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Thread: What should landlord do when neighbors have problems with tenants?

  1. #1
    manhattanproj is offline Junior Member
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    What should landlord do when neighbors have problems with tenants?

    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? California

    I'm a landlord in the Bay Area. For the past year or so, a few of the neighbors have been lodging complaints against my tenants and called the police numerous times. They've accused the tenants of drug dealing, drinking, damaging city property, etc. I've spoken to the tenants, a single mother w/ kids, and she denies any illegal wrongdoings. And the police didn't issue any citations/violations. They are under Section 8/Public Housing and she believes those neighbors are discriminating against her because of her socio-economic status. Essentially the neighbors are trying to push her out. She mentioned that everytime she walks her dog, one of the neighbors bring her dog and tried to provoke them. There have also been some arguments with the neighbors and the kids.

    In a case like that, what would you guys advise me to do? What sort of legal actions should I take, if any, to protect myself?

    In addition, those complaining neighbors want to set up a meeting with me to discuss the issues. Would you guys recommend having such meetings? I've spoken to a friend of mine, and she said it's not advisable to do that because essentially my relationship is with the tenants, not with the neighbors. And to protect myself from any liabilities in case they hang on to every words that I say at the meeting. She recommends me to issue a warning letter noting the complaints and have that copied to the police, so it is on file and to cover my bases.

    Any advise and help is appreciated.
  2. #2
    BL
    BL is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by manhattanproj View Post
    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? California

    I'm a landlord in the Bay Area. For the past year or so, a few of the neighbors have been lodging complaints against my tenants and called the police numerous times. They've accused the tenants of drug dealing, drinking, damaging city property, etc. I've spoken to the tenants, a single mother w/ kids, and she denies any illegal wrongdoings. And the police didn't issue any citations/violations. They are under Section 8/Public Housing and she believes those neighbors are discriminating against her because of her socio-economic status. Essentially the neighbors are trying to push her out. She mentioned that everytime she walks her dog, one of the neighbors bring her dog and tried to provoke them. There have also been some arguments with the neighbors and the kids.

    In a case like that, what would you guys advise me to do? What sort of legal actions should I take, if any, to protect myself?

    In addition, those complaining neighbors want to set up a meeting with me to discuss the issues. Would you guys recommend having such meetings? I've spoken to a friend of mine, and she said it's not advisable to do that because essentially my relationship is with the tenants, not with the neighbors. And to protect myself from any liabilities in case they hang on to every words that I say at the meeting. She recommends me to issue a warning letter noting the complaints and have that copied to the police, so it is on file and to cover my bases.

    Any advise and help is appreciated.
    What type of rental agreement do you have ?

    You could contact your local police force and/or drug unit to see if they have had any complaints about drugs at the address.

    You could send a letter to the tenants making them aware of the complaints.

    Barring actual knowledge that there IS drug activity , it seems the tenants are protected under their Sec. 8 Agreement if they are not otherwise in violation.

    I would would decline any communication with the neighbors.
    Banned_Princess likes this.
  3. #3
    DeenaCA is offline Member
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    They are under Section 8/Public Housing and she believes those neighbors are discriminating against her because of her socio-economic status. Essentially the neighbors are trying to push her out.
    The neighbors wouldn't have any way to find out that the tenant is on the voucher program ("Section 8"). Why do you think the neighbors have it in for this tenant?

    Of course it's possible that the tenant isn't causing a disturbance and that the neighbors have taken an irrational dislike to her. On the other hand, there could be issues you're not aware of unless you are on the property regularly. HUD finds that some Section 8 landlords turn a blind eye as long as the subsidy payments are flowing (I'm not saying that's the case in your situation). Disturbance of neighbors is good cause for termination of tenancy under your contract with the housing authority ("HAP contract"). You can review the contract at portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=52641.pdf.

