Preventing Landlord-Tenant Disputes—Before They Happen

By E-Renter Tenant Screening
Posted on October 6, 2010 under Landlord Paperwork and Forms, Landlord Tips | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

tenantscreeningblog, tenant screening, tenant background checkCommon gripes between landlords and tenants can often be prevented through clear communication. And by “clear,” we mean “absolutely, crystal clear.” Murky, misunderstood or meaningless agreements almost never work in the rental property business.

Four simple steps to clear communication:

  1. Say exactly what you mean.
  2. Put it in writing.
  3. Make sure the tenant understands.
  4. Get the tenant’s buy-in.

Say exactly what you mean: If you require pet deposits for the privilege of housing a pet in your rental property, specify if they are refundable with no damages or non-refundable and not intended to cover damages. The vague term “pet deposit” could be interpreted to mean “refundable if my pet does no damage.” The day a pet-owning tenant moves out and expects that deposit back is not the time to explain that you really meant it’s non-refundable, damage or no damage.

Put it in writing: We’re not lawyers, and of course you should always consult with yours before proceeding along the path to any agreement, but do remember that when it comes to landlords and tenants, the “he said, she said” argument rarely wins over a signed, dated agreement. When it comes to the landlord business, the more signatures, lists, photos and pieces of paper you have, the better.

Make sure the tenant understands: Never assume a tenant knows what you’re talking about. This doesn’t mean you should patronize or talk down to a tenant—or treat them like they’re in kindergarten. It does mean to take the time to explain every detail of the lease agreement, tenant rules, pet policy, causes for eviction, quiet hours and even appliance operation. Whatever it takes to establish a respectful, mutually agreeable relationship in the beginning will pay off through the time of the lease. It takes time and effort to look a tenant in the eye, ask if they understand, explain if they don’t, and obtain a signature saying they do. But it can save a lot of hassle down the road.

Get the tenant’s buy-in: Don’t dictate to your tenants. Help them understand that every rule, every procedure, and every effort on your part is to make their rental home a place they and their neighbors want to live. Ask for their cooperation in making it so.

Sounds simple, right? As with anything that’s worth doing, establishing clear communication with tenants may take time and practice. But it can’t hurt to try and see if it makes the landlord/tenant relationship a little smoother and more pleasant!

Add A Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.