Tenant claims emotional distress

Newbie looking for advice…Any ideas and thoughts will appreciated.
Small problem with tenant:
At firs tenant complained about ants (in SFH) and allegedly spoiled food by ant for $250-$500.
After inspection ants were found.
Extermination done. No money paid to tenant for food.
Now tenant wants last month rent back for “emotional distress” caused by ants. Tenant got in to financial trouble and wants to move out after one year of tenancy. Feels like tenant wants to get money no matter what.
I know: one way to fix the problem is to give money back, forget about it and move on.
Negotiation also possible.
Is there anything else I can do ? What are my options and legal consequences?
Thank you for reading and thank you for any advise.

Get him out as fast as possible, whatever the cost you don’t want him in your house…


I agree 100%. You may not have better solution than this. Do not keep such tenants.

“Now tenant wants last month rent back for “emotional distress” caused by ants”, Do not give or compensate any money.

Ants issue is mostly tenants issue, as they put sweet items on floor, but they are using it to get out of the place. Do not ask them any money or do not go challenging them in court (waste of time),

Get them out first.

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AMEN. +1

Not sure if it happened with this tenant at the open house phase, but I usually NEVER end up giving a place to a candidate who asks about too many things or complains too much at that point. Think about it. If they are doing it even at that point when they are supposedly trying to be on your good side, what the heck is going to happen when the tenancy starts??? Gladly say thank you for coming by (but inside, say, so long chief…)

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Tenant may just want to move out. You can tell them that they can move out any time they want and you won’t ask them for any damage for breaking lease.

I once got a letter requesting hundreds of minor repairs. It turns out that the tenant needs to break the lease and move away. I agreed for them to move and they vacated in a few days and the house was in perfect condition. That was a perfect tenant all the time except for the letter

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Why do you allow tenants to fix the repairs, even minor?

I also think your tenant’s request is unreasonable.
However, from my experience, I agree that ant problem can be really distressful.
I have been hiring Clark (they claim they use environmentally friendly pesticide…) for many years.
My first landlord had hired pest control and treated exterior every 2 months. No ant.
My second landlady hadn’t hired any pest control and the place had serious ants problem.
At that time, I did lots of research to find really environmentally friendly option to remove ants from the house.
The ants in this area is Argentine ants and it is very difficult to remove them. A single Argentine ant colony will have several queens, each of them capable of laying as many as 60 eggs per day. Because of this, any baits (like Terro) didn’t work for me at all. After struggling one month or so, I hired Clark and treated the house. I asked landlady the permission to hire them but didn’t ask her to pay for the service. I was so desperate to just get out of ants problem. Of course, my landlady was very nice person and I didn’t want to disturb her.
Ants usually come in house looking for water. Thus, more often seen in bathroom than kitchen.
I don’t think ants problem is highly related to unsealed food or sweet given that we hardly leave any food unsealed and keep our house (especially kitchen) clean and neat.
Haven’t you guys dealt with ants problem before? Was I the only unlucky one?

If you can still find it, that magic Chinese chalk is worth millions. You chalk the exterior perimeter of your home and voila no more ants for a long, long time. I have used the commercial Terro product with good results too but that Chinese chalk is the bomb!!!

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Do you know a guy who knows a guy where to get that Chinese bad ass chalk?

Ants usually come in when they have see food source, not mainly water. I have seen ants two of my son’s bathroom when they spill toothpaste (or similar items) or does not clean the bath after they use.

I carefully look at food source, get rid of it. In addition, look at the entrance pores/holes of the room from where ants are coming. Block their entrance permanently. Then, applied one of the Home depot killer/cleaner (do not remember the name). It is gone in 2 minutes, never came back. If kitchen is not cleaned properly or Roomba is not running or picking all he spills, we use to see this issue. It is mainly sweet items or food spill over the kitchen floor that is attracting ants.

If you have outside home colony, they have some food source near by. Destroy the food source and can be easily treated with locally available ant killers. Extreme cases, which I have never seen last 20 years, treat with related pest control.

Ants can be driven or completely stopped by simple tools available locally. They are not big menace.

Simple concept: Cut the food source, Killing the existing ants, block the entrance.

There was nothing to repair. It’s a lawyer gimmick to break the lease for free, usually only useful in landlord friendly states. In California, there are so much tenant protection in place so your tenant has no need to try this gimmick.

Just google break the lease for free, you might stumble upon a sample letter. That sample letter can be used on brand new homes as well. It just lists hundreds of imperfections, such as a little scratch on the door, a slightly different color on your new carpet, some dirt on the corner, etc. It’s very costly to fight in court so I just simply allow him to break the lease for free

Hard to find now…easier to get firecrackers…:grin:

I have a bunch of chalk stockpiled…I am ready for the Great Ant Invasion. …In Tahoe it is not so effective against monster carpenter ants…Had to pay $125 to spray on one house…For these monster ants you only spray outside in the spring…

Wow…I knew there was some Chinese in you :slight_smile:

I too have a small stash and I am guarding it with my life!!! .

My neighbors are all hoarding bullets, I hoard chalk…lol
It now will take a ten day waiting period to buy bullets in Ca…There will be lots of smuggling of bullets from NV…
Sounds like the chalk is going the same route…I hoarded chlorodane for termite control for years…

I am on mom duty this weekend, so if she has a gambling itch to scratch in Chinatown I will have her ask around for a chalk source…G O L D M I N E ! ! ! ! (And if I remember correctly, soooooo cheap for a box of it, what 75 cents???)

Badass Chinese chalk selling for $1.99 on EBay


I am surprised eBay allows this to be sold over their airwaves since it is technically illegal and banned. I guess what they don’t know yet won’t hurt them…

Agree with those who suggest, “Get the tenant out our of your house asap”. Tenant in financial trouble is a desperate tenant who can do anything. Tell him you understand his situation and allow him to break the rent with no penalty. Win-win.

Tackle the ant issue outside your house please. Trace it outside the house and pour detergent or baking soda into their nest. If still can’t resolve, get pest control.

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100% right, follow this. If I were you, I would do the same.