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Need help with tenant

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  • Need help with tenant

    We have a detached house on our farm that is currently rented by a friend of mine. Recently, her guests have been petting/feeding my horses and wandering the property (without my tenant accompanying them). Yesterday, one went for a walk around the farm, smoking, and looking in the outbuildings. It made me really uncomfortable. Am I being a jerk for not wanting her guests anywhere on my farm other than in her house? She’s renting the cabin, not the farm, and I feel like it’s a massive invasion of privacy when someone walks into my barn uninvited... really no different than if they walked into my house. These people are driving me nuts and defeating the whole purpose of buying a farm off the beaten path.

    How do I handle this without causing friction? Do I need to get over it if I’m going to have a tenant? I don’t mind if she has friends over but they need to stay in her house.

  • #2
    Could you fence around that cabin, even if just with something that is unobtrusive, but definitely shows where they can walk and not trespass on the rest of the property where they are understandably bugging you?

    Even a small little wood fence around that cabin would do it.

    Then, remember, communicate your requirements.
    Tell your tenant where you want them and where you don't.
    Then hold them to it.
    If you need an excuse, tell them your insurance may not be happy if someone, uninvited and unaccompanied by you, is wandering around.
    For her to be sure that her visitors don't do that again.

    They can't read your mind, tell them.
    Make it clear, no discussion, just the facts of life in your place.
    Some people, as you are seeing, have a different idea of boundaries than others.

    Comment


    • #3
      I would just set some boundaries about what's public v private. I imagine the guests assume the property is fair game and people are stupid about smoking near hay.
      http://weanieeventer.blogspot.com/

      Comment


      • #4
        Is there a patio/deck/porch or even some chairs on the lawn at her house? I mean, it's ridiculous to expect a tenant and their guests to ONLY stay inside all the time but it is also certainly appropriate that there be expectations that wandering about the property is not ok. Just set some boundaries with her about where she/guests are allowed outside and stress that privacy is important to you and wandering around the farm is not ok.

        While you're at it, unless you/she are smokers, I'd tell her flat out that the farm is a no smoking zone due to fire risk. If someone in residence is already a smoker, then I'd tell her smokers have to stay in a specific designated area.

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          There’s a back patio, a fenced in yard for her dog, and a front porch... I’m not saying stay inside. Just stay out of my barn/buildings/pastures.

          No, I’m not a smoker, and neither is she. I HATE smoking, and we are currently in a drought. My tenant is great. But giving permission to other people to enjoy my farm and my horses as if it’s her own is not ok.

          Comment


          • #6
            Are you sure she gave them permission? Her guests may have just assumed it was okay.

            So, first this needs to be in writing, and second, she needs to control her guests.

            "Hi Susie! I noticed something the other day and I just want to make sure we're all on the same page. I'm not sure if you're aware, but one of your guests was wandering around the other day and smoking near the hay. Besides the privacy concerns, that's a big liability for me and my insurance agent would have a heart attack. Can you please make sure your guests stay on your property in the future? I've updated The Rules to be clearer, here is a copy. I love having you here and I don't want this to be weird, so if you have any questions or there is something you think should be changed, let's talk about it!"

            --
            Wendy
            ... and Patrick

            Comment


            • #7
              Bluey nailed it, fence and posted signs Private Property - No Guests, No visitors beyond this point. I think you have to include the Guests and Visitors in the wording.

              Comment


              • #8
                Put up "no smoking" and "private property no trespassing" signs around the barn -- an DO talk to your friend/tenant, too!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Two questions:

                  1. Have you been a landlord before? If not, I suggest that you learn a little bit about that business. Housing law is a very well-developed section of it, so if you learn a bit you'll discover just what you can and cannot do, or how to set and enforce terms with a tenant.

                  That said, I think this can be handled with some friendly-but-boundary-setting conversation with your good tenant.

                  2. Have you told your tenant which areas she and/or her guest can visit and which are off limits? Have you issues a smoking policy?

