One of the drawbacks to being a landlord is dealing with tenants. Disputes between landlords and tenants can be an exhausting legal and economic hassle, but it doesn’t have to be your reality.
If you’re a landlord or considering an investment in real estate, read until the end of this article to discover some vital tips that can save you. We’ll be highlighting five ways to avoid landlord-tenant disputes.
Conduct thorough tenant screening
The best way to avoid tenant disputes is before you establish a landlord-tenant relationship, by conducting a thorough tenant screening. This vital step can save you from a lot of hassle down the line because it gives you an insight into your potential tenant’s character and habits.
The screening process usually involves a background check into the individual’s income, credit history, criminal background, and references from previous landlords. For example, if you find that a prospective renter has a history of prior evictions, that could be a warning sign. Try to find out the circumstances surrounding these removals during the interview, but always confirm the person’s story with their references. Also, don’t forget to ask for an estimate of their monthly income. That will clue you in on whether they can afford to rent your property or if arguments over monthly payments are inevitable.
Finally, tenant screenings are great because they allow you to discuss property policies. For instance, if you have strict zero-tolerance for pets or smoking, the tenant interview is an excellent time to share that, if it wasn’t clearly stated in your ad.
Incorporate a well-written lease
After conducting a thorough tenant screening, the next thing is to lock your agreement in place with an air-tight landlord-tenant lease. One cannot overstate the value of a well-written contract because it could either make or break your point in a court of law.
A definitive agreement should include the legal name of both parties and their contact information, the tenancy period, and how many weeks notice anyone breaking the arrangement has to give the other person. Other things you should include in the lease include what utilities you and the tenant are responsible for providing. For instance, you might provide electricity and water only, while the tenant takes care of gas, cable, and other amenities.
Also, remember that if your agreement contains any illegal rule, a court will consider it null and void. So while you can state your no-pet policy in the arrangement, you can’t exclude it for other tenants. That’s a discrimination suit waiting to happen. You can check with a real estate lawyer to ensure your rental agreement is up to code.
Create a channel for communication
Even after going through the trouble of selecting the right tenants and setting up a well-written agreement, you still need to communicate with your tenants. Giving them a proper channel to lay their grievances in their early stages can significantly help you avert a dispute. In other words, create an easy-to-use platform where your tenants can bear their complaints. Bear in mind that this platform should be convenient for you too, as you must attend to them. There’s no point in adding a suggestion box in the building if you don’t plan on checking it often.
If your tenants are tech-savvy, you can set up a space on your website or through a third-party app for them to send in their complaints. However, texts and calls are always an option if they aren’t. It’s more crucial for the platform to be accessible and efficient than cumbersome and redundant.
Conduct regular inspections
Besides waiting for your tenants to lay their complaints about a broken pipe or faulty socket, you also have to be proactive. You can prevent minor problems from becoming significant money-draining issues through regular inspections. It also allows you to plan for potential renovations, which can help you increase your ROI. Making plans is an excellent habit that can make you a successful real estate investor while helping you avoid disputes. Remember that one of your responsibilities as a landlord is to keep your rental property safe and free from hazards.
Finally, nothing resolves a dispute faster than evidence. As a landlord, you need to learn to keep track of everything. If you want to conduct an inspection, you should record your properly-timed notice beforehand, pictures, and videos to back up your assessment of the property, including anything that needs repair. If need be, you should also account for how much you took out of the tenant’s security deposit to make repairs.
Dealing with difficult tenants is inevitable in managing real estate. But with these tips, you can keep such run-ins scarce and far between.
You can discuss other reasons your tenants can sue with a qualified property manager, who can guide you not only on how to prevent it but how to establish a better relationship with your renters.