    There could be indicators that the tenancy isn't going well. Is the tenant current on her portion of rent? Has she moved in unauthorized additional people such as a boyfriend? What were the results of the last housing authority inspection? Do you know what specific complaints the neighbors are making? Did you talk to prior landlords?

    I agree with the other posters that you should protect yourself. Going to a meeting with the neighbors is probably not the best idea. The downside to ignoring the problem completely, though, is that the rental unit could be heavily damaged if the tenant really is running a party house. The housing authority does not cover damages, so you'd have to try to collect from the tenant if damages exceed her security deposit.
  4. #4
    Searchertwin is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by manhattanproj View Post
    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? California

    I'm a landlord in the Bay Area. For the past year or so, a few of the neighbors have been lodging complaints against my tenants and called the police numerous times. They've accused the tenants of drug dealing, drinking, damaging city property, etc. I've spoken to the tenants, a single mother w/ kids, and she denies any illegal wrongdoings. And the police didn't issue any citations/violations. They are under Section 8/Public Housing and she believes those neighbors are discriminating against her because of her socio-economic status. Essentially the neighbors are trying to push her out. She mentioned that everytime she walks her dog, one of the neighbors bring her dog and tried to provoke them. There have also been some arguments with the neighbors and the kids.

    In a case like that, what would you guys advise me to do? What sort of legal actions should I take, if any, to protect myself?

    Any advise and help is appreciated.
    I would suggest the following:
    1) Get copies of the police record indicating they did not issue any citation/violations on the complaint relating to drugs. This is the most important step for you. If drugs are found in the future from this women, those reports will protect you. Not 100 per cent, but will help.
    2) You already know this, stay away and keep your opinions, your relationship to YOURSELF.
    3) As BL suggested, send a crr letter to each of the residents, not just who you think you know who is doing this, stating that numerous complaints have been made against a fellow neighbor. As of this time you have no proof of any wrong doings with this neighbor by way of police visits or personal contact. Than fill in rest of letter with stuff like living in this type of apartment will have there share of problems, kid fighting, loud noises, dog poop not being pick-up..etc. End letter with how to try and live in peace by avoiding conflict, blah blah blah. Not to much just a little. Indicate that if they know of someone dealing in drugs in any way, to contact police and than you. Keep it short, simple and to the point, and do not mention names.

    Hope this helps.
  5. #5
    manhattanproj is offline Junior Member
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    Thanks much for the help so far. You guys have been helpful.

    Quote Originally Posted by DeenaCA View Post
    The neighbors wouldn't have any way to find out that the tenant is on the voucher program ("Section 8"). Why do you think the neighbors have it in for this tenant?
    I have no idea how those neighbors found out but I did get an anonymous letter saying they'll report to the housing authority.


    Another question: Can the neighbors sue over something like this? That seem to be one of their big things as they kept saying they'll report to the police, to the housing authority and to sue me. I'm not really sure what laws are in regards to the landlord responsibilities over neighbors' complaints/issues with tenants. Can't find anything online about such a scenario.
  6. #6
    manhattanproj is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by BL View Post
    I would would decline any communication with the neighbors.
    Would you recommend talking with the non-complaining neighbors on the block to see how they feel about the tenants and whether they have any issues? Kind of to see whether there is any truths to the complaints. Or would these actions not be advisable?

    And is it advisable for the tenants to meet with the neighbors?
  7. #7
    BL
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    Quote Originally Posted by manhattanproj View Post
    Would you recommend talking with the non-complaining neighbors on the block to see how they feel about the tenants and whether they have any issues? Kind of to see whether there is any truths to the complaints. Or would these actions not be advisable?

    And is it advisable for the tenants to meet with the neighbors?
    No and No.

    Tenants - neighbors get frustrated and ofter times threaten to sue .

    The only thing you have to worry about is that if you knowingly allow drug activities - especially sales.

    Send the letter to the tenants and advise them you have received complaints of drug activity from and on your rental to them.

