Even if you try to take extra care to screen potential tenants before locking them into a lease, you never really know who you’re inviting into your property, and problems are bound to arise from time to time.
As a housing manager, you won’t always have a smooth time managing your tenants–here’s how to navigate four common tenant-landlord issues as they arise (and how to prevent them from becoming issues in the first place).
Tenant Issue #1: Your tenants are destroying your house.
Solution: If your tenants are literally destroying your house (scratching up the walls, clogging up sinks and bathtubs, recklessly closing blinds so they fall out, etc.) you’ll surely need to intervene. There’s no question about it–you own the property in which your tenants live, therefore those tenants need to respect the space they’re paying to use.
To prevent a bunch of stress over property maltreatment, have your new tenants give a security deposit before they move in. A security deposit acts as protection which covers “removal of abandoned personal property and any damages that are not normal wear and tear” and acts as a safety net in case something in your property needs significant repairs.
Landlord contents insurance is also a good idea if you’re renting your place out fully or partially furnished, as it ensures that your furniture is covered if lost or damaged in any way.
Tenant Issue #2: Your tenants are disobeying your rules.
Solution: Take pet ownership, for example. Many tenants establish a no-pets rule in order to minimize the chance of damages occurring to their property, among other reasons, and you may have explained this to your tenants from the start. However, some tenants might try tosneak a pet into the property and take extra care to hide the fact that they’ve got an animal.
It’s pretty easy to tell if your tenants are disobeying the no-pets rule–is there a litter box in the property? Do you think you saw a few chew toys when you came over to collect the rent? If so, confront your tenants and let them know they need to either house their animal elsewhere, or work out some type of agreement with you about conditions that must be met in order for the pet to stay.
Many landlords are flexible enough that if their tenants demonstrate they can keep their pets under control, the rule can bend/adjust for them–however, a tenant who tries to hide anything from their landlord may be one to watch out for.
Tenant Issue #3: Tenants are getting into shady activity.
Solution: Does it seem like your tenants are low-key running a weed distribution site out of your home, or engaging in some other type of illegal activity involving your property? There are numerous telltale signs that let you know your tenants might be into some questionable practices or weird business that could warrant an investigation.
If you suddenly see a lot of cars parked on the street that aren’t normally there outside your property, or if you observe a lot of people entering and leaving your property on a frequent basis for brief amounts of time, you may be right to wonder if your tenants are up to anything illegal (for example, drug dealing).
Be on the lookout for unusual objects or paraphernalia lying around in your interactions with tenants, and if suspicious activity continues, confront your tenants about it. The last thing you want is for sketchy activity to escalate so much that city police intervene and get you in trouble before you had the chance to address the situation.
Tenant Issue #4: Tenants are inconsistent with paying their rent.
Solution: Credit checks can be a good idea at times when assessing the financial stability of a potential tenant, but if you’ve got a current tenant who’s been having trouble paying the rent on time, communicate with them about what’s going on.
It’s always a good idea to understand that your tenants are human and may be going through a hard time (such as unexpected loss of employment or a family emergency), so have a conversation with them to find out what is keeping them from paying rent on time.
Many landlords are a lot more understanding than others about rent issues, and many are successful in working out a rent agreement that works with their tenants (such as adjusting the payment schedule) so before writing your tenants off as chronically unreliable, try to work with them to negotiate a system for paying rent including how much and when it can/should be paid.
While managing tenants can be challenging, housing managers should remember that there’s usually a reason for a tenant’s irresponsibility–stand your ground, but also be real with your tenants and get to know them well enough to be able to comfortably communicate about housing policies and protocols.