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Landlord Questions Tenant's Claim That He Sleepwalks

DEAR ABBY: I am a man who owns a large four-bedroom home, and I have two tenants. One pays the rent on time, helps with cleaning and yard work, and is an all-around great roommate. The other has been here for four months, has never paid his rent on time and always disappears when we must clear off the driveway or do yard work.

The major problem I have with this guy is he sleepwalks -- at least he claims he does. He opens doors at night. Some mornings I have found the front door or garage door wide open.

Additionally, he raids the refrigerator late at night. He claims he doesn't realize he's doing it. It's really annoying to find food I prepared the night before to take to work has been eaten.

I have spoken to him about it on numerous occasions, and he claims that he can't control his sleepwalking. I feel he should have told me about his issues prior to signing the lease. None of the references he gave mentioned his sleepwalking.

Is it considered a disability? Would I be discriminating against a disability if I chose to not renew his lease because of his sleepwalking? -- LANDLORD IN WISCONSIN

DEAR LANDLORD: Because doors are being left open, it might be in your interest to install inexpensive security cameras. Sleepwalking (and sleep eating) can be symptoms of a sleep disorder, or possibly be caused by certain sleep medications. If your tenant is unaware of this, he should be informed and advised to be evaluated at a sleep disorder clinic.

Because he doesn't pay rent on time or do other things expected of him, you may not be obligated to renew his lease. My advice is to talk to a lawyer about how -- and whether -- you can get rid of this tenant.

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