’re the ones who made the damage).

What to Do

If a tenant is genuinely harassing you or interfering with your life, you have every right to evict them. The same eviction process applies for every situation. First, you should give the tenant proper notice, usually 30 days, depending on your state laws, and make sure they move out on time. If you want your tenant out now, you can consider a few options to get them to leave.

There is also the chance that your tenant wants to sue you for something minor or untrue. As mentioned before, a tenant may cause damage to the rental and then sue you for uninhabitable living conditions. If this is the case, make sure to contact an attorney and discuss the matter with them. A lot of times, tenants are just trying to intimidate the landlord and they don’t really have a lawyer.

If you don’t want to evict the tenant or they are sending you empty threats, try talking to them about the situation. It’s important to build a good tenant-landlord relationship so that your rental business can succeed. However, you also have the option of telling the tenant to stop contacting you and to only send requests for maintenance or rental-related questions in writing. This way, you won’t have to communicate directly and you can keep the tenancy until the lease is up. Just always make sure that your property isn’t being damaged and you are receiving rent.

If the harassment from your tenant persists, or you begin to fear for your safety or the safety of others, report the situation to the police. You may also have grounds to sue the tenant yourself.