A key aspect of land lording that’s easy for investors to overlook is providing a comfortable community for their tenants, especially with small properties that tend to require very little attention.
Providing a comfortable community environment goes beyond general maintenance and upkeep of the property. More specifically, often times the missing element that helps to keep the peace between tenants is a set of general community policies. We’ve all heard of the nice tenant who loved her apartment but decided to move after one short year because the neighbor below had a dog that never seemed to stop barking, or they smoked all the time or always left piles of smelly shoes in the hallway.
She never complained, she just packed up and moved out when the lease was up. A situation that’s 100% percent avoidable for a pro-active landlord.
The goal is to keep the tenant policies simple and to have your tenants review and sign them along with their lease. You may want to include items that are specific to the decorating and maintenance of their apartment as well. In an effort to keep this innocuous and helpful, I use the word policies instead of rules. Here is an example:
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Community Policies Addendum
Apartment: 123 Any Street Unit 1
The Community Policies are for the mutual benefits of all residents. Our intent is to provide a quiet, pleasant, and attractive home. The Community Policies are part of this Standard Apartment Lease for which you are legally bound. You also agree to observe such further reasonable Community Policies as may later be required by us for the necessary, proper and orderly care of the Community.
- In order to maintain the visual integrity of the Community, we require that only white lined drapes, blinds or shades be visible in the windows viewed from the outside.
- To insure emergency access, you shall not alter any lock or install a new lock, or attachment without our written consent. If a new lock or attachment is installed with our permission, you must provide us with a key.
- For the quiet enjoyment of all residents we do not permit any noise, music or other sounds at any time that disturb or annoy other residents.
- Prior written permission and evidence of insurance is required before acquiring any water-filled furniture.
- Please use care when hanging pictures, etc., to avoid damage to walls, wallpaper, paneling and wood work which could result in a deduction from your deposit.
- No auto or any other vehicle may be parked on the grass, or in any other area not appropriately marked for vehicle parking. Motorcycles, trucks, boats, boat trailers, campers and all other non-passenger motor vehicles are to be parked only in designated areas. Any violation of the forgoing rule will subject the vehicle to being towed without notice at the owner’s expense. You agree to hold us harmless and indemnify us if we are required to tow the vehicle of your guest. We will not be liable for damages arising as a result of towing. All vehicles must be registered with the Lessor.
- To maintain the visual appearance and quality of the Community, toys, bicycles, shoes, or other devices must be stored inside of your apartment or in designated storage areas.
- No pets are allowed in the apartment at any time without the prior written consent of the Lessor.
- Tenants are responsible for all individual apartment utilities including electric, telephone, cable, satellite, and gas. In the event tenant fails to pay for any of the utilities (either in whole or in part) and said utilities disrupts other apartment unit(s), the Lessor may chose to pay the utility invoice on behalf of the tenant, and charge back to the tenant an equal amount of the utility invoice plus 25% of the amount paid.
- It is the tenant’s responsibility to notify management in writing of a deficiency in the property. Deficiencies may include, but are not limited to such items as burned out light bulbs, non-working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, in operable doors, windows or locking mechanisms. Tenant acknowledges that s/he has inspected the property at the time of signing this agreement, and all aforementioned items are in good working order. Tenant agrees to hold Lessor harmless and indemnify against any claim made in conjunction with or as a result of property deficiencies with the exception of gross negligence on the part of the Lessor.
READ BEFORE SIGNING
For the owner: _________________________
By: _____________________ _________________________
This is a simple document and it gives new tenants clear guidelines to adhere to. With luck, you will enjoy happy, long-term tenants and less management grief.
What specific policies would you include in your Community Policies Addendum?