5 Common Problems For Landlords
When you decided to rent your first property, you probably imagined a happy little family moving in, lovingly taking care of the rental for you, always paying on time, and never giving you any reason to worry. It was such a nice dream. Of course, all it takes is your first problem tenant to erase those hopeful dreams.
Certain problems are common to all landlords, so don’t think you’re alone in this. There’s no way to prevent issues from popping up, but you can minimize them with the right policies and procedures.
Not every late payment leads to an eviction, but all late payments are a hassle. Sometimes a tenant goes on vacation and forgets. Sometimes they’re a habitual offender, always paying a few days late. Late payments hurt your bottom line and make it difficult to take care of your expenses as a landlord.
Make sure you have a payment policy in place and that it’s very clearly explained in the lease agreement. Screen tenants thoroughly to weed out the worst offenders (people who stop paying completely). Enforce your payment policy consistently. Offer multiple ways to accept payments like electronic payments or automatic payments. Make it as easy for your tenants to pay as possible, and you’ll have fewer late payments.
Understanding the Law
As a landlord, you have a lot of responsibilities under the law. You need to know what you’re allowed to do like evicting a tenant who commits a crime. You have to know what you can’t do like showing up unannounced to the property. And you absolutely must know what you need to do like making a property safe and taking care of maintenance.
You’re not just responsible for local laws in the city or county, you need to be aware of state and federal laws, too. Hire an attorney, read the statutes, and make sure you’re clear on exactly what you can, can’t, and have to do as a landlord. But before you rent the first property, you should have a basic understanding of your legal responsibilities.
The ideal tenant for most landlords is someone who always pays on time, doesn’t cause problems, and stays in the property for multiple lease renewals. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen. Some tenants break the lease while others vanish in the middle of the night. Some you have to evict. The tenants you’d like to keep leave when their lease is up.
If your rental property feels a bit like a revolving door, you’ve got turnover problems. What keeps good tenants around? Setting your rent at the right amount, good communication with your tenants, and maintaining the property are a good place to start.
Tenants Who Refuse to Communicate
Landlords get a bad reputation for not communicating with their tenants, but sometimes, it’s the tenants who are the problem. You leave voicemails and never hear back. You send emails with no response, or worse, they bounce back. As a landlord, there are things you need to talk to your tenants about: neighbor complaints, necessary maintenance, late payments, etc. If they’re not easy to reach, you can’t do your job.
The best way around this is to require multiple ways to contact your tenant on their initial application. Ask for landline and cellphone numbers, as well as an email address and a work number. Don’t forget to request two emergency contact numbers, too. You can let them tell you which contact method they prefer, but this way you’ll have backup options if they don’t respond.
The only thing as stressful and costly as evicting a tenant is dealing with potential damage they leave behind. You expect normal wear and tear but some problems go far beyond that. Holes in the wall, broken fixtures, leaks that were never reported - it all adds up to major headaches and expenses for you.
Make sure your lease is clear about the tenant responsibilities are to the property. Screen your tenants thoroughly to prevent renting to someone who’s done this before. Require a yearly inspection as part of lease renewal. You can’t prevent every bad tenant, but you can minimize the potential for damage.
There’s no way to guarantee that none of these problems will happen to you as a landlord. But you do have options for making sure it’s rare and handling small issues before they become big problems. If you’re already overwhelmed or if you know you need help, work with a property management team with years of experiencing handling problem tenants and preventing problems before they start.
ERA American Real Estate can help you manage your rentals, find tenants, and take care of issues when they happen.