What to Do When You Have a Problem Tenant

problem tenantIt’s the situation every landlord dreads: you have a signed lease with a tenant for your property, they’re all moved in, and now they’re causing problems. Depending on the severity of the issues, a simple conversation is all that’s needed. Other issues prove more challenging, so we’ve come up with some tips on the best ways to handle a problem tenant.

Know the Law

The first thing you need to do is research the laws governing rental properties in your area. They vary by state and city, so be sure to get very specific in looking up all the laws that apply to your area. There are statutes designed to prevent landlords from taking advantage of their tenants, but there are also laws that protect landlords. Know your rights and know the rights of your tenants.

Update Your Lease

Ideally, you want to do this try to avoid any problems before they begin by including terms in your lease that define problem areas and what the consequences will be to tenants who don’t act in accordance with the lease agreement. The lease is a contract that defines the relationship between the landlord and the tenant, so it is of the utmost importance that you make your expectations clear in the lease.

In the event that doing so doesn’t successfully avoid problems, it can help you deal with problems when they do arise by laying down the groundwork and a procedure for how you should act if a tenant becomes a problem. If a tenant does become problematic, be sure to stick to your own policies and procedures when dealing with the problem.

Document Everything

This starts with the lease and should go all the way up to eviction (if it comes to that). You should also have your own incident reports people can fill out any time there’s a complaint, and keep in mind this should go both ways. While you’re documenting every time your tenant causes problems, you should also give them a chance to document complaints against you. Provide them with a report they can fill out and make sure you both keep a copy of that report. The report should also include if and how you handled the situation so you can avoid any surprises coming back to bite you.

Any time you get an email or text message from neighbors complaining about your tenant, keep all those emails so you have a record of complaints. Also keep emails and text messages exchanged between you and your tenant and keep notes of conversations and phone calls, even the positive ones.

Late rent payments, warnings, notices served, complaints, and maintenance requests should also all be carefully documented.

If the cops are ever called to come to your rental unit and there’s a police report, get a copy of that report.

Keep It Professional

Plenty of problem tenants have their share of sob stories, and while you should always be respectful and understanding, you are not there to dole out favors. You are there to run a business, and if they’re not holding up their end of the agreement, for any reason, you need to act in accordance with your policies and procedures.

If you have any other questions about how to handle a tenant who’s causing problems for you, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced attorney today.

The attorneys at Sherer Law Offices have been providing legal representation for real estate cases, criminal cases, and all types of family law for more than 25 years. Our experienced divorce attorneys will take the time to really listen to your unique situation so that they can plan strategies that can best protect your best interests. 

The Basics of Renting from a Landlord’s Perspective

rentingRenting out or subleasing a space can be a great way to make a little extra cash, but it can also be a hassle. You’re the one who is ultimately responsible for the space, and yet you’re essentially inviting a stranger to live there for a specified (or sometimes unspecified) amount of time. It’s tricky, so we’ve compiled a list of tips to help you become the best landlord ever.

Set Expectations

Make it clear in the listing how much rent will be as well as what your system is for utilities, deposits, and any application fees you might decide to charge. Being clear and upfront about what you expect from potential renters will make the rest of the process go that much more smoothly.

Once you have someone who wants to rent and to whom you feel comfortable renting the space, make sure your contract lays out all the details. Aside from rent and utilities, you’ll want to include things like:

  • How long the lease will last and what are the conditions and/or consequences for either one of you cancelling the lease;
  • Whether they’re allowed to sublet and under what terms;
  • Whether they’re allowed roommates; if so, how many; and under what terms;
  • If and under what terms you may raise the rent;
  • When rent is due, if there’s a grace period, and if so for how long; and
  • Consequences for failing to pay rent/utilities on time.

Document Everything

Starting before your tenant even moves in, you should get in the habit of documenting everything. Take notes and pictures of the space before they move in so you can tell if they’ve done any damage to it by the time they leave, have an ironclad lease agreement, and document all your conversations. Every email conversation with your tenant should have its own file and all text messages should be saved. You can record phone conversations and even in-person conversations if you feel the need (and you’re not violating any laws). Otherwise you can just take notes of each conversation you have with your tenant and make sure to keep those notes together and in a place where you won’t lose them.