    Again you can check with law eforcement and advise them of neighbors and your conserns for the record , and advise them you personally do not know of any.
  8. #8
    Searchertwin is offline Senior Member
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    The only thing you have to worry about is that if you knowingly allow drug activities - especially sales
    .

    That's why I suggested that op get the copies from police when they were called.

    Send the letter to the tenants and advise them you have received complaints of drug activity from and on your rental to them.
    As a LL, I would not do this. This could backfire on the LL. Tenant could be doing drugs and when caught they could say "Well, LL knew about the complaints, here read what he wrote, and it was alright with him".

    That's why I suggested he send crr letter and I stated, "a crr letter to each of the residents, not just who you think you know who is doing this, stating that numerous complaints have been made against a fellow neighbor. As of this time you have no proof of any wrong doings with this neighbor by way of police visits or personal contact."


    Be careful on how you play this out, you have a lot to lose than the tenant.
  9. #9
    Searchertwin is offline Senior Member
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    [QUOTE]
    Quote Originally Posted by manhattanproj View Post
    Thanks much for the help so far. You guys have been helpful.
    I have no idea how those neighbors found out but I did get an anonymous letter saying they'll report to the housing authority.
    If you do as suggested, let them. Burden of proof will be on them

    Another question: Can the neighbors sue over something like this? That seem to be one of their big things as they kept saying they'll report to the police, to the housing authority and to sue me. I'm not really sure what laws are in regards to the landlord responsibilities over neighbors' complaints/issues with tenants. Can't find anything online about such a scenario.
    Again, burden is on the tenant, you need to protect yourself as I suggested.
    In this letter, don't point fingers, keep it general and indicate if they have proof to call police and you. You will contact the housing authority if needed.

    Again, watch how you play this. Drugs, selling or using will be your downfall if you don't protect your self with a paper trail.
    Take care
  10. #10
    manhattanproj is offline Junior Member
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    Here is the gameplan I formulated:

    1) Check with police and the reports
    2) Letter to tenants noting the complaints and what the police reported, whether there is or isn't stuff happening. Saying these activities are not condoned by me and should these things happen, will report and result in eviction. Kind of a warning letter and fulfill my duty as a landlord and to the neighborhood.
    (I know Searchertwin said it's not a good idea but something like this may be needed like BL suggested.)
    3) Letter to the neighbors as Searchertwin outlined.

    Should I have a lawyer write up those letters? Or can I write them myself? Btw, what is a crr letter?

    I know BL suggested not to but I'm still grappling whether to talk to the neighbors. Not a meeting or anything. Just a quick knock and ask have you had any problems with the ppl at this house, etc. Just to see the merits of the complaints. Kind of figure out whether this is smoke, fire, or just ppl with too much time on their time.
  11. #11
    Banned_Princess is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by manhattanproj View Post
    Here is the gameplan I formulated:

    1) Check with police and the reports
    2) Letter to tenants noting the complaints and what the police reported, whether there is or isn't stuff happening. Saying these activities are not condoned by me and should these things happen, will report and result in eviction. Kind of a warning letter and fulfill my duty as a landlord and to the neighborhood.
    (I know Searchertwin said it's not a good idea but something like this may be needed like BL suggested.)
    3) Letter to the neighbors as Searchertwin outlined.

    Should I have a lawyer write up those letters? Or can I write them myself? Btw, what is a crr letter?

    I know BL suggested not to but I'm still grappling whether to talk to the neighbors. Not a meeting or anything. Just a quick knock and ask have you had any problems with the ppl at this house, etc. Just to see the merits of the complaints. Kind of figure out whether this is smoke, fire, or just ppl with too much time on their time.
    A CRR letter is a certified letter that returns to you, a receipt with the signature of the person who accepted the letter. Your post office knows all about it.

    If you feel like you MUST speak to the neighbors do so, just be the one asking questions, NOT answering them. there isn't anything that is any of the neighbors business.

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