Landlords of rental property have to resolve landlord tenant disputes as part of the job of owning rental property. Dealing with renters is usually the toughest part of the job, but with some upfront planning and preparation, landlord tenant disputes will be minimal and when and if they do arise, resolving them will be easier.
Tenant Screening, Rental Applications, and Lease Agreements
It’s important to screen tenants carefully. When a landlord takes the time to qualify tenants on the basis of the prospective renter’s income, rental history, and thorough background checks, the likelihood of selecting a renter that will be a problem goes down. Using good rental applications that treat all prospective renters fairly is key.
Equally as important is to have rock solid property lease agreements. Landlords need to protect their investments by writing a legally binding rental agreement that lays out what will happen if a tenant breaks one of the rules of the rental contract.
Follow Up on Rental Property
Landlords who check often on the renter and the property will have a better idea of how the tenant is treating the rental property. Dropping in on renters unexpectedly is a good habit for landlords. By arriving at the apartment or house without notice, the landlord can get a good idea of how the renter cares for the unit. It is within the landlord’s rights to maintain contact and to view his property. Outlining this condition in the rental agreement is important.
By asking tenants to mention repairs or changes that are needed, such as a plumbing leak, while it is still small the landlord has the opportunity to properly maintain the rental property. The landlord should stay on top of any problems, such as lawn maintenance if that is the tenant’s responsibility. If the lawn is not being mowed as agreed, for example, it is within the landlord’s rights to discuss the agreement with the renter. Give specific deadlines and consequences for making the changes.
Communicating with Tenants
If a problem arises, the landlord needs to communicate with the tenant verbally and in written, if appropriate. On the first offense, the landlord can give a verbal warning, depending on the situation. Landlords should first give a verbal warning to a tenant to address an issue. If this does not resolve the problem or if the issue is major, the landlord should immediately put the warning in writing. The landlord should send a written letter to the tenant advising the tenant of the problem, a date to resolve landlord tenant disputes, and cite the numbered line item in the rental agreement to back it up.
Landlords should always work with tenants and show good faith. If a renter is having personal trouble such as being laid off from work and cannot pay the rent, giving the renter a defined time to come up with the money can show compassion. However, it is important to be firm to protect your investment. The landlord is not the tenant’s friend; he is the landlord.
Dealing with Tenants – The Bottom Line
Landlords have the responsibility to uphold the rental lease agreement to protect their rental property. Dealing fairly with renters goes a long way in keeping the lines of communication open and having a positive relationship with tenants. Landlord follow up is mandatory to ensure the tenant is caring for the apartment or house as outlined in the lease.