                  Chances are, the tenant didn't know that she was doing wrong by having smoking guests on your farm. Tell her and see if that doesn't solve that problem. And I'm sure she didn't predict that they'd start snooping around your outbuildings. Go talk to her and tell her about the stuff that happened that you don't like. I'll bet she apologizes and tells you that it won't happen again. You have to remember that horses are an "attractive nuisance"-- people will go pet them or feed them treats or whatever unless they are explicitly told not to (and then, they'll still try).

                  So you have to Use Your Words. If you didn't make it expressly clear that there is no smoking on your farm (if that's what you want.... or, better: designate an outdoor spot that folks can do that); that some areas are off-limits, and that she's responsible for letting her guests know how You don't have to fly off the handle and fire your tenant over this, unless you want to. I am a landlord. I wouldn't want to fire a good tenant, have a worse tenant or no tenant at all and no money from the cabin I paid for! Good luck.
                  The armchair saddler
                  Politically Pro-Cat

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by wsmoak View Post
                    Are you sure she gave them permission? Her guests may have just assumed it was okay.

                    So, first this needs to be in writing, and second, she needs to control her guests.

                    "Hi Susie! I noticed something the other day and I just want to make sure we're all on the same page. I'm not sure if you're aware, but one of your guests was wandering around the other day and smoking near the hay. Besides the privacy concerns, that's a big liability for me and my insurance agent would have a heart attack. Can you please make sure your guests stay on your property in the future? I've updated The Rules to be clearer, here is a copy. I love having you here and I don't want this to be weird, so if you have any questions or there is something you think should be changed, let's talk about it!"
                    From your post, and not knowing the entire situation...this sounds quite innocent to me. It sounds like her guests were enjoying the scenery, and completely unaware that they were doing anything dangerous, wrong or obtrusive.

                    That said, I absolutely understand how you feel about the breach of your privacy, lack of common courtesy and potential liability. It’s also probably annoying to have to explain things that seem completely obvious to you.

                    I think a chat with your friend about your concerns is the way to go, as well as putting things in writing. An open dialogue with your friend, will help her to understand your position and keep things friendly between the two of you.

                    I think that putting up signs etc. (even ones necessary for insurance) without an explanation first, could make things get weird really fast.

                    Good luck!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Does your lease have a guest clause in it? Every time I’ve subletted from someone, there was a section about how long my guests could stay, etc. You need to add that in there if it’s not already and clearly outline how often they can stay and where they are and aren’t allowed on the property.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Time for a meeting with your tenant ... include your insurance agent or lawyer or an appropriate third person ...

                        the meeting’s agreements will need to be put in writing
                        signed by both tenant and owner

                        No Smoking !

                        The tenant is responsible for her guests and where / what they do
                        They are not allowed to wander into your areas/ barn...

                        This situation can get very HORRIBLE quickly !

                        Please don’t let this go .... needs to be addressed this week !

                        Be smart Be Safe !!!

                        * Get this all in writing and as an amendment to the lease document•


                        Yes .... no one meant any harm nor tht what they were doing was a hazard .....
                        however
                        this situation needs to be clarified and boundaries documented as part of the lease agreement before there is a mistake/accident • IMHO


                        Zu Zu Bailey " IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ! "

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          If it's the guests doing this out of sight of the tenant, and not the tenant, and the tenant is a reasonable person, I am sure they will see the point very easily. To me this is a no-brainer, why wouldn't you just run over there and knock on the door and say something ASAP? And why wouldn't you approach the guest right when you saw them? Tell them that smoking is not allowed on the property, and that strangers/visitors aren't allowed in the horse area unless accompanied by you. Why on earth wouldn't you say this the minute you saw it?

                          I'm at a self board barn with a public access policy (we are a nonprofit in the suburbs) and none of us have any qualms about telling tradesmen to put out their cigarettes, or telling public that they aren't allowed in certain areas. If we can all do this as we see problems arise in a place we don't actually own (but take a lot of ownership in), why on earth can't you patrol what strangers are doing *on your own property*?

