Being a good landlord is like being a good parent. You need to be agreeable and kind, but if you don’t set boundaries, your tenants will take advantage of you.
While you can’t control every little thing your tenants do, you can control some things. To protect your investment, never allow tenants to do the following things:
Perform their own repairs, no matter how small
You might have a tenant who loves to fix things like appliances, leaky roofs, and plumbing. It sounds like a good deal on the surface, but it’s always a bad idea to allow tenants to fix anything no matter how small.
When you allow a tenant to perform their own repairs, you’re in a tough position for two reasons. First, it’s against the law for landlords to ask tenants to make their own repairs. Landlords are fully responsible for repairs and maintenance. Tenant repairs can come back to bite you later.
Say you give notice to a tenant who fixed a leaky roof last year. They might get upset and claim you instructed them to perform that repair. If you can’t prove the tenant made the repair without your consent, you’ll have a hard time proving your innocence.
The second problem is that some repairs require a licensed, bonded contractor to do the work in order to cover any additional damage. If a tenant tries to repair a broken pipe and makes the situation worse, you’ll have to call an emergency plumber and it will cost you more money.
Tenants who love to fix things in their rental unit won’t always tell you before making repairs. You may not even find out repairs were made until they vacate the property. To protect yourself, explicitly state in the lease that tenants are required to notify you of necessary repairs so you can go through the proper channels.
Sublet a room without your approval of the tenant
Most Texas landlords avoid allowing sublets, but sometimes they can work out. The only safe way to allow sublets is by screening your tenants’ potential tenants.
If you’re going to allow tenants to sublet their space, make sure you set the rules. For example, require that all potential sublessees pass your standard background and credit checks. Don’t allow your main tenant to rent a room to anyone you wouldn’t rent your property to directly.
Make sure your tenant knows they are still 100% responsible for paying the rent on time and they will be held liable for damages caused by their tenant(s).
Sublet a non-bedroom space
If you’re going to allow tenants to sublet, describe what specific areas of the property the tenant is allowed to sublet. For instance, your lease might state that tenants can sublet a bedroom, but other rooms like garages, closets, and divided living rooms are not a valid sublet.
Run a home-based business from the property
Many homeowners’ associations and city ordinances prohibit running a home-based business from a residential property. Running a business where products are manufactured from inside the home or where clients and customers frequently come in and out of the house can cause parking problems and other disturbances for neighbors.
It’s a wise move to include a clause in the lease that prohibits running a home-based business from your property. However, you can always make an exception for a tenant with a type of business that won’t cause a disturbance.
When you know a tenant has been harassing neighbors, don’t let them get away with it. You don’t want to be the landlord who doesn’t do anything about a problem tenant.
If you have an unruly tenant, talk to them about their behavior first. Find out if there’s a reason they’re disrupting the peace. Maybe the other neighbors caused the first disturbance or are doing something to inconvenience your tenant. Try to get to the bottom of it before taking any action.
As a last case scenario, causing a disturbance can be a valid reason to evict a tenant. However, you should talk to a lawyer before serving an eviction notice to make sure it’s done correctly.
Bully you into dropping late fees
Tenants hate late fees and they’re not afraid to demand that you drop them. No matter how many times you point out that a tenant signed the lease agreeing to late fees, they’re still going to beg and plead with you to drop the fees.
Never let a tenant bully you into dropping late fees. Holding them to account for their agreement doesn’t make you a bad landlord. You can do it politely. You can even give your tenants the opportunity to pay the late fees in installments over a couple of months.
The point isn’t to collect the money. Nobody gets rich from late fees. The point is to make sure your tenants don’t walk all over you. If you let them get away without paying late fees now, soon they’ll expect you to be okay with late rent on a regular basis.
Escape an eviction without being reported to the credit bureaus
Any tenant you evict needs to be reported to the credit bureaus. They may not ever try to rent from you again, but reporting them will help future landlords make informed decisions.
The only problem is, you need a merchant account with a certain level of monthly transactions to report rent payments to the credit bureaus. However, there are other ways for landlords with fewer tenants to report monthly rental payments.
If you can, do the right thing for other landlords and don’t let anyone slide.
Get away with major property damage
When a tenant leaves serious damage behind, don’t let them get away with it. They’re probably going to do more damage to their next rental unit.
File a lawsuit against your former tenant to recover the cost of repairs. Filing a lawsuit takes time and effort, but it’s worth it in the end. You shouldn’t have to spend your own money to fix something your tenant broke.
Don’t like dealing with legal matters? We can help!
If you dread the idea of filing a lawsuit to make things right, you need a property management company. That’s where we come in.
At Green Residential, we have decades of experience managing properties for investors and we specialize in handling the legal aspects of being a landlord. We’ll handle your evictions from start to finish and pursue damage claims in court.
We’ll also handle tenant screening, credit checks, market vacancies, and manage all repairs and maintenance for a flat monthly fee. Contact us today for a free evaluation and find out how we can make your life easier.