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What can go wrong? Update in #149


38carrots

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We just signed a lease with tenants for our rental unit. DH was there by himself, and those are the facts that he came home with:

 

1. They didn't   bring the security deposit in cash (or any form) despite me telling them via email (twice) that the lease signing was conditional on them bringing the deposit.

2. They brough only 4 post dated checkes.

3. DH gave them the keys.

4. DH told them they could start moving in their belongings BEFORE the move in date (Feb 15).

5. They told him that they will pay the deposit and first month rent on Feb 16.

 

My worry is that they will move in before Feb 15, won't pay rent / deposit and we'll have to somehow evict them, which won't be easy and might take months.

 

But realistically speaking, are we in a worse situation as compared to doing things in a more formal way, giving them the keys on the 15th, in exchange for the deposit and checks?

 

 

Edited by 38carrots
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Yikes......... I'd probably insist that hubby get the keys back until the deposit and rent has been paid. Even if it means staking out the property.

 

DH doesn't see what can go wrong. I can't convince him.

 

I would've felt MUCH better if those people actually told me that they couldn't bring the deposit. We are softies, we probably would have still signed. But the fact that they knew that we wanted the deposit, and they were deceitful about it, makes me think that they'll be walking all over us and not paying on time (if at all)...

 

I'm thinking to email them and state that they can't move in and that I need the keys back as I have a friend staying there until the 15th.

 

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Do you know these people?  Have you done any background checks on them?  Do they have good references? If they don't have the deposit, I would either insist on getting the keys back until it's paid or I would consider spending the money on new locks and not give them the keys until it's paid.  Seriously.  I've known people who couldn't evict non-paying tenants for months, by which time their property was trashed.

 

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We are landlords and wouldn't give anyone keys without the deposit and first month's rent. I've never taken nor given post dated checks, though. 

 

I really don't know what got into him, I couldn't believe it when he came home. He's been under a lot of stress at work. I kept asking him how come he gave them the keys without the deposit, and he said that he didn't remember. :confused1:

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Do you know these people?  Have you done any background checks on them?  Do they have good references? If they don't have the deposit, I would either insist on getting the keys back until it's paid or I would consider spending the money on new locks and not give them the keys until it's paid.  Seriously.  I've known people who couldn't evict non-paying tenants for months, by which time their property was trashed.

 

The references were okay. No, we don't know them. The employer was her sister, and she works there as a temp. Her partner is currently on disability.

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If references were okay, it's probably going to be fine.  People don't generally turn into non-paying flakes overnight, KWIM?  Maybe she just doesn't get paid until the 15th.

 

ETA:  Okay, that idea lasted about a minute.  I would still probably change the locks unless they can come up with the deposit and rent, if for no other reason than to keep myself calm. 

 

 

Edited by klmama
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As you should be. I would get a locksmith over there ASAP.

 

Your husband has lost his mind.

 

So my plan is to email them with this:

 

Dear C,

 

I'm sorry for the inconvenience, but I will need the keys from the apartment back by tonight. Please do not move in any of your belongings. My friend will be staying in the apartment from Feb 9 to Feb 14.

<<<

 

Is this good?

 

And if they don't reply, I will change the locks, but oh my, I can't really afford changing the locks now.

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I would change the locks, and ask an expert if you can cancel the lease until they provide both the deposit and rent. Seriously.  You can change out the door knobs in 15 minutes each for under $100 (just buy the same kind you already have so all the holes match up.  Then if you decide to release the keys to them, you can just switch them back to the ones you have already given them keys for.  

 

I am sorry. There are HUGE red flags all over this situation. 

 

The sister is the employer?  Did you see a tax form to confirm this? Did you see check stubs with taxes paid?  

They don't have the deposit now....so what makes it possible for them to have that, PLUS the 1st months rent on the 16th?  That means that their entire paychecks are paying both security and rent.  They have zero savings. 

 

This doesn't mean they are not reputable people, many upstanding people live hand to mouth.  But, she is a temp....that works for her sister?  Really?  If they have no savings, and the temp work doesn't come that month, where is the rent coming from?

 

Have you driven by the current location they live to see what the apartment/house looks like from the outside?  I would be very very Leary of this situation. 

