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What are Your House Rules?

by Kevin Perk on March 10, 2014 · 15 comments


As landlords, we have a set of house rules that go with our rental properties.  They are an addendum to our lease and we sit with every new and approved applicant and read them word for word.

I like to keep the rules separate from the lease.  It just seems a bit easier to administer that way.  But there is no reason the rules could not be an actual part of your lease.  Either way, if you do not have a set of house rules for your rental properties, you should develop some today.

What are Your House Rules?

Some of our rules are pretty standard stuff.  No loud music.  Keep your place clean and free of garbage.  No candles or waterbeds.  No grilling within 10 feet of the building along with several other standard rules.

It seems, however, that every year we have to add more rules because tenants just keep coming up with “interesting” ways to live their lives.  Some things are truly unique.  Other things which I thought were common sense actually have to be spelled out.

Related: By Request, Here are my Tenant Rules!

For Example:

  • Lock your doors.
  • If you are burglarized, call the police first.
  • No inside furniture outside.
  • I do not negotiate between tenants.  I am not your mom.
  • You are an adult, act like one and treat other tenants as you would like to be treated.
  • Do not disconnect or disable the smoke detector.
  • Don’t flush objects down the toilet.
  • Don’t pour grease down the drain.
  • No couch surfing.  (look up
  • Don’t attach satellite dishes to my buildings.
  • Bad things will happen to you, your rent will still be due on the 1st of every month.
  • Pay your rent first, then pay your other bills.

Related: Your Tenant Left You High and Dry (the Horror!) Here Are Your Next Steps…


As I said, we read our house rules to our new tenants word for word.  Almost every time they snicker and say “Did someone really do that?”  Yes, someone really did that.  That is why that is in the rules.  And every year, one of our tenants will do something that will make us add another rule to the list.

I wonder what it will be this year?

So what have your tenants done?  What have you had to add to your house rules?  Please share with your comments.

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

James March 10, 2014 at 2:40 pm

“Couchsurfing” Yes, I just learned what that is last week when I had to confront a tenant about whether the “surfing” was more that 14 days a year. My youngest tenants are late 20s and your list still applies to these “so called” adults. I guess it’s taking kids longer to grow up with mid-thirties now what mid-twenties used to be. Parents just don’t know when to let go and when they finally do, these kids are looking for a pseudo parent…and try to make the landlord their parent/friend. Got to lay down the rules and help these kids become adults.

By the way, I looked up and that is the scariest thing that I have ever heard of. Sounds like the perfect scenario for a serial killer or some other criminal. In this day and age…..


Kevin Perk March 10, 2014 at 10:07 pm


It is kind of scary. We had to put a stop to that sort of thing because you just have no idea who is in your property. I really hope that no one learns that couch surfing is a bad idea the hard way.

Thanks for reading and commenting,



Sharon Tzib March 11, 2014 at 9:51 am

My pet peeve is even though getting a pet requires that you ask, in writing, for permission per my lease, I have caught tenants on a couple of occasions bypassing that rule. It takes a lot of audacity to get a pet when you know you’re not allowed. They must think I’m one of those landlords that doesn’t do inspections, but since I do, I always bust them, and they have to cough up the deposit fee. They’re lucky I let them keep the pet :)


Kevin Perk March 11, 2014 at 11:01 pm


Same here. They usually get caught. On the bright side, most a decent pet owners.

Thanks for reading and commenting,



Kimberly H. March 11, 2014 at 3:11 pm

Great post, some stuff on this list that I will add to my lease.

But, what do you actually do when you (or any other landlord reading this) find out someone didn’t follow a rule? Do you evict someone because you know they used a candle? Or not renew their lease?

I ask because I have a tenant who seems to feel she can do whatever she wants…we approved her dog, and 3 of 3 times there has been a litter box there for a cat she is babysitting, and I have seen on Facebook she took in two foster puppies for who knows how long. But, she is a single mother of 3 young kids, 2 of which in the schools, working for her dads company a few miles away, so she could be a long term tenant.

Is not having turnover for who could be a long term person who breaks a few rules better than not renewing and taking chances on the next person? I don’t have enough landlord experience to know yet.


Kevin Perk March 11, 2014 at 11:09 pm


As you may have guessed, all the rules mean nothing unless you enforce them. On the flip side of that, you can drive yourself crazy trying to enforce the rules and police everyone.

We will usually just send a gentle reminder on the first offense, much like a police officer might let you go with a warning. Letters and warnings become more severe if offenses continue. Then, at some point you have to decide what you want to do. You have rules that are being flagrantly disobeyed. If you continue to ignore you are approving the behavior and then what recourse do you have with more serious issues?

Eventually we will tell folks their lease is not being renewed or prod them into moving. At some point you have to make a stand, otherwise an inch will turn into a mile.

Hope that helps you. It is never fun but being a tough landlord has to be done sometimes.

Thanks for reading and commenting,



Kimberly H. March 12, 2014 at 9:30 am



Chris Volkers March 13, 2014 at 11:56 am

The biggest one I am having trouble with is No Smoking. Do they think I can’t tell?

My “Rules” state explicitly that you will most likely lose your entire deposit if your apartment smells like smoke… but you certainly don’t want to tell a current tenant that they have already lost their entire deposit!

How have others dealt with this?


Kevin Perk March 16, 2014 at 6:48 pm


They are addicted and It is hard to be a policeman.

If discovered, I would notify them of the violation and give them a chance to fix the issue. Otherwise when they move out I would enforce the lease.

Thanks for reading and commenting,



Ryan March 13, 2014 at 12:14 pm

1. No motorcycles inside the house.
2. No wild animals inside the house.
3. No roadkill on the property
4. No grills inside the house.

Had to address each of these issues in the past.


James March 13, 2014 at 3:35 pm

Ryan, thanks for making me laugh out loud!!!
I was hoping that your list was a joke, but then I read your last sentence. Your rentals must be in the backwoods in some rural area. Please don’t tell me that they’re in the city!


Ryan March 14, 2014 at 7:47 am

The motorcycles and grills were in the city. Roadkill and wild animals were in a town of about 300 people. Actually walked in to do some maintenance and tenant was heating up the frying pan and cutting up a squirrel he just ran over. I swear I heard banjos playing.


Kevin Perk March 16, 2014 at 6:52 pm


That is an interesting list. I have a fellow investor here in Memphis who will not rent to anyone who owns a motorcycle. They always end up in the house he says.

Thanks for reading and commenting,



Abel Vazquez March 17, 2014 at 9:07 am


This always an interesting topic. It is just funny to me how some people just need to be babysitted, but what are you going to do right, people are people and they are likely going to do dumb things although the couch surfing is first for me. That just raised to bar to a new level. Well anyways I am fairly close to purchasing my first buy and hold investment and just want to let you that I find your information very valuable and thank you.



Kevin Perk March 17, 2014 at 10:40 pm


Thanks! I am glad I am able to help. Good luck with your first purchase. I hope you have many more. Let me know if I can help in the future.



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