                          I would use the occasion to tell the person a bit about horses, why they are or aren't safe, why you can't feed them, and invite them for a tour or a (paid) riding lesson at another time.

                          Are you just sitting in your house watching some random guest of the tenant snooping around with a lit cigarette and wondering if you dare say something? Why weren't you out there (preferably with a yappy cattle dog at heel more or less) right away to lay down the law? How is this even a question???

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I would TALK to them...politely and set the rules....some people don't understand manners and behavior on a horse farm....they think it is like a park or zoo with free roaming!
                            www.crosscreeksporthorses.com
                            Breeders of Painted Thoroughbreds and Uniquely Painted Irish Sport Horses in Northeast Oklahoma

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              If no one actually told the guest they couldn't wander around the farm, of course they are going to do so. The guest has no idea what the tenant actually rents or what the arrangement is. if there isn't a clear demarcation, like a 6 foot fence or prickly hedge with a locked gate in it, restless guests are going to go exploring just like a small child would. Why wouldn't they? Use your words.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Friend? I see warning flags of many kinds sprouting.

                                First, as posters said above, don't let this go, however you handle it. If you don't set boundaries now it will be far more difficult to do so later, after there have been more transgressions.

                                Second, do it all IN WRITING, and file it for posterity. Email is fine. However friendly your tone, be specific about what you want. This is for legal reasons as well as for clarity.

                                As has been pointed out by others above, this is a formal legal and business relationship regardless of how friendly you are with the tenant. Getting it in writing is for *your* protection even more than hers. You must be able to show that you spelled out the boundaries, or else those boundaries don't exist and you can't expect to enforce them.

                                Because there is more coming. Everything you described is the kind of thing that isn't going in a good direction. What you saw may just be poor judgment in action, or it may be something that could become more sinister (farm locations have lots of hidey holes, among other things). Your friend may or may not have known what those people were doing, but either way, they aren't the kind of people you want on the property and she probably has little or no control over them. But they will be back visiting her again.

                                It is very, very, very, very, very hard to be in a landlord relationship with a friend (or family member). Yes, it is going to test the relationship. Yes, it could end it. That's the biggest reason that I do not rent to friends/family - I want to preserve those relationships, and I don't want any awkward situations to spill over onto other relationships as well. If everything goes perfectly it will be fine. But that isn't realistic. If the tenant doesn't pay or if the landlord doesn't do repairs, etc. & so on, it is so much stickier than with an arms-length, business relationship between tenant and landlord.

                                You can be nice about it, but nonetheless be very clear that you and your friend are first and foremost landlord & tenant so long as she is living on your property. That's what you both signed up for. As advised by others above, do this thing correctly and legally every step, every day, even if with a cheerful, friendly tone.

                                If this is a situation where she may be thinking that she can take advantage, you are in a sticky situation unless you set the landlord-tenant boundaries and stick to them. Every day. It could come to that -- hopefully that isn't what is going on.

                                I hope my trouble-radar suspicions are wrong and this settles down comfortably for you both.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by wsmoak View Post
                                  Are you sure she gave them permission? Her guests may have just assumed it was okay.

                                  So, first this needs to be in writing, and second, she needs to control her guests.

                                  "Hi Susie! I noticed something the other day and I just want to make sure we're all on the same page. I'm not sure if you're aware, but one of your guests was wandering around the other day and smoking near the hay. Besides the privacy concerns, that's a big liability for me and my insurance agent would have a heart attack. Can you please make sure your guests stay on your property in the future? I've updated The Rules to be clearer, here is a copy. I love having you here and I don't want this to be weird, so if you have any questions or there is something you think should be changed, let's talk about it!"
                                  This is very nicely done.