 

My parents and ILs were all landlords and situation would have never flown with any of them.

 

 

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So my plan is to email them with this:

 

Dear C,

 

I'm sorry for the inconvenience, but I will need the keys from the apartment back by tonight. Please do not move in any of your belongings. My friend will be staying in the apartment from Feb 9 to Feb 14.

<<<

 

Is this good?

 

And if they don't reply, I will change the locks, but oh my, I can't really afford changing the locks now.

 

You can't afford not to change the locks. If they move in, depending on your state, it could take a long time and a court process to get them out. Is there anyway you can sell this property? If you can't afford to change locks, being landlords is going to be a great burden to you.

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Our tenants are all wrong on paper. My husband didn't follow our normal protocol. I questioned him a few times about what he was doing. He just felt led to work with them and trust them.

 

At this point the people have been renting for a year, caring for the home beautifully, and faithfully paying rent.

 

I hope it works out as well for you.

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What kind of references did they have?  Just the sister that employs the one that is working?  Or previous landlords?  Were they related, too?

 

One previous landlord, but they stayed there for 10 years. The landlord sounded trustworthy, said they were good tenants, very clean and paid on time except a couple of times (but then gave a warning and were apologetic.)

 

I appreciated the sister was honest, she didn't have to say she was her sister. The sister is the office manager, and the tenant is a temp there at the reception, but only since fall. In a legal office.

 

Is this reassuring? We are really not that great at being landlords.

Edited by 38carrots
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Our tenants are all wrong on paper. My husband didn't follow our normal protocol. I questioned him a few times about what he was doing. He just felt led to work with them and trust them.

 

At this point the people have been renting for a year, caring for the home beautifully, and faithfully paying rent.

 

I hope it works out as well for you.

 

Thank you. I hope so too, but I worry. I remember how hard it was to rent  a place when we had a dog and were young renters, so when we rent our apartment, we are mindful of this. We rent to people with pets, and we had a self employed person, and people who didn't have any references. Some of those worked out, one didn't.

 

I think DH is thinking that if they were planning not to pay, they wouldn't pay anyway. I'm thinking that they have no insentive to even not to change their minds, as they haven't paid anything...

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I would be flipping out. They could be the nicest people in the world and no, I would not let them get their foot in the door without a deposit.

 

ETA: If their plan is not to pay, at least you get a deposit...something...instead of nothing.

Edited by JodiSue
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We are landlords. This sounds very bad. Change the locks and do not let them move in until they give you the first month's rent AND the security deposit. Did you have a background check done? Are you sure the landlord you talked to was really a landlord and not a friend or relative of theirs posing as a landlord? The fact that they had NO MONEY to give you is a BIG RED FLAG. I try to be a nice person, but if you are a landlord you cannot be a softie with your tenants. You should be business like, courteous, fair, and do your homework. I use the application fee I charge to pay for a company to do a background check. I learned the hard way that this is very important.

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My husband is a realtor and does property management and this has the potential to be a bad situation. Like someone else said, you cannot afford to not change the locks and you need to deal with prospective tenants if your husband can't handle it. First months rent and deposit is a must!

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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We are landlords. This sounds very bad. Change the locks and do not let them move in until they give you the first month's rent AND the security deposit. Did you have a background check done? Are you sure the landlord you talked to was really a landlord and not a friend or relative of theirs posing as a landlord? The fact that they had NO MONEY to give you is a BIG RED FLAG. I try to be a nice person, but if you are a landlord you cannot be a softie with your tenants. You should be business like, courteous, fair, and do your homework. I use the application fee I charge to pay for a company to do a background check. I learned the hard way that this is very important.

We just signed a lease with tenants for our rental unit. DH was there by himself, and those are the facts that he came home with:

 

1. They didn't bring the security deposit in cash (or any form) despite me telling them via email (twice) that the lease signing was conditional on them bringing the deposit.

2. They brough only 4 post dated checkes.

3. DH gave them the keys.

4. DH told them they could start moving in their belongings BEFORE the move in date (Feb 15).

5. They told him that they will pay the deposit and first month rent on Feb 16.

 

My worry is that they will move in before Feb 15, won't pay rent / deposit and we'll have to somehow evict them, which won't be easy and might take months.

