Being a landlord comes with it’s ups and downs. Tenants play an important role in dictating how enjoyable (or tough) being a landlord really can be.
Most landlords battle with difficult tenants at some point which can lead to scratching your head wondering if it’s all worth it.
Below you will find ways to help prevent sticky situations when it comes to your rental properties and tenants.
1- Tenant Screening
- Screening is the first and best defense against potential terrible tenants. Categories to include in your applicant screening process:
- Income & Employment Verification
- Landlord References & Rental History
- Credit Check
- Criminal History
If you find yourself struggling with your rental property occupants more than you would like, you might want to adjust your screening process. The initial screening process does not account for all potential changes in a tenant such as unforeseen financial circumstances, emotional state or personal situations.
2- Lease Agreement
It might sound too easy or even cliché but having a well-written rental lease agreement is critical. This will give you every opportunity to carefully spell out each and every expectation you hold your renters and yourself to before tenants take possession of your rental home.
Your rental lease agreement should make it crystal clear when it comes to eviction/lawsuit services, rent collection, lead paint compliance, financial statements and maintenance including who is responsible for what. If your tenant is responsible for property maintenance, here is where you let them know. You may even want to gently mention these before you sign and give them a copy.
Examples: burnt out light bulb out, HVAC filter change, thermostat battery, lawn care, etc.
Pro Tip, Subletting: Do not allow it, ever!
Do not let anyone take possession of your rental home that you have not personally vetted and screened. Subletting can be extremely problematic for a landlord. Reminder, guests are allowed, but for how long? Specify guest expectations to eliminate any grey area.
3- Move In (and Out) Inventory
First and foremost, you need to perform a detailed move in inspection. Make sure everything is as you would like it if you were moving in, this includes even the small items such as a refrigerator light bulb. If you provide your tenant with a move-in inspection sheet this gives them every opportunity to note what was damaged when they move in so they cannot be billed after move out.
It is important to go over this sheet, preferably with them so you and and your tenant can start off on the same page. Photos are always a bonus, for you and for them!
4- Routine Check In’s
Check in to inspect for any potential maintenance concerns, finding out something half way through their lease may save you big bucks when they move out.
Don’t be afraid to take pictures (with a timestamp), after all it is your rental property. Keeping documentation can prevent future misunderstandings.
You may even discover violations of the lease agreements including unauthorized occupants. Be sure to address these findings immediately.
Make it clear from the very first interaction that everyone is held to the same standards and guidelines. Your actions reflect how you expect to be treated and all of your conversations moving forward. This will help eliminate future tenant pleadings or negotiations. Stand firmly behind your rules and expectations to deal with fewer hassles.
As a landlord, evaluate your prospective residents carefully and equally. Follow these 5 ways to help prevent sticky situations when it comes to your rental properties and tenants.
Take the time now to set yourself up for a smooth and successful rental agreement.
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