Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I have a modest rental in a student neighborhood. I need the income
to supplement my retirement. Seven years ago I rented to a very nice
young man, a house painter. Because he seemed so responsible, I
slowly lightened up on my visits to check on the property. When he
started being late on the rent his father covered for him. But then I
got an email two weeks ago saying he had “fallen on hard times” and
was moving out. Not the 30 days the lease requires. When I went by I
found out that he had two dogs! I’d been explicit about no dogs when
he rented. Then I found out he’d been using the place as a marijuana
“grow house.” In addition to the legal issues, the dirt and water ruined
the carpets. I had to spend $6K to get the house rentable again,
money I do not have. I know you cannot get blood from a stone, but I
am angry and out a lot of money. What to do?


Dear Landlady:

You have a clear choice. Eat the costs, or try to get your former tenant
(or more likely his father) to share them with you. He may do it
willingly (unlikely) or motivated by the threat (or reality) of a lawsuit.
Given the litigious branch on this decision tree, I would encourage
sticking to written communication. That&'s also consistent with how he&'s
communicated with you.


Try your luck with this message.
Dear Renter/Dad: When you gave me notice you neither paid the last
month nor gave me the 30 days warning explicitly required in the
rental agreement. Also you used the house in ways that were not
authorized in the lease. When you rented we specifically discussed the
no dogs rule. Using the house to grow marijuana is a clear violation
of appropriate use. The aggregate of pets and agriculture made a
mess of the rugs and walls. It has cost me more than $6K to re-carpet
and paint. While I understand there are normal maintenance costs
associated with rentals, these are neither among them nor appropriate
given what you signed when you rented. The $6K is an outrageous
amount that I do not feel I should have to bear alone. I’m asking you
to step up and share the costs with me. If I do not have a positive
reply and a check from you within two weeks, I shall be forced to
consult an attorney.

If this works you can decide if that&'s a sufficient contribution. If not,
you&'re back to paying it yourself or suing.