 

But realistically speaking, are we in a worse situation as compared to doing things in a more formal way, giving them the keys on the 15th, in exchange for the deposit and checks?

Yes. Never let your husband do this alone again.

 

You never hand over keys until you have 100% full funds in good-as-cash form (cash or bank money order you verify)and you have verified tenants have turned on utilities.

 

You never ever let a tenant in before the lease takes effect.

 

They just got possession of the house with NO money! They probably went directly to the house.

 

I hope this somehow works out for you, but you'd better be praying. I'd be correcting that situation immediately.

 

I have been a landlord for a long time. You must do credit checks, criminal history checks, employment verification, and landlord reference checks on every individual.

Edited by TranquilMind
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Honestly?  This is as much a scam as that e-mail I received letting me know a widow wants to get money into our country and needs my help...

 

They may have been good tenants before (emphasis on may), but at this point they don't have money and can't pay you.  He is on disability and she works as a temp.  How is their financial situation changing?

 

We had tenants (already in our property) and were paying monthly.  He went on disability and payments started to decrease and be late.  He assured us they would catch up when he received his disability check.  His lawyer assured us they'd be getting a disability check.  We ended up letting him stay (felt sorry for him + he had kids in school, etc) - paying us less for 9 months and nothing at all for 3 months - awaiting that settlement.  Then we heard (from others) he had gotten his settlement.  What?

 

We never received a dime of about 7-8K they owed us in rent AND they totally trashed our house.  I mean totally.  They even broke all the drawers inside the fridge and all ceiling fans, doors (including closet doors), mini-blinds, etc.  We're still about 15K behind from having to fix up the house and then there's the lost rent.

 

We were repaid handsomely for being compassionate and letting them stay until they got their settlement.   :cursing:   Not a dime came our way directly from them.  (We did pick up $22+ in change they left all over the floors.)

 

They moved into another place with some other poor trusting soul, but I've no idea if they're still there or moving elsewhere.

 

Changing locks is the least of your potential expenses IMO.

 

We will never be compassionate again.  It only takes one major idiot to sear lessons into a brain.

 

There's a reason your tenants don't have the money and it's likely setting the precedent.  

 

IF they get the money by the 15th, you can make your decision then.

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Ex and I rented when we were pretty broke before. We would have never expected or assumed to get into a house without deposit and first months rent. 

 

I agree with changing the locks and waiting until you are paid in ways other than post-dated checks. We would have never given post dated checks either. I have no idea of the current law, but we knew people who had post-dated checks deposited early and ended up bouncing so many checks because the landlord (or whoever) didn't wait to deposit it. So you could sell that as a protection for them as well. 

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This is a nightmare waiting to happen. 

 

If you can't afford to change the locks, sell the place, because you can't afford to be a landlord (what happens when the property needs a repair?).

 

If $100 to change the locks costs too much, how are you going to manage financially when they don't cough up the money they are supposed to have?  Then you'll be out....at least $1K, right?

 

Change the locks.  Cancel the lease. Then call a realtor and put the place on the market.  You don't seem to have the financial or the emotional resources to be a good landlord, for your tenant or yourself.  Get the property on the market now, before someone trashes it (or you let it decline because you can't afford upkeep).  This way, at least you'll be able to get as much as possible from the property value.

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I would not change the locks. In Maryland, you cannot do this as a LL just because you messed up. It is illegal (here) to change locks, cut off utilties or otherwise make the property uninhabitable to flush a renter out. What I would do, now that DH made an absurd decision to let them move in and dictate when they will pay security deposit and rent, is be prepared to file for eviction on February 16th. Filing for eviction does not mean an eviction will definitely happen. The sheriff told my DH that a very tiny percentage of evictions actually occur compared to the thousands of papers filed. It usually just tells the renter that you are not a welcome mat and they need to come up with the deposit and rent immediately, which they "magically" manage to do 90% of the time.

 

Here is the First Rule of Landlording: be formal about every single thing, especially at the beginning of the transactions.

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You and your husband seriously need to get on the same page. In the future, I wouldn't let him go to any of these meetings by himself. So sorry you aren't getting the reassurance you are looking for but I think you are getting good advice. I hope you'll keep us updated as things progress. And I hope everything turns out just fine. :)

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I would start by sending them an email saying this:

 

Hello,

 

How are you today?

