Dealing with tenant mental health issues

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In light of the UCLA shootings, thought I’d spend some time today writing about an under-appreciated problem in property management: Dealing with tenants with mental health issues.

If you supply rental housing in Los Angeles, your tenant base will skew towards people in their 20s and 30s.

Unfortunately, the mid 20s is usually the time in which schizophrenia manifests itself. And schizophrenia is implicated in many of the mass shootings you read about in the newspaper.

If you manage enough apartments for long enough, even with very strong tenant screening, you will end up having one or more tenants who begin acting strangely.

Now, there are plenty of strange people in the world who don’t hurt anyone. But obviously there are others who do.

So, when you have a tenant who starts acting weird, particularly in that target demo, what do you do? You don’t want to violate someone’s privacy. But you also want to make sure that someone who is having mental health issues gets the help they need.

We kind of handle this on a case-by-case basis. If someone is acting really oddly, our first move is generally to contact friends or family whose contact info we have. If that doesn’t resolve the problem, we escalate to county mental health authorities.

So far, that’s been enough. Let’s hope it continues!

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