Buying and renting out a property is a great way to invest and make money. But being a landlord comes with difficulties. Difficult or delinquent tenants are always a possibility. Here’s a list of how landlords can prepare for problems and solve common tenant issues.
What To Do Before You Get Started
- Know the laws, expectations, and rights of landlords. Being knowledgeable about rules and regulations is extremely helpful.
- Take out a property insurance policy that is designed specifically for landlords. The right kind of insurance is vital.
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General Advice To Keep In Mind
- Keep a written log of all conversations, interactions, and events. A paper trail backs up your side of the story.
- Always approach tenants amicably at first. People respond better to requests when they don’t feel threatened.
- Remember: You are in charge. Your tenant has rights, but the tenant must comply with your rules!
Preventing Difficulties In the First Place
1. Weed out bad tenants from the start! Screening is an absolute must. The screening process should include:
- Employment verification
- Income verification
- Rental histories, including references
- Credit Checks
2. Maximize referrals.
It’s always advantageous to meet tenants through referrals. Anonymous applicants may be good tenants. But renting to someone who has been personally vouched for is a better option.
- Create an incentive system that rewards current tenants for referrals who sign a lease. Common rewards for referrals are cash, gift cards, or rent credit.
- Reach out to your personal and professional network.
3. Take “Before” Pictures
Document the condition of the apartment before the tenant moves in.
- Photos prevent tenants from denying the damage they cause.
- They also prevent tenants from making false claims about the condition of the unit.
4. Create a Sense of Community
A personal connection between landlords and tenants creates a better relationship.
- Host a holiday party.
- Organize an event for the building, like a bar-b-q or stoop sale.
5. State Expectations and Building Rules in Your Lease
A lease is a contract the tenant agrees to follow. Let the tenant know from the very beginning what is prohibited. It’s always important to include:
- Information about rent due date as well as late fees
- Policy on pets
- Code of conduct, including noise and disruption rules
- Policy on smoking
How To Fix Common Issues with Tenants
1. Late or No Rent Payments:
Financial difficulties can happen to anyone. Most landlords evaluate prospective tenants’ finances. But anyone can experience a cash flow issue or become unemployed. Here’s what you can do to manage a delinquent tenant:
- Create an installment plan. Negotiate with your tenant so that their plan is realistic
- Apply their security deposit to owed rent
- Divide late fees over the remainder of the lease.
- Move the tenant to a cheaper unit
- Set the tenant up with a roommate to help lower their rent
2. Disruptions In the Building:
Your lease’s code of conduct outlines rules the tenant must follow. These rules allow landlords to hold tenants accountable for violations. When tenants violate the rules:
- Send a written warning. Let the tenant know that additional violations can result in eviction.
- Contact the police if the tenant is blasting music, using illegal substances, or threatening you or your tenants.
- Enforce a “three strikes you’re out” policy.
3. Tenants Damage Their Unit
Because you’ve taken “before” pictures, you have a strong case for restitution.
- Notify your tenant and ask them to repair damages.
- Withhold the cost of repairs from their security deposit.
- Take your tenant to small claims court.
4. Constant Complaints:
Some tenants will continually nag their landlord. Tenants may have valid service requests. Other tenants nitpick and cause stress. The best approach to high-maintenance tenants is:
- Treat them kindly. A little patience and understanding go a long way.
- Meet their requests as best you can.
- Listen to what they have to say. Acting annoyed makes the situation worse. Tenants calm down if you don’t get angry with them.
- If their complaints turn into harassment, talk your tenant about the issue. A straightforward conversation goes a long way.
Eviction: Your Last Resort
Eviction is a very costly process. Landlords should exhaust all possible options before beginning the eviction process! This is the typical eviction process:
- First, gain an understanding of eviction laws
- Have a valid, legal reason for the eviction
- Deliver a formal eviction notice
- File your eviction with the appropriate court
- Attend the court hearing
- Evict the tenant
- Collect any past-due rent
What Not To Do
Certain actions cause a lot of trouble for landlords. When you violate tenant’s rights, they can take you to court. There are severe legal repercussions for landlords in some situations. Avoid taking the following actions when dealing with a problematic tenant:
- Shut off utilities
- Remove the tenant’s belongings
- Change the locks