                                  I probably wouldn't include "I love having you here and I don't want this to be weird." Just straight on to "If you have any questions ... "

                                  You don't want to send a signal that could be misinterpreted that you are going to keep her there regardless of what she does. You aren't. Because the truth is that if certain things occur (including her not paying, etc.) that mean that eventually this doesn't work out for you, there may be awkwardness to come. Hopefully it doesn't go that way. But don't send mixed messages.

                                  Attaching a copy of The Rules is excellent. If you haven't lined those out before, you can say "I don't think I remembered to send you a copy of The Rules, so apologies for my oversight! I've attached them below." Even if you just invented them!

                                  Going forward, manage your tone with your friend to be that of a cheerful landlord, rather than as a friend. As I said above, being in a landlord-tenant relationship with a friend means that the two of you are landlord-tenant first, then friendly. Yes, it changes your relationship. It is so much easier to pass through that portal now than to try to do it later.

                                  Remember this, if if helps: Your tenant is living inside of one of your most significant financial assets. How important is that piece of your property to you, both personally and financially? Put your own interests first and then you can be as kind as you can afford to be. But always be very, very clear in your own mind that this asset is a huge part of both your current and your future financial picture. Defend it as necessary.

                                  You can do this! And you and your friend will both be in a better situation as a result, because you'll be backing up the authority she needs to have with her visitors.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Everything between landlord and tenant needs to be written down, and signed by both parties to be enforceable. If you tell your tenant that there is no smoking off the patio or some other hard surface, and limit where tenant, and guests can wander, do it in writing. If the tenant refuses to sign, or gets upset and moves out, then that's better than having something set on fire by one of her visitors, or have one of them get hurt on your property. I'm hoping you have a written lease, but if not do one now, and get it signed immediately.

                                    Being a landlord means you have to do things the legal way, with written and signed contracts, and no breaks for anyone because they're a friend, or they give you a sad story, or because you don't want them to get mad at you. This is a business relationship, so run it like one.
                                    You can't fix stupid-Ron White

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I read the OP's initial post to say that guests of the tenant were wandering out of doors without being accompanied by the tenant, maybe even while the tenant was occupied (in the shower, napping, away at work). perhaps the tenant doesn't allow smoking on her rented property? Anyhow, nothing here suggested that the *tenant* was the problem, but rather guests of the tenant that may be acting without the tenant's knowledge or permission.

                                      I would warn off any guest I saw out of bounds at the time.

                                      Then I would follow up with a personal chat with the tenant. It's not Ok for the guests to be wandering around the property by themselves and certainly not smoking. I had to talk to one of your guests today. Maybe you could warn them in the future this is not OK.

                                      Then I would follow up with a brief e-mail. Just confirming what we spoke about today. Your guests should not be entering the horse property areas without me present, and they should not be smoking anywhere near the barns, property, pasture, etc for fire risks. If you could warn them in future that would solve a lot of problems.

                                      Then I would put up some signs on the direct trail from tenant property to barns. No smoking and please do not enter the horse areas without the property owner present.

                                      If there are no further problems, it's solved. If a particular guest is repeatedly out of bounds you will need to appraoch that guest again and speak more strongly, and you will need to have a discussion with the tenant about having that guest, or continuing with the rental.

                                      But until you actually speak up, no one knows that you don't like it,. So you need to speak up.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Scribbler View Post
                                        If no one actually told the guest they couldn't wander around the farm, of course they are going to do so. The guest has no idea what the tenant actually rents or what the arrangement is. if there isn't a clear demarcation, like a 6 foot fence or prickly hedge with a locked gate in it, restless guests are going to go exploring...
                                        This makes sense. It the actual tenant casually describes their living conditions as "I live on a horse farm" - and who wouldn't? - it might give the impression the whole property is open to her/her guests. Also the tenant being a friend of the property owner might add to the guests getting the impression of a fairly casual air to the whole arrangement. Some friendly clarification is in order: along the lines of some of the very good suggestions already made in this thread.


                                        No matter where you go, there you are

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