Landlord/Tenant Q&A: LAURENE H. YOUNG, (B) MPM, RMP, REALTOR

LAURENE H. YOUNG, (B) MPM, RMP, REALTOR
Young Hawaii Homes, Inc.
2011 President, Oahu Chapter
National Association of Residential Property Managers

Q. I have a two-bedroom unit in a townhouse and the tenant has 5 months remaining on her lease. It appears that she lost her job and may need medical treatment. She runs around the unit all day and all night. Neighbors have complained about the noise she is making. She yells, using foul language and inappropriate comments to anyone passing by. Other tenants have threatened legal action against me if nothing is done about this situation. She is current on her rent. What can I do about this situation?

A. As the Landlord, you have an obligation to try to do something about this situation, even though it doesn’t directly affect you right now. Hopefully you have the emergency contact information of a family member or close friend who you can enlist to help you in this situation. If the tenant’s behavior worsens or the family is unable to control the tenant, you may have to get health care professionals involved. I don’t know if this is a chronic or acute problem, but it does sound like she needs some help. Her family should know more about her medical history than you.

This is a sad situation since it seems that the tenants mental condition might have also had something to do with her losing her job. It is likely that she may soon be unable to pay the rent, but you cannot terminate the lease in anticipation of her being delinquent. Family members, who are unable or unwilling to have her live with them, may decide to pay her rent so that she has a place to live.

Landlords may not discriminate due to race, sex including gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, color, religion, marital status, familial status, ancestry, disability, age, or human immunodeficiency virus infection. Even if your tenant has a mental disability or is a part of any protected class, she is not allowed to infringe on the rights of others to have safe and quiet enjoyment of their property. Send the tenant a written notice of the violation, giving her 10 days to remedy the situation. Let the tenant know that, if she continues to violate the rules after the 10 days, you will terminate the rental agreement and sue for possession of the unit. If you must sue to regain possession, the tenant will also be liable for all court costs and reasonable attorney fees. Also include a statement that states that if the problem is corrected but recurs, eviction proceedings will begin immediately without further notice. I would also send a copy to the family member or emergency contact.

If the situation gets better for a couple days and then recurs, you can still end the rental contract. According to Section 521-72 (b) of the Landlord Tenant Code, “if the breach complained of continues or recurs after the date specified in the notice, the landlord may bring a summary proceeding for possession within thirty days after such continued or recurring breach”. You don’t need another 10-day notice to the tenant but you must go to court before those thirty days have elapsed.

The landlord can immediately move to evict a tenant without notice if (1) the tenant violates state or country laws relating to health and safety, (2) the tenant or any of the tenant’s guests purposely destroys or extensively damages the rental unit or any part of the premises, or (3) the breaking of a house rule causes or threatens to cause injury to a person. If the tenant threatens another person or causes extensive damage to the property, you have grounds for immediate termination of the lease. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that, but you need to get the situation under control quickly. Good luck to all of you.

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