Figurehead tenant and nightmare orchestrated by co-tenants
Margit has 1 year experience as a landlord.
Rendin compensated €3,440.
Landlord Margit's first rental turned out to be an experience that sounds like the worst nightmare. Now, she looks back on it with humour and calls the story a true soap opera. Fortunately, Margit was able to transfer the majority of the burden to Rendin, who provided her with legal support and compensated for the rental damage of thousands of euros.
Margit's journey as a landlord began quite traditionally by today's standards. As the family grew, they needed a larger residence. So, a 4-room apartment was exchanged for a house near the city. The previous home was retained, which gave Margit the idea to rent out the apartment.
"We enlisted the help of the real estate agent Helerin, who handled the rental process for us. Interestingly, she introduced us to Rendin," recalls landlord Margit about her first encounter with the platform of secure rental agreements.
"In light of my own experience, I can confidently say, don't rent at all if you're not using Rendin," concludes the landlord, summing up her instructive story.
Without Rendin, don't rent out at all.”– Margit, the landlord
In March of this year, Margit rented out her apartment. When Janek* and his girlfriend Merily* came to view the potential rental home, they confirmed their interest in renting but also stated that they would be co-tenants. The responsible tenant (who signs the agreement) was supposed to be Janek's 19-year-old brother, Rasmus*. Later on, as the story unfolded, it became clear that there was no family connection between the young men.
"In hindsight, there were dubious signs that I didn't take seriously at the time. Firstly, I didn't trust my instincts enough. Secondly, there could have been reasonable explanations for everything," reflects Margit. When asked what she means, she lists: "Rasmus, the main tenant, was not present at the scene. Janek had previously lived abroad in Southern Europe (read: was in a detention facility), but suddenly he returned, and he couldn't be found when searched online."
As events unfolded, it later emerged that Rasmus didn't actually live in Margit's rental apartment; he was simply a figurehead. "The primary tenant was still Janek, along with his partner. Somehow, he managed to manipulate Rasmus into fulfilling his requests. Their common denominator was mental health issues, which might have played a role."
Margit adds that Janek repeatedly promised Rasmus that he would transfer the rental agreement into his own name, but it never happened.
The first month's rent was paid, but problems arose with the payment of the second month's rent and additional expenses. "I was helpful and offered various payment options. The tenant kept making empty promises that the debt would be cleared."
During communication with Merily, it became apparent that the couple of co-tenants had fallen out, and the woman moved out of the apartment. Additionally, she later told Margit that they had taken out a quick loan just to make the first rent payment. There were further outstanding debts, indicated by envelopes that had arrived in the apartment's mailbox by various service providers.
The landlord's interest was to terminate the rental agreement as quickly as possible. The parties reached a conclusion, and they terminated the agreement ordinarily in the second half of April.
The termination rules of a rental agreement are regulated by the Law of Obligations Act. If the parties agree on different terms, then these are valid only concerning the weaker party, i.e. the tenant, in the eyes of the law.
Regular termination of a termless agreement
The termination is possible unilaterally without the consent of the other party. Either side has to give a notice of 3 months in advance. The notice must be in reproducible form, i.e., in writing.
Of course, the agreement can be terminated earlier than 3 months, but this requires approval from both the landlord and the tenant.
PS! A fixed-term agreement (not provided by Rendin) can't be terminated prematurely, unless both parties agree.
Extraordinary termination of both termless and fixed-term agreement
This is allowed if the reason for termination is significant enough and continuing the contract is no longer in the interest of both parties.
A relevant example is the tenant's arrears in rent and/or utility payments. Yet it's crucial to know that there must have been a prior warning for delayed payments for an extraordinary termination to be valid. After the late payment warning, the tenant has 14 days to settle the debt.
When Margit reclaimed her rental home, she found a living space that looked nothing like it did during the initial handover. "Mom, what did they do to our home?" was my son's first question when he accompanied me that day. The well-maintained and clean apartment had turned into a filthy living space with multiple damages," reveals Margit.
