Many people want to become a landlord because they view it as a somewhat hands-off position. You can hypothetically buy a property, find a tenant, and sit back while you collect rent payments and only respond to issues as needed.
But the reality is, being a landlord is an active role, and one that could demand several hours of work each week. Accordingly, you’ll need to be prepared to deal with various situations—most of them unpleasant—on a regular basis.
One of the best ways to prepare yourself for these unpleasant moments is to arm yourself with the communication and paperwork necessary to resolve them as quickly as possible. That means getting ready to issue various types of notices to your tenants.
Types of Notices to Have on Hand
It’s a good idea to prepare at least these notices, well in advance of your having to use them:
- Renewal offer. Though some leases will cover a longer or shorter period of time, most leases expire after a year or two of the tenant’s occupancy. If the lease is going to expire within the next month or two, you might want to advise the tenant you intend to keep the lease going. Offer a renewal of the lease, with any additions, by posting an official notice to the tenant.
- Non-renewal notice. On the other hand, if you will not be renewing the lease (such as if you’re clearing the property for renovations, or are seeking new tenants), you can post a notice of this as well. In this case, you may be mandated by your state to give notice a specific number of days in advance—make sure you check your local laws to ensure you’re in compliance.
- Rent increase. Most areas allow you to increase the rent, so long as you give suitable advance notice and don’t increase the rent by more than a fixed percentage within a certain period of time (usually 30 to 60 days). Be careful here, since if you raise the rent too far, your tenants will be likely to leave.
- Intent to enter. Most states make it illegal for a landlord to set foot in the tenant’s rented property without sufficient advance notice. Even if you want to walk around the backyard to inspect something, you might have to give notice. No matter what, it’s a good idea to post a notice at least 24 hours in advance, letting your tenants know that you plan to be around (and why you plan to be around).
- Intent to make repairs or renovations. If your tenant has complained about a repair that needs to be made, or if you know it’s time for the regular maintenance of a furnace or similar appliance, you’ll need to gain access to the property. In some cases, you’ll need the property to be vacated for a specific period of time while the repairs are being made. Give your tenants ample advance notice here, so they’re aware of the situation and can give you time to work.
- Late payment (or non-payment). If your tenant is chronically late with their payments, or if they owe you significant back rent but haven’t taken any meaningful action (such as setting up a payment plan), you may issue them a kind of ultimatum; pay up, or face eviction.
- Violation of terms. Similarly, you may post a notice that your tenant is in violation of the terms of your lease (for a reason other than late or non-payment). For example, if your tenant is subletting illegally to another tenant, or if they have a pet when the terms of your lease forbid it, you can give them notice to fix the violation or face eviction.
- It’s the type of notice everyone is familiar with, and the last notice a landlord wants to give. If you want to evict a tenant unconditionally (for any reasonable reason), you’ll need to give them sufficient notice. This begins the eviction process, so you’ll need to be sure of your decision before you issue it.
- Intent to dispose of personal property. After eviction has started, or if the tenant has personal property in an inappropriate place, you must give the tenant notice before you store it or dispose of it. Disposing of it before a tenant has a chance to claim it is illegal in most areas.
- Transfer of ownership. Finally, if you’re selling the property to another owner while a tenant is still living there, you’ll need to post notice of the transfer, along with the contact information of the new owner and landlord.
How to Find and Prepare Notices
If you want to make your notice as legally sound as possible, it’s in your best interest to draft a notice for each of these categories with the help of a lawyer. Otherwise, you can use online resources to locate and modify templates to customize for your specific property. Just make sure you pay attention to differences in the law between states and regions.
Maintaining a Personal Relationship
Notices are often legally required to complete certain actions (like evictions). However, in most cases, it’s a good idea to be on friendly personal terms with your tenants. Talk to them about the notices you’re posting, and help them if they have any questions or concerns. This will help ensure your notices are taken seriously and understood, and will go a long way in keeping your relationship with your tenants healthy. It might increase the chances of their compliance with requests (such as remitting payment or eliminating a lease-violating behavior), or at the very least, encourage them to remain at your property longer, thereby reducing tenant turnover.
Of course, no matter how much effort you expend to find good tenants and keep them happy, or how hard you work to resolve conflicts, being a landlord is tough—and you’ll eventually have to deal with circumstances beyond your comfort or realm of expertise. That’s why property management firms, like Green Residential, are so valuable. We take care of tenant screening, notice issuing, rent collection, and even evictions on your behalf. Contact us today and find out how our services can make your life easier.