How Landlords Protect Themselves from Bad Tenants
In recent times the level of tenant delinquency has increased phenomenally due to heightened economic challenges and downright “don’t carish” behavior. In an attempt to best protect landlords, agents often conduct their best due diligence by requesting professional references, a previous landlord’s reference and trusting their gut.
Always be weary of tenants who want to move in urgently, within a day or two. Many of them are running from a tough situation, including being kicked out for non-payment, so get to the bottom of their back story before you quickly embrace them. Pay attention if coming up with the security deposit and first month’s rent is seeming like a stretch. If the start of the rental is such a financial strain, how much easier is it going to be for the tenant to come up with the rent every month?
Once you have identified a prospective tenant put everything in black & white. Have a solid lease agreement outlining: 1. The lease agreement beginning and end dates. 2. Rent and other monies due such as security deposit, pet damage deposit, etc. 3. Any utilities included, gardening maintenance, etc. 4. The usage of the property, residential, commercial, etc. 5. The obligations of the Landlord. 5. The obligations of the Tenant. 6. Rights of entry: You have a right to inspect your property while respecting the Tenant’s privacy. 7. The landlord’s rights if the Tenant doesn’t follow the agreement. 8. Proper notice on either side to vacate the property. 9. Notice of daily fees for late rent. 10. Renewal terms.
If ever you make updated adjustments to the terms of your arrangement, do not be satisfied with a verbal agreement. Many landlords want to be easygoing and shake hands to seal a deal. Remember, if issues arise and there’s nothing in writing, it will be very difficult to enforce your rights and win a case in court.
Ensure that the tenant signs the Rental Agreement prior to his signing off. Just in case the landlord has second thoughts about entering an arrangement with the tenant, even though initially agreeing to, he is free to change his mind without being legally bound. The landlord should ensure that utility transfer authorization letters are given to the tenant only when the rental agreement is signed by both parties and rental deposit received. A request should be made for a copy of the electricity transfer receipt to ensure that it has indeed been switched over to the tenant in a timely fashion.
The landlord owes it to the tenant to ensure that the property is prepared for the start of the tenancy. It should be handed over in good condition, the premises should be secure with proper locks and lighting. The grounds should be clean and all of the property’s fixtures should be in working order. An inventory should be taken of any appliances or furniture and notes made on the unit’s condition in the instance that there are aspects of wear and tear prior to the tenant moving in. Landlords need to be reminded that tenants are paying them a portion of their hard earned money every month and they owe it to them to deliver a sound property in exchange.
During the term of the tenancy, a landlord should not be dismissive of even minor infractions such as late payment by a few days. Issue a pleasant reminder that rent is due in a timely fashion. It sets the tone of the landlord-tenant relationship. If you are too casual in your approach as a landlord, your good nature will be taken advantage of.
So, landlords remember, communicate clearly, put everything in writing, do not postpone taking action and keep records. It is a professional arrangement. However, don’t be cold. The reality is that sometimes a tenant may fall into hard times. The landlord should be kind and empathetic but remember not to let the tenant’s personal issues affect the business relationship too much.
Sadly, in spite of even the best efforts, bad tenants are a reality. Be prepared.