When you think of the greatest rivalries of your time, what comes to mind? There’s Tom vs. Jerry, Yankees vs. Red Sox, Batman vs. Joker, Peps vs. Coke…and the list could go on. But for some, they would also include the rivalry of tenant vs. landlord.
5 Major Sources of Friction You Should Avoid
For centuries, tenants and landlords have often shared a precarious relationship with one another. Depending on which side of the relationship people are on, they either see landlords as abusive and dictatorial or tenants as sleazy and conniving. And though these are both extreme caricatures, there can be some truth to both. Landlords often try to flex their muscles, while tenants tend to look for opportunities to bend the rules. When both happen, friction and chaos ensue.
As a landlord, you should make it a point to foster a healthy relationship with your tenants by squashing the sources of friction that commonly lead to conflicts and fights. In particular, you’d do well to zero in on the following issues:
Timely Rent Payment
“The most common dispute between landlords and tenants is late rent payments,” industry insider Kasia Manolas acknowledges. “Tenants who do not pay rent cause a number of problems. They weaken your financial outtake. They cause headaches and cause legal trouble. While sometimes it is a harmless case of forgetfulness, other times it can be a case of malicious intent. Regardless, it is irresponsible and a breach of contract.”
It’s best for everyone if you and your tenants can avoid late rent payments. Not only do they cause you frustration, but they also lead you to pester and track down your tenants, which causes them some element of annoyance as well.
You can’t always control when a tenant pays you, but there are steps you can take to encourage fewer late payments. One strategy is to incentivize tenants by offering discounts for early payments and additional fees for late payments. This may give tenants a reason to move your bill to the top of their stack.
Damage to Property
Property is another common point of contention. Whether purposefully or through normal wear and tear, damage is a part of life as a landlord, and you need a system for how you handle it.
First off, you should collect a security deposit on the front end of a lease agreement. It may not be sufficient enough to fix a major problem, but it at least gives you a chance to recoup some damages if there are problems when the tenant moves out.
Secondly, you should make it clear that you want tenants to tell you about damage, as opposed to hiding it. The first time a tenant comes to you with a problem, see if you can handle it without requiring a dime out of their pocket. This will establish some trust and encourage them to be equally as transparent down the road.
When you rent your property to one individual or family, you expect that they’ll be the only ones staying in the property. Sure, they may have a friend crash for a night, but they aren’t permitted to have long-term guests. But in the age of Airbnb, some tenants have been known to break these rules.
One common scam occurs when a tenant rents a property and then illegally lists it on Airbnb for a higher rate – using it as their own “investment” property.
“Another type of illegal scam is where an approved tenant of a larger property, separates it into smaller spaces with improperly walled off sections, and then rents those spaces out to a larger number of occupants than what the property is allowed or zoned to hold,” SubletAlert.com explains. “These types of overcrowding scams can have a detrimental effect on the property, void your property insurance and have a negative impact on the neighborhood.”
In addition to clearly discussing subletting restrictions in the lease agreement, have a frank conversation with your tenants so that they’re clear on the rules.
When a tenant rents a property, they have the right to quiet enjoyment. This legally entitles tenants to certain rights that make their living conditions both peaceful and private. It also includes freedom from unreasonable disturbances and exclusive possession of the property.
As would be expected, tenants become frustrated when their right to quiet enjoyment is interrupted. Most commonly, this happens in the form of noisy or unruly neighbors.
While it’s not always easy or comfortable, you have to look out for the best interests of your tenants and confront neighbors who may be bothering them. If these violations of quiet enjoyment aren’t solved, your tenant could be legally entitled to break the lease.
Holdover After Lease Term
In most cases, a tenant moves out after the lease agreement ends and the landlord finds another tenant. However, there are situations where tenants will refuse to move out or pull a quick one on a landlord and trick them into continuing a month-to-month tenancy.
“If the tenant doesn’t leave voluntarily the act of changing the locks can turn the landlord into a defendant in a lawsuit for self-help eviction, which calls for treble damages by statute against the landlord,” attorney Andrew Lieb writes.
If a tenant doesn’t leave, you shouldn’t accept any additional payment. Doing so could force you into a tough spot. Instead, quickly pursue eviction.
Green Residential Professional Property Management
In order to maintain a healthy relationship between tenant and landlord, it’s important for there to be mutual respect for the rules that are in place. Each party has a responsibility to uphold, and it’s in the best interest of everyone involved for the rules to be fair and specific.
Here at Green Residential, we make it our priority to help Houston-area landlords and real estate investors protect their properties by maintaining healthy and positive relationships with their tenants. If you’re a landlord or investor looking for professional property management services, we’d be happy to help. Contact us today to find out more!