Currently more people than ever are renting their residential properties. More people than ever are learning that it’s not easy to be a landlord. More people than ever are discovering the nightmares of being a landlord.
If you have a rental property, you must learn the best practices for avoiding landlord nightmares. Don’t merely trust your instincts, collect your security deposit, and hope for the best. You may be unhappy when you find out that it’s very difficult to evict a tenant, and, just because you have collected a month’s security, you are really not adequately protected.
After the rental rate is determined, money could still be a problem when you agree to rent your property.
- Obtain a credit report. If you are not completely satisfied with the credit report, ask for an explanation. Unfortunately, due to the economy, there are many worthy prospective tenants who have problems with their credit history. If you like the tenant, believe the explanation, and think he or she might make a good tenant, request more than one month’s security. Then you can protect yourself from a common tenant practice, not paying the last month’s rent and informing you that it’s covered by the security.
- Make sure your lease covers all the money issues: who pays for the landscaper, the water, the electricity, the trash pickup, the cable or satellite TV, the maintenance on the appliances and the exterior, window and roof repairs. Even some of the items sound insignificant or obvious, itemize everything.
- Clearly spell out the day of the month on which the rent is due. An interesting idea to avoid chasing your tenant for the rent is to offer a discount of at least $50 to $100 if you receive the rent by x of the month.
Uses and occupants of the property
- Inquire as to the uses and common practices of the tenant: Are they musicians who might make too much noise for the neighborhood or building? Does the tenant work at home? If so, are there any employees?
- What is the prospective occupancy rate? If you require a limit or there are zoning restrictions regarding occupancy, specify the limits in the lease.
- Does the tenant have any pets? If so, protect yourself from possible damage. If the residence has carpeting, specify the penalty if the carpeting is damaged.
Document the condition of the property
Make an appointment to go over the property with the tenant, to discuss relevant operating instructions, and inspect the property. Photograph each room from several angles to document the current condition of the property. You may need the pictures to support your claim on the tenant’s security deposit.
If these best practices for avoiding landlord nightmares sound like a time consuming nightmare, they are. But if a dispute with a tenant lands in court you will need all the information and documentation you’ve gathered along the way.