Dealing with problem tenants involves many aspects of property management and numerous factors to consider. With the right knowledge and skills, you can manage problem tenants to your advantage. Knowing how to deal with problem tenants is one of the most important skills when it comes to managing a property. Even yours for that matter.
Whilst the goal may be to rent to dream tenants, there will always be some tenants whom you will never seem to satisfy. You may be able to filter out many problem tenants by screening their rental applications, but there are no guarantees. This can tell you a lot about a potential tenant, but without sufficient background research, it can also lead to misunderstandings. However, despite the best tenant screening exercise, your dream tenant could become a real nightmare!
Problem tenants typically fall into four or five broad categories, when it comes to apartments and single-family homes. Understanding them is the first step to finding solutions and dealing with them.
1. Dealing with problem tenants: Late rent payments or defaults
Late or partial rent payment is probably the most common issue landlords or property managers face. Occasionally a tenant may run late on payment for genuine reasons. It could be something as simple as a mismatch between payday and due date. Or a flurry of unexpected bills landing up simultaneously. In such instances, timely communication between the parties usually resolves the issue amicably.
However, if your tenant’s rent payments are consistently late, or you can notice a pattern of delays, you may need to act. One option is to send them a written “pay or quit” notice. Make it clear that unless rent is paid within the agreed period, they must vacate the property. The lease agreement should make it clear that late payments aren’t tolerated. And may lead to the loss of the security deposit. Some lease agreements come with penalties for late rent payments, ranging from 5~10% of the monthly rental, while others state a flat fee. However, keep in mind that the Covid pandemic has led to changes in laws surrounding late fees and the eviction process in Florida. It is advisable to check with a legal advisor, so as not to err on the wrong side of the Florida housing laws.
2. Dealing with problem tenants: Violating the terms of the lease
By signing the lease on a property, a tenant undertakes to abide by the rules of the house, or risk being evicted from the property. Whilst the lease agreement of an apartment or a single-family home contains numerous terms and conditions, the pet policy is often, the most commonly broken rule.
If you observe a no-pet policy, then in the spirit of fairness to all tenants, you must apply it firmly. Even if tenants want to make you feel guilty about not allowing a beloved pet into the property, you need to remind them of the terms they accepted, when signing the lease agreement. If on the other hand, you allow pets on the property, it is always a good idea to conduct periodic inspections to ensure that they’re not causing damage.
Other instances of tenants violating the rules involve the sale of drugs, narcotics, and other contraband items. Whether it is the use of drugs or the sale of drugs, these activities are prohibited in residential properties, under Florida law. Along with drug abuse, alcohol abuse, physical violence, and engaging in legally restricted activities in Florida, are all considered violations. If, as a landlord, you feel that the tenant is breaking the law or you fear for your or other tenants’ safety, call the authorities. And seek good legal advice on dealing with an eviction, if the tenant is arrested.
3. Dealing with problem tenants: Damaging the rental property
Property damage is another common problem with tenants, extending to property abuse. Unapproved DIY-type repairs, room additions, and home improvements also fall under this category. Even though a tenant’s security deposit is a means of discouraging such activities, you may still end up having to charge them for repairs, illegal construction, and modifications. However, before deducting from a tenant’s security deposit, or charging for repairs, first verify that the damage is intentional, and more than just regular wear and tear.
For starters, landlords and property managers should conduct a thorough property inspection of the rental unit and create a detailed record of the property. Pictures and videos will enable a property manager to archive ‘before’ pictures that are admissible for legal matters. Upon move-out, the landlord should also take photos for comparison purposes. Property inspections and the ensuing reports precaution, provide solid evidence for supporting claims of any kind of visible property damage. They also act as deterrents to renters who may plan any unauthorized changes to the property in the future. By regularly inspecting your rental unit you will be able to notice unauthorized updates or other property abuse in time. And take the necessary action.
4. Unapproved home improvements
Unapproved DIY home improvements are another source of tenant problems. They come in various forms, the most common being, repainting the property. Or installing shelving where it is not appropriate or where it constitutes a safety hazard. Some tenants may install new fixtures, and damage the floors, walls, and even the ceiling, in the process. Of course, if tenants wish to personalize their living space to a minor degree, it should not present a problem. But the lease agreement should clearly state that the tenant is responsible for repainting or repairing a rental property when their lease is up. And restoring it to its original condition, to avoid losing the security deposit, intended just for such purposes.
5. Tenants sub-letting illegally (and without the owner’s knowledge)
Sub-letting can be a lease-breaking activity if the lease agreement does not allow it. Even if sub-letting is legal in your property’s area, it brings with it, the risk of strangers residing in your property for short (or long) periods. Since sub-letters are not subject to detailed tenant screening (or any screening) at all, there is no telling who these people are. Or the risks you entail by having them on your property. The same holds for unapproved roommates, or long-term stayers. You can add an important clause to your lease that prevents unauthorized subletting or unapproved long-term guests.
Sometimes, despite your best efforts to resolve situations with problem tenants, eviction is the only option. Be sure to go about the process with due care and abundant caution. Document everything and maintain a record of the process. Seek legal aid to ensure the eviction is compliant with Florida state laws. Without a legally compliant eviction, you may delay the process for months, and the renter may continue living on the property rent-free. Worse still, you could end up owing your renter money.
How we can help?
When you use Real Property Management to manage your rental homes, our experienced professionals are on your side. We have the skills and more so, the experience to spot problem tenants. Not only will we conduct thorough tenant screenings, but will also carefully check the existing lease agreement against the applicable laws in South Florida. We will consult on matters of importance and include missing terms in the lease agreement. Furthermore, we will rent out the property and also take full responsibility for enforcing the terms of the lease. And if an eviction becomes absolutely necessary, we will handle it professionally to ensure we can rent the unit out again. In the shortest possible time.
Instead of trying to manage this by yourself, just imagine how much easier it would be to let Real Property Management Premier manage it for you. Look no further than Real Property Management Premier.
Contact us online or call 954-800-4433 and ask our property managers about our services in detail.
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