3 Landlord Surprises

Posted by Teresa on October 8, 2010 under Landlord Tenant Lawsuits, Landlord Tips | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

tenant screening, background screeningSurprise! You Must Return the Tenant’s Security Deposit: When a tenant moves out and leaves significant damage to the rental unit, why wouldn’t you be able to just keep the entire security deposit to clean up and make repairs? Isn’t that the purpose of a security deposit? Yes, as long as the landlord or property management company follows the letter of the law. When they do not, the tenant can keep every penny of the deposit and walk away, leaving the property owner or manager to deal with stained carpet, water damage, wall gouges and broken cabinet doors.

While tenant screening helps reduce liabilities like renting to tenants who trash properties, anything can happen. Remember, if the law in your state requires landlords and property management companies to return security deposits or provide an itemized list of damages within 15 or 30 days (most do) and you fail to provide it, the tenant may seek recourse, including return of the security deposit, no matter how much damage he or she has left behind.

Surprise! Your Tenant is the Proud Owner of a Pit Bull Puppy: Whether your rental property is a pet-friendly one or not, most insurance companies will not cover a property where certain dog breeds live—and most include pit bulls on the list of prohibited breeds. Of course, your lease should state clearly the policy on pets. When a tenant sneaks in two cats above the one you approved, blatantly ignores your “no snakes” rule, or thinks your “no pit bulls” rule applies to another tenant, then you are within your rights and responsibility to give notice to remove the animal(s) or face eviction.

Remember, tenants don’t always read their leases. When signing a lease with a new tenant, read over each and every paragraph and make sure they understand the consequences of breaking any of the provisions of the lease. If you review a “no pets” policy with a new tenant, inform them that they will be evicted if they bring a pet into the rental unit, then moving forward with eviction is the only recourse. Other tenants will see you enforce the rules.

Surprise! Tenants are Your Customers: Keep your tenants happy by respecting their right to live quietly and enjoy a home where everything functions properly. Keep your tenants safe by installing adequate lighting and locks. Keep your tenants satisfied by giving plenty of notice when you need access to their rental unit. Help them carry the couch in on moving day. Be proactive when making routine repairs and keep everything well-maintained. You’ll be surprised how many more referrals you’ll receive when your tenants are happy.

Remember, you’re in a business where you have a product (your rental property) and a service (your management of said property) to sell, and a customer who needs them. Your tenants are your customers, and good customer service will go a long way to making the landlord/tenant relationship a more successful one.