G.M. from South Carolina writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I own a condo in a small complex in downtown Charleston, and there are two other condos within the same complex. I’ve rented out my condo to a new individual who moved into the apartment in March. On Friday past, I receive an e-mail from the landlord of the condo below mine, requesting I “get rid of my tenant due to nuisance behavior and possible illegal activities”. Being duly concerned I contacted this landlord to find out what was going on, specifically outlining concern for all tenants and asking what proof he has of these infractions. I told him that if indeed this was the case, then he should call the police with our full support. We agreed that he was going to visit with his tenant in the next 24 hours and discuss the situation with her. A day went by, and we later get an e-mail stating they were able to “deescalate” the situation for the time being and that they were going to consult with “Livability Charleston Government Staff” who are supposedly the controlling department for these types of situations. I’ve never heard of this organization and can’t seem to find anything about them
As it stands, we’re still unaware of what these nuisance/illegal activity claims are based upon, but my concern is that the landlord is the chairman of the governing HOA. Does this give him power to write to me and tell me to “get rid of” my tenant when there seems to be absolutely no grounds? I was also concerned that he started mentioning “the liability lies with you”. I still don’t really know what he meant by this and frankly I find it quite baffling. Are you able to shed any light on this? it seems strange that without proof of infractions, I’m merely being told by the HOA to evict my tenant because his tenant has had some type of disagreement which as yet, is unknown?
Mister Condo replies:
G.M., I am sorry that you have to deal with an overreaching HOA Board President. No, he has no special powers to force you to evict your tenant. Yes, he can alert you to potential problems. Eviction is a lengthy and legal process. Your tenant has rights. You have rights. The association has the right to enforce its covenants, which may include eviction, but it isn’t done with a phone call. If you consult your governing documents, you can read all about the rights of landlords (you), renters (your tenant), and the role of the Board with regards to governing both. I know nothing of the Livability Charleston Government Staff and their powers to enforce city ordinances. A quick look at their website – https://www.charleston-sc.gov/1380/Livability-Tourism would indicate that they do have some powers but even they would be bound by the law. If your tenant is doing something illegal, you would be wise to know what the issue is. If their activity puts you or your investment at risk and your lease agreement allows for an eviction based on such activities, I would suggest you speak with your own attorney to see what your options are. If it is a 12-month lease, sometimes your best option is to allow the lease to expire and not offer renewal. All the best!