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Tampa Property Management Challenge #1 : Section 8 Tenant From Hell

So, let me set the background. The Section 8 tenant, let’s call her Tina, has been renting a nice 4 bed/2 bath home from us in Tampa. She has been with us about 4 months.

Our Tampa property management company is currently experiencing the worst Section 8 tenant in the history of our company. This is a great illustration of how to handle an out of control Section 8 tenant (which are very rare).

About 45 days ago, she asked to move and for us to allow her to break her lease. Now a Section 8 tenant can’t just up and move because they signed a year lease which they are required to fulfill, in normal circumstances. We denied her request, but she kept making them more loudly and aggresively.

Just last week, she calls us to report a water leak on her carpet. We send our plumber out there the same day to fix it. It turns out she broke a pipe connected to a faucet outside. This cracked an interior pipe which caused a major water leak. At the same time, she ripped the referigerator rubber gasketl which caused condensation and a pool of water below. It is likely both of these were caused by one of her 5 children. Well the day before she called us, Tina called in an emergency inspection with the Section 8 office reporting unsafe living conditions. We think her goal was to get the unit declared unsafe so she could break her lease and not lose her Section 8 voucher.

After we fixed the leak, the plumber asked her not to use the water overnight because the glue in the pipe had to set. She agreed to stay the night at a friend’s house. After he left, she immediately called the City of Tampa to come out and turn it back on. This of course caused a major plumbing leak. Oh, I forgot to mention that she cursed out my maintenance men who came out to fix the refrigerator.

We also sent a carpet cleaner over to extract the water from the carpet. They left some blowers overnight so the carpet could be throughly dried. The tenant turned off the dryers so the carpet could not dry.

At this point, what would you do? You could just allow her to break the lease and get this horrible tenant out and call it a day. Or you could file for eviction. These would be the most common solutions. We are taking a third alternative. We called the Section 8 counselor assigned to this tenant and informed her of the situation. The counselor called the tenant and explained this behavior was unacceptable and she was at risk of losing her voucher.

We are going to have to file a grievance with the Section 8 office and likely file for eviction. I refuse to allow a tenant to behave in this manner. Most property managers would say it is not worth the effort, and you will lose more money by filing eviction and possible additional damages. I believe that occassionally a tenant crosses a line which is completely unacceptable.

In this case, she will either start behaving, pay us for damages, and fulfill her lease or she will lose her Section 8 voucher for the next 7 years and have an eviction on her credit report. Out of 260 different tenants in a year, our Tampa property management company might ecounter someone this bad 2 or 3 times, and I simply will not be intimidated or threatened.

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