Filling vacant properties with tenants will help you on your way to becoming a good property manager. However, being a property manager often comes with a host of tenant-related problems. 90% of all property management complaints come from tenants, according to Fourandhalf. Then, there are tenants that miss their payments, damage the property, and violate the rules. You can’t just turf these tenants out, so here’s how to handle them the right way.
Bloomberg reports that more than 8 million renters across the U.S. are behind on their rent. This is a difficult situation as lots of people are finding it hard to pay their bills now due to the cost-of-living crisis. But you must remember that you work for the owner of the property and that they need their cash to survive. As soon as a rental payment has been missed, contact the tenant and discuss it with them. Give them by end of business day or within 24 hours to provide a cashier’s check or money order. If not received post a notice to pay or quit. From there, a late payment fee can be issued – this often pushes tenants to pay. However, if payment still isn’t received, by the end of the pay or quit notice time frame, legal action can be taken. It’s best to speak to an eviction lawyer to ensure you follow the correct process.
Unhappy tenants can very quickly become problem tenants. The most common complaint tenants have about the properties they rent are maintenance issues. If you don’t stay on top of maintenance, you may find that the tenants of the properties you oversee pay less rent, make a fuss, or start carrying out illicit work on the property. Keep tenants happy by staying on top of maintenance, such as regularly checking locks, smoke alarms, and carbon monoxide detectors. In the spring and summer, outdoor maintenance becomes a lot more crucial. Grass is ideal for rental properties, but regular mowing is essential to keep the garden in a livable condition. It’s nice for tenants to have something pretty to look at, so plants and flowers in a rental property should be included. Evergreen bushes, ornamental trees, and shrubs are low maintenance. A nice clean patio area also works well for rental properties. If you have a property that has a nicely landscaped yard it is best to include a gardener to keep it maintained. If the yard is low maintenance or doesn’t have any plants, then the tenant can maintain it at their expense. Check your location because in some states with water rationing lawn is forbidden. If you have lawn, you might be able to get paid by the water company to remove it and replace with drought tolerant plants or rock gardens.
It’s normal for wear and tear to occur in rental properties. Damage, however, is when a tenant abuses or neglects the property. One study found that broken or damaged kitchen appliances were reported in 13% of cases, while broken or damaged bathroom items were found 10% of the time. Other common property damage includes holes in the walls, stains on the floors, and burn marks. When damage to a property is identified, you must discuss it with the tenant. Make sure you document the damage and take photographs as proof. If the damage is substantial get a couple of estimates but if not major hire a reasonably priced vendor to make the repair. Don’t wait for the tenant to move before damage is rectified. Charge the tenant as soon as the repair is done. (Never let the tenant to the work themselves) If the tenant has vacated the property use the tenant’s security deposit to cover the damage.
One in seven tenants break their tenancy agreements. Common rule breaks include smoking in the property, keeping pets, and painting without permission. It is imperative before the tenant even moves in to review the lease and expectations for having a good relationship and successful tenancy. If it is discovered that they are in violation of the lease reach out to the tenant and inform them that they need to correct the problem, or their lease is in jeopardy. If the tenant ultimately breaks the lease and moves, they need to be aware that they are responsible for all costs associated with getting a new tenant. If they don’t correct the issue you may need to take legal action.
Problem tenants are a nightmare for any property manager to deal with. Unfortunately, you’re sure to encounter tenants like this, but there are things you can do to effectively deal with them. First set expectations at the outset for a successful relationship. Then enforce the rental agreement and don’t make exceptions. Have open communication and keep things professional. Ultimately, if you do a great job screening and approving well qualified applicants these problems won’t arise.
Guest Contributor – Jennifer Dawson can be reached at: [email protected]