For landlords, lease violations are a headache. If you thought that your detailed lease contract would prevent lease violations, but despite your best efforts your tenants still won't follow the rules, then this is an article for you.
These are five of the most common lease violations and how you should deal with them. Tenants have rights, but so do landlords. You can stop your tenants from destroying your property, causing complaints, or squatting for free in your house. All it takes is a little knowledge of landlord tenant law.
Tenant Not Paying Rent.
Most landlords have late fees in place to discourage late payments. If you do not, be sure to add a late fee to your lease agreement. This is one of the best ways to keep your tenants on their toes. However, if you have a tenant that simply won’t pay rent, you can take legal steps to get that tenant off your property so you can move someone in who will pay rent.
- Late fee: The first step to prevent late rent is to charge a late fee on rent payments.
- Pay Early Bonus: Some landlords attempt to dissuade late payments by offering $25-50 off the rent for payments received on or before the 1st.
- 3 Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit: Serve a 3 day notice to pay rent or quit when your tenants pay rent late. When you have a tenant who pays rent late frequently, it is in your best interest to service them the notice. This will be your documented proof if you need to take the tenant to court.
Tenant Receiving Noise Complaints.
Nobody likes living next to loud neighbors. If you are getting phone calls about your tenants’ noisiness, you can take the following steps:
- Give the tenants a warning: Call your tenants or knock on their door. Give them a warning that they have received a noise violation. Do not tell them who called in the violation; just be straightforward and tell them that a complaint was received.
- Give the tenants a 3 Day Notice to Perform Covenants or Quit: “Covenants” refers to the agreements of the rent contract. You can issue a notice that your tenants have 3 days to get their noise level down or they will be evicted.
Tenant Gets a Pet
It’s a perennial problem for landlords: you state that no pets are allowed, but your tenants get a pet anyway. If your tenants have violated your pet policy, you have several options.
- Charge a pet fee: Many landlords charge a pet fee which covers the price of steam cleaning the carpets after the tenants leave and any damage that the pets might cause.
- Give a 3 Day Notice to Perform Covenants or Quit: If charging a pet fee is not an acceptable solution for you, you can give your tenants 3 days to get rid of the pet or move out. This does not void their financial obligation outlined in your lease agreement.
Tenant Has Extended Guests
You notice that an unfamiliar car has been in the driveway constantly for the past month, and when you enter the home to perform a minor repair it looks like someone is living on the couch. Your tenants have moved in a friend and have not told you about it.
- Have the guest fill out an application: If the guest wants to live there permanently, and if this is acceptable to you, the guest must fill out an application and be added on to the lease. Of course, the guest must pass your rental screening process.
- Tell the tenant the guest must leave: If the guest refuses to fill out an application or he does not pass your rental screening process, you can tell the tenant the guest must leave.
- Give a 3 Day Notice to Perform Covenants or Quit: If the guest is not added to the lease or does not leave, you can give the tenants 3 days to get rid of the guest or move out themselves.
Tenant Is Sub-Leasing
- Sub-leasing is the more insidious version of extended guests, where the tenant charges the guest for living space without having them added to the lease. You can pursue the same solutions as for extended guests.
As a landlord, you have rights regarding the way your tenants treat your property and you. If you need to exercise those rights, you should make sure that you follow legal guidelines and document every step you take.
It is a good idea to contact an attorney or property manager in your area if you need to take legal action. These people can help you resolve your tenant issues.