Communication Is Key

Finally, the key to any successful relationship is communication. If you start having concerns after your tenant moves in, don’t hesitate to talk to them about it right away. Dealing with it sooner rather than later makes it easier to stop the problem before it becomes an issue. When addressing any potential problems with your tenant, always approach them calmly and respectfully, explain the issue, and ask them to stop. If they can’t for some reason, try to work with them on a way to make the issue less problematic for everyone involved.

There is no fool-proof way for avoiding problem tenants, but by using the tips we’ve provided here, you can help stop many of the common renter issues before they start. If a problem does arise, dealing with it immediately and in a calm, respectful manner can also help your relationship with your tenant and prevent a situation going from bad to worse.

The attorneys at Sherer Law Offices have been providing legal representation for real estate cases, criminal cases, and all types of family law for more than 25 years. Our experienced divorce attorneys will take the time to really listen to your unique situation so that they can plan strategies that can best protect your best interests. 

5 Things to Remember if You Intend on Buying Rental Property

buying rental propertyBuying rental property can be a great way to build your wealth. There a very few differences between buying your own home and buying rental property. Here are a few things you need to know before you begin investing in real estate.

Do Your Homework

This part can be difficult because you might not know what questions to ask. Some of the questions you might want to ask include:

  1. What type of investment property are you interested in?
  2. How much property can you afford to buy?
  3. What neighborhood would you like to invest in?
  4. What is the average rental price for property in that area?
  5. What type of return on your investment are you looking for?

To answer these questions, you need to consult with some experts. Contact your banker or even a real estate attorney for advice and answers to your questions.

Make Your Plan

It is recommended that you put your plan down on paper to make it easier to refer back to when necessary. This is where you will decide how much house you can afford to buy. Set your price and stick to your goal. You don’t want to get distracted by a house that is way over your budget. By putting down your plan you will be able to stay true to your goals.

Pre-Arrange Financing

The most common mistake that home buyers make is not having arranged their financing ahead of time. If you go out searching for a home without having financing already in place, you run the risk of missing out on the perfect property. Having financing in place will also help you stay true to your goals, and your budget, by having a set amount to spend already in place. Be sure to talk to your banker about your spending limit before you go out looking for your rental property.

Find Your Property and Make an Offer

There are a lot of great ways to find a property to invest in. You can look on real estate sites such as Realtor.com or Zillow.com. You can even work with a real estate agent to find the property that is perfect for you. Typically, a real estate agent is paid by the seller when you buy a home. So for you, using your own “buyer’s real agent” is at no cost to you personally. (Note: This applies more to a home already listed by an agent, as a seller for a home “by owner” may be less negotiable on price if they agreed to pay your buyer’s agent commission.) A word of advice as well is that it might be helpful to find an agent that specializes in working with investors. They will be more aware of what makes a good rental property, and they will be able to help you stick to your goals by only showing you property that is in your price range.

Once you have found a property you would like to buy, the next step would be to make an offer. The real estate agent will complete the paperwork and submit the offer to the seller. There will most likely be some negotiation. Keep your purchase amount in mind and be willing to walk away if things don’t go your way. If you can’t agree on a price that is suitable for you, then it’s time to look elsewhere. Not having a deal is better than being stuck with a bad deal.

If you are successful with your offer, there are a few things you need to remember regarding the nuts and bolts of the purchase agreement. Some of these include the closing date deadlines, inspection contingencies and deadlines for requests to make repairs, the seller’s financial concessions, and more. All of these things are part of your offer and should be spelled out clearly in any well-written contract. Do your due diligence and do what you have to do according to your agreement with the seller. Also, it is always recommended that you hire an inspector to inspect the property. If something is found, you may need to go back and re-negotiate with the seller on who will conduct the repairs and/or whether there will be a reduction of sale price in lieu of repairs. This is an extremely important step, as you don’t want to get stuck with a property that eats into your expected profits due to costly maintenance issues.

You Are Now a Landlord

The deal has been done and now you are a landlord! Now it is time to learn how to rent out your property, how to be a successful landlord, and how to screen your prospective tenants. Some helpful links include:

There are so many things for you to consider when investing in a rental property. The smartest thing you can to is contact an experienced real estate attorney at Sherer Law Offices. We can walk you through the steps you need to make the best investment possible. We also will review real estate contracts and help steer you in the right direction for buying your rental property.

CONTACT US TODAY!

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