The Cross Law Firm's Landlord Law Blog

May 21, 2010

Evict the Resident for Rule Violation or Substantial Annoyance

This is part 9 of my blog series about dealing with threatening and violent residents.  This post specifically applies to the Manufactured Housing Community and Mobilehome Park Owners.

As you are aware, a resident can be evicted for threatening and aggressive behavior either under violation of a reasonable rule and regulation (798.56(d)) and/or a substantial annoyance eviction (798.56(b)). By indicating in your rules that this type of behavior is prohibited and constitutes a substantial annoyance, and by serving the appropriate notices and obtaining substantial documentation supporting this (written witness statements, restraining orders, police reports etc.), a 60-day notice for termination of tenancy can be a very effective way to protect the employee against an abusive, violent resident.

* For specific inquiries regarding a threatening/violent tenant you may have, you’re welcome to visit my California Manufactured Housing Community Owners legal services page.

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May 12, 2010

Obtain a Restraining Order for the Employee Against the Resident

This is part 8 of my blog series about dealing with threatening and violent residents.

Image of Stressed EmployeeIf the behavior by the resident is physically threatening or violent, a restraining order prohibiting the resident from having contact with the employee may be the best solution. A restraining order is actually a stay away order prohibiting the resident from harassing, threatening, assaulting and contacting the employee and requiring the resident to stay a certain amount of feet away from the employee.

A restraining order consists of the employee (or attorney of employee) filling out temporary restraining order forms and filing them with the appropriate court. These forms can be obtained on the Internet and downloaded. Most court websites provide these forms along with simple instructions on how to fill them out.

After the papers are filed with the court, a judge typically reviews the paperwork and takes testimony of the employees seeking the restraining order to determine if there is an imminent threat to the employee posed by the resident. Employees seeking restraining orders should make sure they have any police reports or witness statements with them prior to seeing the judge. The initial court appearance for a restraining order is to seek a temporary order at which a hearing for a permanent order will be set within a few weeks. At the hearing for the permanent injunction, the resident will be requested to appear and will have an opportunity to present evidence and defend him or herself. If at the hearing, the judge believes the restraining order is necessary to protect the employee, the order will stay in effect for three years.

Since the resident resides in the community where the manager/employee works and lives, the judge may modify the order to address this, such as by reducing the number of feet the resident must stay away from the employee or by requiring the resident to drop his rent in the drop box after hours to avoid resident contact with the manager/on-site employee. The restraining order should include the employee’s family members or others living on-site with the employee.

* For specific inquiries regarding a threatening/violent tenant you may have, you’re welcome to visit my California Manufactured Housing Community Owners legal services page.

May 5, 2010

Serve a Notice for Rule Violation

This is part 7 of my blog series about dealing with threatening and violent residents.  Again, this blog series is targeted at owners of mobilehome parks (“communities”) which are subject to the Mobilehome Residency Law (Civil Code Section 798.1 et seq.) The notice requirements will differ for apartment owners and property management companies that manage apartments or other non-mobilehome/manufactured housing residential units.  The notices provided to dangerous tenants in apartment/rental units  are typically a 3 day notice to cure or quit or a 3 day notice to quit, instead of  a 7 day notice for a rule violation that is required under the Mobilehome Residency Law.

Image of 7-Day Notice being crumpledUpon an incident of a resident’s behavior becoming abusive or threatening, have your attorney send a 7-day notice to the resident notifying them that the behavior toward the management will not be tolerated and it constitutes a substantial annoyance and is a violation of the rules and regulations. Cite the specific rule prohibiting abusive, threatening behavior toward the employee in the 7-day notice. Again be specific in the notice as to exactly what was said by the resident, what actions were displayed, dates and witnesses.

Service of a 7-day notice for rule violation not only protects the threatened employee and sets up the resident’s file for an eviction, but it also protects the owner who is now taking reasonable steps to address a potentially dangerous situation.

* For specific inquiries regarding a threatening/violent tenant you may have, you’re welcome to visit my California Landlord – Tenant legal services page.

April 29, 2010

Call the Police, Make a Report

This is part 6 of my blog series about dealing with threatening and violent residents.

Image of Police OfficerAgain, workplace violence incidents will differ substantially and the specifics of each situation will dictate which response should be taken, if any, and in which order.  In many cases it is necessary to

Call the police, make a report

The most obvious action an employee can and should take if the resident displayed threatening or violent behavior towards them is to call the police to come out and make a police report. Again, whether this option is appropriate, depends on the facts of the situation. If the police are called, get the officer’s name, the incident report number and a copy of the report for your file.