"Dirt and soot were everywhere. Cigarette butts were scattered around, their burn marks visible on both the sofa and armchairs. The sofa was full of holes and stained with dirt, and the coffee table was broken. The dining table was covered in marks, scratches, and dents. One of the beds was practically falling apart, with the fittings loose and broken. Don't even get me started on the carpets," describes the landlord, detailing a long list of property damages. Additionally, a remote control used to access the apartment building's parking lot was missing.
Rasmus, the tenant responsible under the rental agreement, was present during the preparation of the second handover act. He acknowledged the situation, having no objections. Margit notes sadly that unfortunately, Rasmus couldn't be of much help: "He admitted he was unemployed and lacked the financial means to compensate for the problems caused by his co-tenants. I couldn't help but feel sorry for him, getting caught up in such a mess."
Mommy, what did they do to our home, was my son's reaction when seeing the apartment. – Margit, the landlord
The tenants had a large breed dog that was neglected and kept confined to one room most of the time. "The lack of care for the animal was evident from the numerous scratch marks on the furniture. Usually, pets start misbehaving when they have excess energy and hunger for attention," explains Margit. "In the room with the dog, a rug had been laid out, presumably containing the animal's feces; it was horribly dirty and soiled."
Margit also mentions that fortunately, co-tenant Merily made a sensible decision and surrendered the dog to an animal shelter.
Rendin's legal team advised Margit on the legal aspects, guiding her on the precise steps to take for both terminating the agreement and filing a damage claim. Additionally, the company compensated the landlord for the unpaid rent and utility bills as well as the property damage.
"When rental issues arose, I initially contacted the agent, who directed me to Rendin. From there, I received helpful guidance on what to do," says the landlord. "From there on, whenever I felt overwhelmed, I knew I could call Rendin. There was constant communication and exchange of information between us. I could always reach out to both the lawyer and the customer support specialist promptly," Margit shares her experiences.
The landlord believes that it's essential to act quickly when problems arise. "Especially because there are certain waiting periods in the law (such as in the case of regular termination of a termless agreement or sending a late payment warning) designed for the tenant to respond. It means you can't terminate the rental relationship overnight when a debt occurs."
In conclusion, Margit comments that using Rendin provides peace of mind. "I can receive competent advice from legal experts whenever I need it, and I get compensation for the damage caused by a tenant who doesn't take responsibility for their actions."
Rental and utility bills compensation
Property damage compensation
Landlord's financial loss
"While Rendin's background check primarily focuses on detecting payment defaults, landlords should conduct additional research themselves. This can include using Google and social media platforms, as well as checking criminal records," advises Margit.
She also adds that if meeting a potential tenant gives you a bad feeling, it's crucial to trust your instincts and consider rejecting the applicant if necessary.
Useful: What results can you expect from Rendin's background check?
"When meeting potential tenants, think ahead of standard questions you'd like to ask each candidate. Some inquiries can be made over the phone or through written communication but sometimes the tone of their response, body language, or reactions in person can be essential," explains the landlord. She considers this advice one of the most important aspects that shouldn't be underestimated.
If not all tenants or co-tenants are present, inquire about the reasons.
Why is the tenant looking for a new rental home?
Where else have they lived, and how long have their previous rental relationships lasted?
"After the whole rental saga, when the apartment was in exemplary condition again, new tenants moved in. They are delightful foreigners," Margit says cheerfully. "Their local employer assisted in finding accommodation and provided their contact details in case any issues or misunderstandings arise. It created additional assurance."
"Based on my experience, I can confidently say that people who have moved from abroad to live in Estonia should not be treated with prejudice. If the tenant is willing to be here, has a stable job, and can communicate effectively, it doesn't matter what nationality they are. A good tenant is a good tenant," affirms the landlord.
"Neighbours can be of great help if, as a landlord, you encounter problematic tenants – so it's worthwhile to maintain good relations with them. They are your eyes and ears in case anything suspicious happens," Margit advises.
She mentions that sometimes even small pieces of information can be helpful, providing significant hints or warnings. For instance, excessive noise, constant partying, a stream of different acquaintances in and out, or disrespectful behavior towards other residents.
Useful: What to do if a tenant disturbs the peace of neighbours?
Article cover image: Canva
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