 

I'm writing to clarify information regarding move-in, rental payment, etc.  I'm afraid it may have been unclear.

 

Move-in day needs to remain on the previously stated date, February 16 (or later).  One month rent plus security deposit needs to be paid in full before move-in, and the security deposit needs to be paid in cash.  If first month rent is paid by check, it will need to be cleared before move-in.  This is our protocol and we need to abide by these terms.

 

I'm sure you understand that we need to take all precautions in order to maintain our rental property.

 

Thank you,

 

XXXX

 

**********

 

Then, I'd either change the locks or something similar...  I've seen real estate agents who put an extra type of lock (it looks kind of like a giant padlock) on the door.  So, the regular lock is left unlocked, but the agent has a key to these added locks.  

 

Maybe that's against the law, but if they are being deceitful, they will not want anything to do with the law I imagine, and if they're honest, then I think they'd understand.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I would not change the locks. In Maryland, you cannot do this as a LL just because you messed up. It is illegal (here) to change locks, cut off utilties or otherwise make the property uninhabitable to flush a renter out. What I would do, now that DH made an absurd decision to let them move in and dictate when they will pay security deposit and rent, is be prepared to file for eviction on February 16th. Filing for eviction does not mean an eviction will definitely happen. The sheriff told my DH that a very tiny percentage of evictions actually occur compared to the thousands of papers filed. It usually just tells the renter that you are not a welcome mat and they need to come up with the deposit and rent immediately, which they "magically" manage to do 90% of the time.

 

Here is the First Rule of Landlording: be formal about every single thing, especially at the beginning of the transactions.

 

Except that the lease isn't active yet, so she can change the locks now.  If they come up with the money on the 15th, when the lease begins, then she can change them back.

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I would start by sending them an email saying this:

 

Hello,

 

How are you today?

 

I'm writing to clarify information regarding move-in, rental payment, etc. I'm afraid it may have been unclear.

 

Move-in day needs to remain on the previously stated date, February 16 (or later). One month rent plus security deposit needs to be paid in full before move-in, and the security deposit needs to be paid in cash. If first month rent is paid by check, it will need to be cleared before move-in. This is our protocol and we need to abide by these terms.

 

I'm sure you understand that we need to take all precautions in order to maintain our rental property.

 

Thank you,

 

XXXX

 

**********

 

Then, I'd either change the locks or something similar... I've seen real estate agents who put an extra type of lock (it looks kind of like a giant padlock) on the door. So, the regular lock is left unlocked, but the agent has a key to these added locks.

 

Maybe that's against the law, but if they are being deceitful, they will not want anything to do with the law I imagine, and if they're honest, then I think they'd understand.

I like most of what you wrote, but have to disagree with the part that says "but if they are being deceitful, they will not want anything to do with the law." I've had deceitful people read up on the law so that they know what their rights are and exactly how far they can push us. Sad but true.

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Except that the lease isn't active yet, so she can change the locks now.  If they come up with the money on the 15th, when the lease begins, then she can change them back.

Yes!  Exactly.  I would have been over there at dark 30 this morning confirming they haven't already tried to take possession and I would be changing the locks.  I would have hubby go get the new locks while I camped out at the place making sure they did NOT move in.  I would politely but firmly explain the mix up if they did show.  Locks can be changed back later.

 

I have been on both ends.  This might end up being stress over nothing and certainly it is great to help out others in need.  On the flip side, this could be a huge disaster.  The possible negatives of this situation far outweigh any potential minor positives (such as saving the cost of lock changing) in taking a wait and see attitude, IMHO.

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I'm thinking to email them and state that they can't move in and that I need the keys back as I have a friend staying there until the 15th.

 

 

Do it and change the locks. Tell them they'll get the keys to the new locks when they've paid the deposit and first months rent.

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I would not make up or insert a story about a friend needing to stay there. Instead, you need to be very clear (and on the same page with your dh) about what you require from tenants in order to rent from you. What you are asking is not at all out of the ordinary. If you get a good tenant and want to be a kind and flexible landlord, I think that's the time to let your goodheartedness show. Up front you need to have good boundaries or you run the major risk of someone walking all over you and making a mess out of your life and finances.

