When a homeowner or renter resides in a particular property, they should do so in a way that isn’t a nuisance to others. When they go against this obligation, they become a “nuisance tenant”. This covers tenants that cause too many problems in the community, including being too noisy, getting into fights with neighbors, damaging the unit, or engaging in illegal acts. So who is responsible to deal with nuisance tenants? Are landlords liable for nuisance tenants? Let’s continue in detail.
Who is a “Nuisance Tenant”?
One of the reasons why a tenant would be considered a nuisance is due to noise. A tenant will probably be labeled as a nuisance tenant if they create excessive noise, for example, throwing parties that last late into the night. A nuisance tenant is also one that performs construction work after dark – particularly work that involves power tools such as chainsaws and scrapers.
Tenant nuisance isn’t limited to noise. Tenants that don’t clean their units – particularly outside the unit – are also a nuisance as their actions can attract rodents. Also, secondhand smoke likely constitutes a nuisance if it affects the life and safety of others, as once decided by a Florida Court in Merrill v. Bosser.
It’s worth mentioning that the definition of a “nuisance tenant” varies in law. However, what’s consistent is that it covers acts that get in the way of others’ rights to use their property. Just in case your tenant is being sued for interfering with their neighbor’s “right to quiet enjoyment”, be sure to consult a property management service provider to determine if their acts do fall under the definition of a nuisance.
What are the Two Types of Nuisances?
There are two types of nuisances in law – private nuisance and public nuisance.
A private nuisance involves an act that disturbs individuals – not a collective. For example, let’s say that your tenant’s dog keeps barking at night, and this disturbs their next-door neighbors. Since the noise isn’t a nuisance to everyone, it is only a private nuisance.
While homeowners and tenants have the right to own a dog, neighbors also have the right to live in peace. So, in this situation, the neighbor that was disturbed has the right to sue the nuisance tenant. Keep in mind that the neighbor still needs to provide evidence that the tenant was indeed a nuisance. As a rule of thumb, your tenant can be sued if they:
- Harm another person’s health;
- Obstruct another person’s free use of the property;
- Offend other people; and
- Conduct unlawful acts
But when the nuisance begins to disturb the whole neighborhood, that would be a public nuisance. It covers acts that are just the same as a private nuisance, however, it causes a wide range of people to lose their right to peaceful enjoyment. For instance, a neighbor who goes around the entire neighborhood in their noisy sports car would be a public nuisance.
Where are Nuisance Cases Settled?
Neighbors can file a lawsuit in a small claims court, however, they should try to settle matters outside the courts. This is also called mediation. This is because when neighbors get into lawsuits, it would be impossible to repair their relations. The same goes for neighbors that are from HOA-regulated neighborhoods.
What Should Landlords Do When Their Tenant Is a Nuinance?
First, we need to learn whether are landlords liable for nuisance tenants or not. In most cases, the landlords are not liable. The first person to know if your tenant is a nuisance is likely your property manager, or you if you’re self-managing your rental property. If you find out that your tenant is a nuisance even though they’ve signed a rental agreement with a nuisance provision, here’s what you need to do to deal with a nuisance tenant:
#1 Find Out More Information
Don’t take the disgruntled neighbor’s word for it and make sure you find out more information. Get the “Ws” including the who, what, when, and where from the complainant and the tenant. Determine if their stories are consistent, and if not, consider asking other tenants for their take on the matter.
#2 Ask the Nuisance Tenant to Address the Issue
If the complaint turns out to be true, be sure to contact the tenant and tell them about the problem. They won’t be able to address the issue if they aren’t aware of their faults. For instance, if your tenants are being too noisy that it’s disturbing their neighbors, give your tenants the opportunity to redeem themselves.
#3 Issue a Three-Day Notice
Depending on your state, you may be able to issue a three-day notice to compel tenants to act on the matter. The three-day notice tells the tenant to deal with the violation, otherwise, they’ll have to vacate the rental unit. This, however, applies only to violations involving acts that the tenant can correct.
If the nuisance is an illegal act (e.g. selling drugs), you’re required to serve a notice to quit. This gives the tenant three days to vacate the rental unit. They will not be able to remedy the problem.
#4 Evict the Tenant
Ask your property management company to check whether or not the tenant corrected the violation after you’ve served the notice. If not, you can evict the tenant provided that you can prove that the issue is unresolved, or in other words, you can show the court that the tenant did not deal with the issue.
Can You Avoid Nuisance Tenants?
As the rental property owner, you will be held responsible when your renters do not uphold their obligations. What’s worse is that you could incur criminal penalties if you allow your tenant to conduct illegal acts in the rental property.
Fortunately, you can protect yourself if you partner with a property management company.
Hopefully, you have understood whether are landlords liable for nuisance tenants or not. To avoid renting out your property to nuisance tenants, enlist the services of a property management company that provides a strict tenant screening process. Experienced property management companies can expertly screen tenants by conducting a background check, credit check, and the like. They can also help draft contracts to ensure that you are protected in case your tenants decide to go against their lease agreement.
At Luxury Property Care, we provide these services and more at a competitive rate. All of our services can be tailored according to your property’s needs – all you have to do is to call us at (561) 944 – 2992 or contact us online.