Tennant stopped paying rent, refuses to leave and is using the house as a tool to threaten my family

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New York
In 2010, Myself and my Partner started saving to purchase our first home. We both worked full time and lived with our parents so that we could save for a down payment. In 2013 we identified a home within our price range, thanks to the NYS first time home buyers club program for lower income folks like us. We purchased the home, which required substantial repairs, for 117k. For the next four years we put our blood sweat and tears into the house to make it a home.

In March of 2024 JH informed us, verbally, that her husband had moved out and she would be taking over the lease [a lease agreement which was between myself as the landlord, BH as the responsible Tennant and JH and her girls as residents of the home]. March was the last time we received the rent payment in full. We had successfully rented to the H's since 2020 for the agreed-upon monthly rent of $1850. They both were shocked at how low the price was, as they were about to rent a small apartment for the same price. We explained to them that we were looking for people whom would take good care of our home, which we planned on moving back into after finishing the work on our 40K auction house in MNY. We wanted people whom would maintain the extensive gardens I had created and understood the water situation, which is well known on C. Road [there are few neighbors that actually use their water on our end of C. road, but instead purchase water, which was fully explained to both BH and JH at the time, they did not care because the rent was so low they would purchase water if they had to]. The heavy iron content in the area requires continued use of the water softener, regular cleaning of the softener head and use of the iron-fighter salt; if they were to use the water. Over the 3+ years the H'S's lived there, they successfully utilized the softener [or purchased water]. Over the years we have been sent hundreds of text messages and e-mails thanking us for being amazing landlords and people, bending over backwards to accommodate their requests [i.e. when they wanted to store their boat, RV, trampoline, chickens, etc. on our formerly well landscaped ¾ acre property]. Wanting to give back to our community and understanding that as humans we were put on this plant to help those in need, we never raised the rent or charged a late fee; despite it slowly becoming unaffordable for us [we are by no means wealthy, both work full time, and have families that rely on us financially] to continue to rent for the 2020 for the agreed-upon monthly rent of $1850. We promptly responded to all required home repairs over the years, taking on a loan to afford the 20k new roof we put on the home in 2023. When ants appeared in the house, we hired a pest control service to regularly come and spray, and have maintained that service since. Again, we have never received a complaint, but rather the opposite, extreme gratitude for temporarily renting our home this this family.

In April of 2024, it was noticed that the oil tank [filling of the oil, and keeping it filled, is the Tennant responsibility per the extensive lease agreement] was near empty, if not empty. Following explanation in the dangers of running an oil tank dry, JH put a small amount of oil in the tank, despite knowing that the tank was full at the time of 2020 move-in, and needed to be full upon departure of the home. Again, in June, the tank is near empty and JH will not inform us if she plans on putting any more oil in it.

In April of 2024, following a routine spraying by Orkin pest control, termites appeared in the house. JH sent us photos and we immediately headed to the house to begin remediation activities, which took most of the day. At no point during the day did JH indicate that she felt unsafe in the house, on the contrary, her daughters asked if they could watch K. and I work. Once we had the wall in the living room open, site of infestation, we had Orkin come back to spray. Orkin advised us to open the wall, replace any wood that needed replacement, and leave it open for a week, at which time they would return the following week to come in and spray. As the day proceeded, we kept inquiring if JH was o.k. with the wall left open and we had placed sticky traps around in case any further bugs came out of that wall. JH's daughters had a friend come over for a sleepover that night and that friend's father was there as we were working and he also said the situation was fine, again, no indication of feeling uncomfortable or unsafe [as we would have made alternate housing accommodations, and JH, knowing us as good people, understands this]. During the hours that JH spent watching us work, as the family never left the house, not even to go outside as we carefully opened the walls, she talked to us about BH and the Divorce situation, reassuring us that she had plenty of savings stashed away to pay for the rent, perhaps because she knows that we don't have much money and this situation is costing us a fortune. We were all friendly and we left with her reassurances that she was o.k. with living with the open wall for a week.

