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Ask Ely Your Own Question
Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 102504
Experience:  Qualified attorney in private practice including business, family, criminal, and real estate issues.
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As a landlord, can I break a lease due to verbal abuse by tenant

Customer Question

As a landlord, can I break a lease due to verbal abuse by tenant to me or my sister who was helping me out at the property? First, new tenant signed lease saying that smoking in unit is grounds for immediate termination of lease and forfeiture of deposit. I am out of area so sister went to unit on 4/11/16 to do a "walk-through" of the unit with the tenant. With permission of tenant, she went back on 4/14 to clean up some glue left on newly installed bathroom flooring and leave Liquid Plumber for slow bathtub drain. Upon opening door, she immediately smelled the smell of stale cigarette smoke. Since this tenant had already been problematic, upon advice from the HUD employee who deals with his case, a 24-hour notice of entry due to suspected lease violation was posted. Tenant then called and left two abusive voicemails on my sister's phone. Then when I later (last night) called the tenant, I could hear him saying "Who the f**k is THAT?" as he was picking up the phone. Then I said "Hello" and he said "Who is THIS?" and when I said my name he said "I don't want to talk to you right now" and hung up on me. And this is after leaving two nasty voicemails for my sister, the second one telling her "You need to call me back NOW. We need to get this straightened out TODAY", KNOWING that I am the owner and she was just helping me out. Can we break a lease based on his voicemails on my sister's phone? He is on HUD and my sister and the HUD rep are going over there at 3 today to see if she also smells cigarette smoke, which would be grounds for breaking the lease, but regardless, I just want him OUT of there. I work 60 hour weeks and am gone a LOT so I don't need a tenant who has verbally violent tendencies.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.
Hello and welcome to JustAnswer. Please note: This is general information for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. No specific course of action is proposed herein, and no attorney-client relationship or privilege is formed by speaking to an expert on this site. By continuing, you confirm that you understand and agree to these terms. Without even touching base on the rudeness aspect of the tenant, if the tenant breaches a material aspect of the contract, they can be evicted. If the tenant is not allowed to smoke on the property and has done so, then this is grounds for eviction. This is true both of regular tenants and HUD tenants. So one can simply evict based on this alone, arguably. I hope this helps and clarifies. Please use the SEND or REPLY button to keep chatting, or please RATE when finished. You may always ask follow ups at no charge after rating. Kindly rate my answer as one of TOP THREE FACES/STARS and then SUBMIT, as this is how experts get credit for our time. Rating my answer the bottom two faces/stars (or failing to submit the rating) does not give me credit and reflects poorly on me, even if my answer is correct. I work very hard to formulate an informative and honest answer for you; please reciprocate my good faith with a positive rating.