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Landlord Policies Must be Used to Manage Tenant Evictions

Updated on June 17, 2014
Carolyn Gibson profile image

Carolyn is the retired owner of a property management company in Boston, Ma. She is the author of "Secrets to a Successful Eviction"

Every tenant should have his and her own file folder for organized record keeping
Every tenant should have his and her own file folder for organized record keeping | Source

Add Your Policies to the Lease

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Written and Signed Policies Make Better Eviction Cases

You have invested a lot of money purchasing your piece of rental income real estate. You need methods and operational procedures to maintain your investment to its highest and best use. The first time you exchange space in your building or house for money (rent), you conduct a business transaction.

There will always be situations beyond your control that will have a financial impact on you and your real estate investment. Tenant divorces, loss of employment, or disabling injuries are only some of the reason’s why you may have to evict for non-payment of rent. A tenant dealing drugs from the apartment, frequent loud parties, and vandalism of your building or appliances are other reasons you may have to evict.

Some evictions begin before you even give the keys to the new tenant. How you move in your tenant into your real estate investment could impact the way your tenant-landlord relationship will evolve. Therefore, you should take as much care in renting out your vacant apartment, as you will have to if you have to evict the tenant.

You should have policies in addition to your lease that you implement in order to keep your investment maintained. You should also take the time to read and research the local, state and federal laws and ordinances in the location of your property. Owning property without knowing how to manage your investment is like filing income taxes without knowing the tax rates and updated laws for the year. Take the time to review, purchase and read real estate management books so you can be an informed homeowner.

Your business policies should begin by using a selection process to choose the kind of tenant that you want to live in your building. It continues with your lease. This document should cover your expectations of your tenant, when and how you want the tenant to behave in your apartment, and when, how, and where the rent should be paid. A lease is the best way to avoid confusion or potential future denial about your rules by the tenant.

Every homeowner should use a written lease, especially timid homeowners. Timid or shy homeowners need a written lease to avoid dealing with an assertive or aggressive tenant. If you are new to the rental process, there are tenants who can be intimidating, or are expert in “getting over” on a new or timid landlord. By using a lease, you can quote chapter and verse of any violation to that kind of tenant, rather than allow a debate over your policies and what you said versus what you meant to say. You can also add your own policies, or lease addendums, to the master lease. If you don’t want pets in the apartment, add it to the lease. If you allow a co-signer, add a co-signer agreement to the lease.

If you choose not to use a lease, you create a month-to-month tenancy. The tenant should still know your expectations and policies regarding payment of rent, and the manner of their behavior in your apartment. It is always best to commit your policies in writing. It keeps everyone honest, and no one has to depend on memory as to what was said or understood.

Do a move-in apartment inspection with the tenant before the tenant gets the keys. There may come a time when you will have to charge the tenant for damages to your apartment. When the tenant moves out, you will have to assess, and may keep a portion of the security deposit to cover tenant damages. You have to have a beginning point in time to confirm what was damaged, and what condition of the unit existed when the tenant moved in.

What does this have to do with the rent? If you charge last month’s rent and a security deposit, how much of that rent money will be returned to your tenant may very well depend on your move-in apartment inspection. The tenant should sign the completed move-in inspection form at the same time as the lease. If your move-out apartment inspection shows considerable damage (different from wear and tear) to your apartment, you will have the right to keep a portion or all of the security deposit to make those repairs.

Always charge a fair market rent, even if your mortgage is paid up. Even to friends or relatives. In some states, if a tenant is allowed to occupy a piece of property rent free for a period of years undisturbed, that person could inherit the property under state homesteading laws. Tenants will respect your property more if you charge a rent that is close to the local rents in the neighborhood.

Rent collection must be a priority for you. It must become a habit, where you expect the rent to come in at the same time every month. You should always collect the rent as if you are deeply in debt, and need the money. In this way, paying the rent will become a priority for your tenant.

You do not do your tenant a favor by failing to adhere to a strict rent payment policy. You tell the tenant how important rent is to you by how diligent you are each and every month about your rent. The more rent the tenant owes after the first month will be even harder for the tenant to pay as time goes on. Once you start the eviction process, it sends the message that you want your rent on time, or the tenant will face legal action.

Be punctual about collecting rent. You let your tenant know that rent is not important to you when you fail to collect it on time each month. Failure to be consistent in collecting rent will cost you credibility with your tenants. The tenant’s attitude could soon develop to, “Oh she doesn’t mind if I’m a few days late, as long as she gets it.” Left unchecked, that kind of attitude could be the beginning of your getting the rent on the last day of the month, instead of the first day of the month.

Excerpt from “Secrets to a Successful Eviction for Landlords and Rental Property Managers: The Complete Guide to Evicting Tenants Legally and Quickly” by Carolyn Gibson

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