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Firm But Fair - Be A Consistent Landlord

April 17, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 120

I have said it before and I'll say it again, there is more to being a landlord than buying a piece of property and collecting rent. In this article, I would like to address one of the in between steps; specifically, dealing with tenants who are not holding up their end of the bargain.

Before you rent a unit to any tenant, you should present them with a written form outlining the building rules, procedures, etc. This should be done in person so that you can answer any questions, make any clarifications, and most importantly address with your tenants your expectations of them.

Tell them up front what you will do in the event repairs are needed, upgrades need to be made, or neighbor complaints, etc. By laying these things out in person and in writing up front, you should eliminate any confusion later. The main thing is to inform the tenants what the rules will be in the event of continuous bad behavior, failure to pay, or any other issues that may arise.

Once these guidelines are set, make sure that you stick to them. If you decide on a three strike policy with disturbance complaints, then you have effectively given your tenants three warnings in writing: one at the beginning, and two more after the said incidents. After the third strike, begin proceedings to find new tenants.

Do not arbitrarily decide which rules you are going to enforce and which ones you are going to ignore; this sets a precedent for all your tenants, and that opens you up to more headaches in the long run. The most common problem you may have to deal with is late payments. Once again, your policy should be addressed before your tenants move in, so there should be no surprises if and when you have to take action. That being said, nothing can take the place of effective communication for getting your rent money.

For example, if you have a tenant who has never missed a payment, and all the sudden he doesn't pay, the natural conclusion would be something is wrong. Talk to them and find out what that is. Perhaps there was a medical emergency or some small issue that hindered their ability to pay that month.

One missed payment from a reliable renter, if there is an explanation and verifiable reasons, is not a cause for action. However, if it continues, and a pattern is set, then clearly the problem is bigger than a one time emergency, and you must act.

I have found the best thing to do is address the tenant face to face, and talk to them. By not being confrontational, but rather trying to come up with a solution, you will get better results. If a tenant consistently cannot make the payments, the obvious reason is that the apartment is too expensive.

In this situation, I recommend presenting options to the tenant. The best case scenario would be to come to an understanding, letting them know that you will give them one month to find another place to live. In return for the extra month, and maybe forgiving their debt, you could offer to let the tenant prepare the unit to be turned over.

By painting, cleaning, and making any small repairs needed, he works off his debt and you save time and labor costs. This option is the best for all parties concerned, but it might not always be possible. In that case, you need to prepare for an eviction, which I will address in a later article.

My point here is that communication is paramount to being a good landlord. By being willing to listen and being a little understanding, you will create an atmosphere where tenants want to live, and that will make your life easier.

By the same token, once you have decided that it is time to act, you have no choice but to follow through on your decision; you owe that to every other tenant you have, and it makes you consistent, which will be appreciated by everyone.

Jonathan James is the proprietor of, providing tips and strategies for making money from rental properties. To learn more about the realities of owning rental property, go to now!

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