 

I would get over there asap and make sure they have not moved anything in yet, change the locks, and send them an email that is crystal clear about the financial requirements in order to rent. 

 

In the long run changing the locks will be MUCH cheaper than having to evict someone.

 

Amy

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Just as a warning, if they have already moved in, you'd best check the legalities of getting them out.  Laws are often very much on the side of the tenant.

 

It's different if it's just been word of mouth and legally the contract says they can't move in until later.

 

Yes!  If they have moved in already, call the sheriff, because they are not supposed to be there.  Don't just let it slide. 

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The references were okay. No, we don't know them. The employer was her sister, and she works there as a temp. Her partner is currently on disability.

These are NOT good references.

 

 

RED FLAGS ON THE PLAY.

 

 

Do your email (that's a nice way to handle it) and change the locks today.  Seriously.  Do this.

 

I'm not sure how to back out of the verbal commitments that your husband made, but they need to sign a rental agreement, give you a deposit and first month's rent in certified funds, and do a walk through to document the condition of the place together BEFORE they have access to the property.

 

And next time YOU do the talking.  

 

ETA:  AND PLEASE HURRY!  Don't wait, do it this minute if you haven't already.  A lot more than your lock change fee is at stake and clearly is in play here.

Edited by Carol in Cal.
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Yes!  If they have moved in already, call the sheriff, because they are not supposed to be there.  Don't just let it slide. 

If they have moved in and can produce the Lease, the Sheriff will do nothing.  They are tenants the moment they gain possession, and ousting them requires eviction.   If she wishes to prove the Lease is invalid for failure to meet the terms (assuming proper drafting), that is a civil matter. 

If she got to the house and changed the locks first before they went there, this might be a grey area, but it is much better for her. 

Edited by TranquilMind
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I like most of what you wrote, but have to disagree with the part that says "but if they are being deceitful, they will not want anything to do with the law." I've had deceitful people read up on the law so that they know what their rights are and exactly how far they can push us. Sad but true.

Right.  The professional tenants know the law better than most landlords.

 

All landlords should watch "Pacific Heights" with Michael Keaton for a view of what a pro tenant can do. 

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This is a nightmare waiting to happen. 

 

If you can't afford to change the locks, sell the place, because you can't afford to be a landlord (what happens when the property needs a repair?).

 

If $100 to change the locks costs too much, how are you going to manage financially when they don't cough up the money they are supposed to have?  Then you'll be out....at least $1K, right?

 

Change the locks.  Cancel the lease. Then call a realtor and put the place on the market.  You don't seem to have the financial or the emotional resources to be a good landlord, for your tenant or yourself.  Get the property on the market now, before someone trashes it (or you let it decline because you can't afford upkeep).  This way, at least you'll be able to get as much as possible from the property value.

I agree.  Spring is coming up and it might be a good time to sell. If these people do cooperate and come through with the money, you will have to wait until Lease expiration, of course. 

 

Vacancies cost a LOT of money.  You are paying mortgage and all utilites and lawn care the entire time.  Minimum on my small houses was a grand a month. 

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Honestly?  This is as much a scam as that e-mail I received letting me know a widow wants to get money into our country and needs my help...

 

They may have been good tenants before (emphasis on may), but at this point they don't have money and can't pay you.  He is on disability and she works as a temp.  How is their financial situation changing?

 

We had tenants (already in our property) and were paying monthly.  He went on disability and payments started to decrease and be late.  He assured us they would catch up when he received his disability check.  His lawyer assured us they'd be getting a disability check.  We ended up letting him stay (felt sorry for him + he had kids in school, etc) - paying us less for 9 months and nothing at all for 3 months - awaiting that settlement.  Then we heard (from others) he had gotten his settlement.  What?

 

We never received a dime of about 7-8K they owed us in rent AND they totally trashed our house.  I mean totally.  They even broke all the drawers inside the fridge and all ceiling fans, doors (including closet doors), mini-blinds, etc.  We're still about 15K behind from having to fix up the house and then there's the lost rent.