* For specific inquiries regarding a threatening/violent tenant you may have, you’re welcome to visit my California Landlord – Tenant legal services page.

April 15, 2010

Procedures After Aggressive/Violent Behavior by a Resident has Occurred

This is the part 5 of my blog series about dealing with threatening and violent residents.

Image of woman looking out of blinds at stalkerIf there has been behavior by a resident towards an employee that has been threatening or harassing, you want to make sure to address it immediately. Examples of abusive or threatening behavior can vary from minor to extreme, but all should be addressed. An example of harassing or abusive behavior would be a resident stalking, yelling at and/or using profanities toward the employee. An example of a threat of violence by a resident would be the resident telling the employee: “you’re going to get it,” “you’ll be sorry,” or “I’m going to kill you.”

Acts of aggression toward the employee could be damaging an employee’s property. More serious acts of violence toward the employee could be a resident pushing, striking or physically harming the employee. These are just a few examples and even though the severities of each differ, all of these examples warrant attention and should be stopped.

If aggressive/violent behavior occurs, have the employee make a written account of what happened, the date, time and any witnesses. Make sure that the employee is specific as to details. Write down exactly what was said (“he yelled at me that he was going to hurt me”), what actions were taken (“he waived his fist inches from my face.”) Have the employee sign and date the statement. Talk to any witnesses, have the witnesses prepare a written account of the event and have them sign and date the statement. Forward these statements to your attorney.

* For specific inquiries regarding a threatening/violent tenant you may have, you’re welcome to visit my California Landlord – Tenant legal services page.

April 9, 2010

Procedures & Training Regarding the Handling of Difficult Residents

This is the part 4 of my blog series about dealing with threatening and violent residents.

Image of Seminar AudienceThere are several seminars or guidelines instructing managers/employees on how to handle difficult residents. If your manager or on site employee hasn’t already taken a course regarding this, send them. Document their training, who went and when, and keep the information in your files. The information they receive may be invaluable both in recognizing a potential problem situation before it occurs and defusing it, but also in appropriately handling a volatile situation when it occurs.

Use the materials received or contact your legal counsel to create your own guidelines or policy regarding violence in the workplace. Train your employees on this policy.

Some basic suggestions to have in your policy:

  1. Buddy System – Have a buddy system for dealing with angry residents so that the manager or employee is not alone or they have someone to call to assist them when/if an angry resident confronts them. Just having another person in the room may help defuse the situation.
  2. Separate Room – Have a separate room with a lock on the door and a phone for the manager or employee to go to if needed.
  3. Contact Police – Ensure the employee knows when it is appropriate to contact the police for help. Emergency situations must be addressed promptly.
  4. Signals – Have signals or code words to alert other employees when a manager or employee needs help.

Contact your legal counsel to assist you in creating a policy that is appropriate for your office and employees.

* For specific inquiries regarding a threatening/violent tenant you may have, you’re welcome to visit my California Landlord – Tenant legal services page.

March 31, 2010

Written Complaint Policy

This is the 3rd part of my blog series about dealing with threatening and violent residents.

Image of Complaint BoxAnother policy I have found helpful in minimizing resident aggression towards management or on site employees is to require all non-emergency resident complaints to be in writing, placed in a complaint drop box and forwarded to the owner, management company or the attorney for appropriate handling.

This policy does several things:

1)  A written resident complaint policy with a drop box reduces managers or onsite employees from having to receive face to face complaints from residents that can often lead to escalating tempers and aggressive behavior by the resident towards the employee. The face-to-face encounter typically places the manager in a defensive position, which can be uncomfortable and problematic.

2) This policy takes (or appears to take) the decision-making regarding the handling of resident complaints out of the manager or on site employee’s control. Therefore the manager can “pass the buck” that the owner and/or attorney makes the decision on how a particular complaint is handled and can appear to be only a messenger of the complaints. Whether or not the manager actually makes the decision on how to handle the complaint is irrelevant, it is the appearance that the manager is not making the decision that is important. This may help alleviate resident backlash against the manager or on-site employee. Furthermore, the statement that all complaints will be handled “appropriately” depending on the circumstance, means that each complaint will be reviewed and a determination will be made as to which actions, if any, will be taken. It does not promise that every complaint will receive a response nor will every complaint receive action.

3)  Requiring that all resident complaints be in writing, signed and dated can help reduce notice issues where the resident claims they gave verbal notice of the problem or complaint to the management.

* For specific inquiries regarding a threatening/violent tenant you may have, you’re welcome to visit my California Landlord – Tenant legal services page.

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