On April 15th, when we had not received the rent check for the month, due on the 15th, we inquired and JH stated that she was about to mail the bank issued rent check but since we would be coming back over the weekend, she would just hand it to us then. That following weekend, we arrived at our home and after Orkin sprayed again we started sealing up the wall. We explained to JH that we needed to end the lease, but wanted her daughters to be able to finish out the school year, so long as she could pay the rent. At no point did we explicitly state that she could stay until July 1st; since we had not received the rent, but rather informed her that we would send a formal e-mail notification of the lease date end. JH was elated as she stated that she had located an apartment in Hyde Park, but everything was just too expensive. JH explained that something happened with her accounts and was unable to pay us the rent, but reassured us both verbally and in writing that she would have it to us by the 30th; understanding that we were struggling financially [I had explained that I just took a major pay cut at work] and that we relied on that rent to keep our own family safe. She further explained that she was looking for a third job. Later she came back outside as I was taking care of the landscape and explained to me that she was so gratefully for allowing her to move our as she was no longer capable of taking care of my home, particularly the jobs that were formerly the responsibility of her husband, such as yard work, filling the oil tank, running and maintaining the softener and most of the other items listed in the lease agreement.

On April 29th we sent JH a text message inquiring as to when we might be able to pick up the rent check. She replied that she would not have the money by the 30th, but would have it by the 1st of May. As we had not received the rent for April, and JH stated that she would no longer be taking care of the house, and several other concerns with her residing in our home any further, we sent an e-mail notice on 04/30/2024 to both BH [since his name is on the Lease, and JH was just a resident, and only a verbal leaseholder – leaseholder of which she was already in violation of several clauses] and JH that we would be ending the Lease May 31st, 2024. JH immediately reacted having her family advocate send us an e-mail to make it seem as though we were somehow in the wrong; when we were doing our best to protect our own family as well as BH and JH's daughters knowing full-well that JH was not only not equipped to take care of our home but had already made threats against it by stating she would no longer be caring for it. I did my best explaining this situation calmly to the family advocate, expressing my concerns with her continuing any further to reside in my home but the advocate insisted that this was best for their daughters.

On May 20th the threats and harassment by JH upon our family were in full force. She sent us an e-mail notification that the water had become so brown that it had stained her daughter's skin [we are still unsure as to why she did not notify us immediately as to when she stopped using the water softener, or noticed the water was getting discolored, but from her actions and knowing her character after 3+ years we can only assume this was a manipulative and intent-filled tactic on her part]. There is a $15 a month gym with showers within a few miles of the house, and will all the money she is saving in not paying rent, and with her refusal to maintain the water softer, logic may say that perhaps in lieu or harming your children or harming another person's property that you might try and take a shower at the gym, use the laundromat like most of the neighbors; but JH has chosen to terrorize our family instead. [I understand that proving potable water is a responsibility of a landlord, which is why we got the softener running for her as soon as she allowed us into our home, but the water conditions or softener functionality have not changed since 2020]. She further notified us that she was still seeing termites in the living area of the house [again, unsure as to why she would not want to immediately notify us as to this situation, as we all received the lecture from Orkin as to keeping the grounds around the house well maintained so as not to attract pests, but again, we can only assume that she wants to cause as much harm as possible to our home in retaliation to our family in asking her to leave our home since she was no longer paying rent and had threatened us in stating she would not be taking care of our house. When we immediately responded and headed to the house and ran the softener through a regeneration cycle, with the push of a button, and more salt placed in the tank, which has been showed to JH on multiple occasions [but she claims this is BH's job, not hers, and she is not comfortable doing it]. Although no indication of any additional termite activity was found, or has been found from the most recent 2 visits when she allowed us into the home, we immediately called Orkin and arranged a time with JH, since she will not allow us into the home for maintenance without her presence.

Since the May 20th E-mail, she has sent us weekly e-mails with similar situations, further terrorizing my family.

At this time, we understand in full she is now using the house as a tool to make threats against us and create hazardous situations to make us appear as some type of neglectful landlords of a house, which is our home; so, she does not have to ever leave, pay rent, or take care of the house. This woman will do and say anything to get her way and has no regard for the truth or other people. I particularly realize that I will have to live in fear for the rest of my life from this woman's retaliatory and threating behavior and am unsure what to do; but we did allow this family into our home in 2020, so I have to take some blame. If we begin the eviction process, we fear of (1) what type hazardous situation she will create in our home for her family and (2) we fear any further intentional destruction of our home. We are looking for anyone to help this woman cease the harassment and terror she is inflicting upon my family.
I gave up after a couple of paragraphs.

Virtually all of your narrative is irrelevant and a colossal waste of time.

When a tenant fails to pay the rent when due, you evict for non-payment of rent. It's that simple, even in NY.

If fear paralyzes you, you hire a lawyer.

That's all the advice anybody here can give you.

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