Last week we addressed how to deal with problem tenants. (Read part 1 here...) We discussed the first two top complaints landlords make about their tenants, namely, that they are always late with the rent and that problem tenants disturb their neighbors. This week we will finish the series with the three other top complaints.
They are Trashing Your Unit
This is your investment. It is your property and you have a right to protect it.
The Prevention: This is where careful screening comes in. Call past landlords and find out how they treated the unit and if they received their security deposit back. If not, then find out why.
The Cure: Bi-annual inspections are a great way to protect your investment. These inspections are not to “spy” on the tenants but to assess any preventative maintenance or repairs that need to be done – or at least that is what the tenant should know. If they are not caring for the unit as specified in the lease, consider first sending a letter and clearly spelling out a compliance deadline (requiring another inspection). If there is no improvement, file for eviction.
They Complain All the Time
There are some tenants that have champagne dreams on a 7-Up budget. They expect every dripping faucet, every slow flushing toilet and every stain in the carpet to be repaired to their liking.
The Prevention: Document all of the units “problems” before the tenant moves in. Have the tenant sign the inspection sheet to acknowledge that they are accepting the unit in “As Is” condition. Give them a copy. All problems above and beyond these will be addressed.
The Cure: When a tenant calls with a complaint about the unit, you have three options. First, you could blow them off and ignore the repair. This creates even more dissatisfied tenants that are more likely to damage your unit. Second, you acknowledge the problem and complete the repair. Some repairs can be completed by the tenant with a reimbursement through the rent. Others should be inspected by the landlord or their agent and the appropriate professional contacted. Third, acknowledge the problem and schedule the repair. The budget for that property may not allow for the repair at that time. It is okay to tell the tenant that the repair is needed and the money is being saved to complete it. Sharing a target date can help diffuse the concern.
They Have Everyone They Know Living There
You lease out a two bedroom apartment only to find out that 10 people are regularly sleeping there. What now?
The Prevention: Make it easy on yourself. Clearly state in the lease how many adults and minors are allowed to regularly live on the premises. Even better, have the tenants provide the names and ages (especially for children) of all who will be permanently living there.
The Cure: If there is evidence that more people are consistently crashing there than the lease allows, the first step would be it issue a letter along with a compliance deadline. If the problem is not resolved, do not be afraid to evict even if they are paying the rent on time. The additional wear and tear on your property is cause enough.
Much of the difficulty of dealing with problem tenants can be greatly reduced by having a lease agreement that clearly states your expectations and the results if they are not followed. If, however, you find dealing with tenants frustrating, consider hiring a property manager. They are skilled at managing problem tenants. Let them handle the problems while you collect a check from them every month.
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