 

We were repaid handsomely for being compassionate and letting them stay until they got their settlement.   :cursing:   Not a dime came our way directly from them.  (We did pick up $22+ in change they left all over the floors.)

 

They moved into another place with some other poor trusting soul, but I've no idea if they're still there or moving elsewhere.

 

Changing locks is the least of your potential expenses IMO.

 

We will never be compassionate again.  It only takes one major idiot to sear lessons into a brain.

 

There's a reason your tenants don't have the money and it's likely setting the precedent.  

 

IF they get the money by the 15th, you can make your decision then.

Right.  I've heard this story a thousand times from my landlord group.

 

NEVER mix compassion and charity with business.  NEVER.  Do your charity work elsewhere, not with your 100K+ asset that you don't even own in full yet (and even if you do!). 

 

You've got to check out these tenants like the CIA does when someone is entering their program.  Easier today with the plethora of background checks available.  And always insist on talking to a REAL landlord.  If they are setting up their friend as a landlord, ask questions that only the real landlord would know.  "Was the rent $800 (when you know it was $900)?  So they have a dog and a cat, or just a dog (when you know they said they had no pets?).  Were they late 3 times?   I think I might have the property address incorrect, could you verify the unit that you rented? 

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I would not tell a renter that "my friend" was staying there.  If the friend was actually there, it could be awkward/dangerous depending on what happens when "renter" shows up thinking they could move in.  If it's just a made up story, it could be an invitation to steal stuff and blame it on "friend".  Not Nice.

 

Change the door lock.  Let them know they need to contact you if they want to drop off stuff before the lease goes into effect and you will need the security deposit in cash before you can let them in.

 

Change the locks back once you have the $$$ in hand and everything is good to go.

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If they have moved in and can produce the Lease, the Sheriff will do nothing.  They are tenants the moment they gain possession, and ousting them requires eviction.   If she wishes to prove the Lease is invalid for failure to meet the terms (assuming proper drafting), that is a civil matter. 

If she got to the house and changed the locks first before they went there, this might be a grey area, but it is much better for her. 

 

Yes, this is the way the law works here as well.  The fact that they didn't pay is irrelevant.  The fact that they had permission (evidenced by keys) to move in means they are legal tenants.  

 

Not paying means you can cancel the lease, by starting the eviction process, not changing the locks. The only grey area about changing the locks is whether it is civil or criminal, it's definitely not allowed under any state law that I'm aware of, but that's your best option at this point.  Midwest here, the South has different laws.  

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I would not change the locks. In Maryland, you cannot do this as a LL just because you messed up. It is illegal (here) to change locks, cut off utilties or otherwise make the property uninhabitable to flush a renter out. What I would do, now that DH made an absurd decision to let them move in and dictate when they will pay security deposit and rent, is be prepared to file for eviction on February 16th. Filing for eviction does not mean an eviction will definitely happen. The sheriff told my DH that a very tiny percentage of evictions actually occur compared to the thousands of papers filed. It usually just tells the renter that you are not a welcome mat and they need to come up with the deposit and rent immediately, which they "magically" manage to do 90% of the time.

 

Here is the First Rule of Landlording: be formal about every single thing, especially at the beginning of the transactions.

 

Pretty sure this only applies if they've actually moved in/taken possession.  She isn't flushing them out, she's not allowing them to take possession until the agreed upon (in the lease) date.  But I agree, you can't change locks on a tenant if they are currently living there no matter how much they screw you over in a lot of states.

 

Unless they were very savvy and moved in as soon as they were done talking to OP's DH.

 

OTOH, I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice.  But if they have a piece of paper that says they can move in on x date, and she changes the locks before then and before they are in there, I don't think they (the tenants) would have a case against her.

Edited by JodiSue
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I agree about not sending a letter basically lying about the situation.  You own the place.  Just explain there was a misunderstanding.  Rent and Deposit in your hand/cashed and they can move in.  Otherwise, the keys they have are useless(b/c you are going to change the locks ASAP).  

 

I didn't understand...did your DH and they all sign the lease?  Honestly, I would say they need all monies on the 16th.  When you get that, they get keys and can move in. Not earlier.  Just say your DH was mistaken on the details.  What a mess.  I hope you get it worked out

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