I recently watched a true-to-life episode of “ID” and the program was about a female tenant who was being evicted for non-payment of rent.  The tenant, who had resided in the building for over five years actually had a good relationship with her landlord, even though she constantly failed to pay her rent.  The tenant was upset at her landlord, a woman in her 60’s, for finally starting an eviction process.

The tenant convinced her brother to act as a prospective renter and he scheduled a viewing of another vacancy. After luring the landlord into the empty unit, the female tenant entered the unit and strangled the landlord with a cord from an iron, killing her.

That program prompted me to do some searching.  The below is what I found.

Convicted Felon Kills Landlord Over $30 Rent Increase

March, 2018: A Wisconsin man was accused of killing his landlord over a $30 increase in his rent.  The tenant now faces charges of possession of a firearm by a felon and intentional homicide.

Brooklyn Park Man Severely Beats Landlord

With Ax After Eviction Attempt

November, 2017: A tenant facing eviction from his Brooklyn Park apartment beat his landlord nearly to death with an ax, according to criminal charges. The landlord, who had recently purchased the building, had started eviction proceedings for non-payment of rent.

A witness said the landlord knocked on the tenant’s door and when the door was opened, the landlord was attacked and struck on the head with an ax.

Cudahy Tenant Arrested For Fatally Shooting Landlord

March, 2018: Cudahy tenant arrested for fatally shooting landlord

A citizen said that a man left during the evening on March 1 to check on his rental property in Cudahy and never returned. When police checked the garage of the rental property they found the missing man dead. After an investigation, officials determined the man died of gunshot wounds.Cudahy police questioned a 37-year-oldCudahyman who was the tenant of the rental property. The man was later arrested and was charged with intentional homicide and hiding a corpse.

Property Dispute – Tenant Kills Two Landlords Over Back Rent

April, 2018:  Police found the bodies of two landlords – a 45-year-old man and his step-mother, a 55 year-old woman, co-owners of a rental inTuscolaCounty’sWatertownTownship.  Both victims died of gunshot wounds when they tried to collect $1,800 in back rent.

Police said the tenant was a probation absconder after failing to abide by terms related to a methamphetamine conviction.

Tenants Killed Landlord, Lived With Body for Two Weeks

February, 2017: Clearwater:  Officers believe the landlord had been dead for about two weeks. During those two weeks, police say the tenants lived in the house with their landlord’s dead body.

Tenant Kills Landlord in Irving

January 2018 –Irving, Texas: A 50-year old tenant was suspected in the murder of a 58-year old landlord. The victim owned the home where the homicide occurred and the suspect was a tenant who resided there.  The motive for the shooting was uncertain but detectives believe the tenant was facing eviction due to delinquent rent payments.

BAD LAW NEEDS TO CHANGE:  It is illegal to refuse to rent to someone because of past drug use, though you can consider a history of drug manufacturing and dealing. California prohibits any consumer report from including arrests, indictments or misdemeanors that did not result in a conviction, or crimes that are spent by more than seven years.

If you reject an applicant based on these factors, you’re likely committing arbitrary discrimination. In other words, you have to look beyond the crime at the facts and circumstances surrounding the individual conduct.  Property owners should have to RIGHT TO DECIDE who they rent to.  Stay out of our business!

Safety Tips for Landlords

Below are a few things to keep in mind to assure your safety:

  • Fill out an AOA Guest Card to gather all information on your prospective renters and get a photo ID before showing a unit.
  • When showing units, bring someone with you and keep the prospective tenant’s driver’s license in a secure location, locked up in an office.
  • When meeting the tenant on location, make sure to inform another person of your whereabouts when showing a vacancy.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and the behavior of your potential tenant.
  • Leave the front door open and always let the other person enter a room before you do
  • Hold an “open house” during the day and have several applicants apply at once.
  • Avoid confrontations with tenants at all costs; remain unemotional in all circumstances and do not escalate a conflict
  • Treat all tenants with respect but remember that you are a business; not a therapist or a loan officer.
  • Avoid nighttime showings.
  • Have a neutral party or hire an attorney’s office to serve 3-Day Pay or Move-Out notices.
  • Once an eviction procedure begins, let the attorney handle it from there, do not visit or speak the tenant.  Have your tenant deal directly with the attorney’s office.

You should always be cautious and aware especially today, with the laws in place protecting those who have criminal backgrounds.  Some people are unpredictable while others are high-risk.

Patricia Harris is Senior Editor of AOA’s News and Buyers Guide.