5 things your tenants will do that will drive you NUTS!
Now that you are a landlord it is unavoidable. Your tenants are going to do things that will drive you NUTS! Since you cannot avoid that fact you might as well learn the best way to deal with it. Here are the top 5 things that your tenants are going to do that will drive you NUTS and how you should handle them.
1. Complain about the neighbors.
This is especially true if you buy a multifamily home. Duplexes tend to be the worst. Tenants in apartment buildings will complain about the neighbors as well but generally they are mentally prepared to deal with neighbors. They know going in that they will be in close proximity to others. This is not true for tenants in duplexes. Tenants in duplexes are basically moving into an apartment but expecting a single family house.
Avoid the urge to over step. Your job is to provide safe and habitable housing. Not to police the tenants behavior. If you get a call from the downstairs tenant complaining about noisy footsteps from the upstairs tenant you are sure to get an earful when you call the upstairs tenant. It is very common for both the upstairs and downstairs tenants to complain that about the SAME THING. You will inevitably be caught in a "he said, she said" battle royal. You need to put out this fire as soon as it starts.
As soon as you get the first call from one of the tenants complaining about the other tenants "obnoxious" behavior be sure to inform the complaining tenant that you are not their parents. You are unable to police their behavior. Explain that they are adults and should handle minor disputes as such. Inform the tenants that they will be living in close proximity to their neighbors and encourage open communication between the two parties.
2. Block each other in with their cars.
You will have this conversation many times in your landlording career.
Tenant "The upstairs tenants are blocking in my car"
Landlord "Did you ask them to move their car?"
At this point allow me to refer back to the solution for number 1. Explain that they are adults and should handle minor disputes as such. Inform the tenants that they will be living in close proximity to their neighbors and encourage open communication between the two parties.
3. Break up with their boyfriend/girlfriend.
A couple is in love and they rent a home from you. All is well until the love wears off and they part ways. One of them moves out and contacts you about being removed from the lease. DO NOT remove this person from your lease. In the event things go south with the remaining tenant you still have the other tenant on the hook for a potential eviction which could damage their credit. This extra leverage gives the person who has moved out of the home an incentive to help make sure that you still receive your rent payments from the remaining tenant until the lease is over.
4. Pay their rent late.
The best way to deal with this situation is to enact a late fee and enforce it. Without a penalty for being late the tenant will just push the envelope further and further every month. Be prepared for a lot of excuses for why the rent is late. Stand your ground and enforce your fees. Remember the tenant is usually more afraid of an eviction then you are. A late fee is a lot cheaper than a moving truck.
5. Threaten to call their lawyer on you.
Many tenants will threaten to contact their lawyer to sue you when things do not go their way. This tactic only works when the landlord is uneducated about their rights and duties as a landlord. The uneducated landlord panics and gives in to whatever demand the tenant has because of their fear of these empty threats.
In the event your tenant threatens to call their lawyer on you DO NOT PANIC. Before placing any tenants in your properties educate yourself on your rights and duties as a landlord. Have your lawyer draft your lease agreement. At the very least draft your own lease and have your lawyer review your lease agreement. When you know for a fact that you are not in the wrong an empty threat of a lawsuit from a tenant can be an annoyance that you are able quickly deflect by confidently replying to the tenant that you know your legal rights and duties and have not violated any laws and you encourage them to seek any legal counsel they feel appropriate.
About the author:
James Wise is the Broker and Owner of The Holton Wise Property Group, a real estate brokerage and property management company operating one of the largest scattered site rental property portfolios in the greater Cleveland, Ohio area. He has been a guest speaker on several real estate internet radio shows and podcasts. He regularly writes blogs and articles for multiple real estate related websites. He is an active member of the National Association of Realtors® and the Akron Cleveland Association of Realtors®.