Landlords have a variety of possible issues that can arise from the management (or mismanagement) of their properties. This can be the result of poor upkeep on their part, bad tenants, or a combination of both. Tenants run the gamut from pristine to monstrous, and landlords often find themselves looking into the legal ramifications of eviction. Unfortunately for many landlords, many laws on the books often support tenants more than landlords which can make resolving issues troublesome. However, if you can establish a pattern of infractions, you can make a solid case for eviction. Here are the most common tenant infractions:
Late payments—Most rental agreements have payment terms that require rent to be paid within a certain amount of time from the due date before it’s considered late. Typically it’s 3-5 days. Anything beyond that is a late payment and repeated instances of this can be grounds for eviction. For your protection, make sure tenants are aware of the conditions of the rental policy and know where to turn in rent.
It’s also important to address late payments immediately. The first time a tenant is late, be proactive and contact them to find out what is going on. Honest mistakes happen, but more often than not, one late payment will lead to further late payments. Stay on top of it and don’t fall for the excuses.
Security deposit mishaps—Tenants often believe they can pay their last month’s rent with the security deposit, hoping to save money for moving containers or other relocation fees. But landlords have a legal right to withhold the security deposit until tenants have moved out and the property has been inspected for damage. Any use of a deposit to cover rent is purely within the landlord’s discretion, so make that clear in your lease from the start so there is no confusion later on.
Disorderly conduct—Excessive noise, loud parties, risky behavior, or sloppy upkeep can diminish the value of a property and irritate other tenants who may then want to move. The tenant has a responsibility to address disorderly conduct, which can lead to an awkward and sometimes contentious encounter. The important thing to remember is to document any and all possible infractions and keep it on record. Without proper documentation, you will have no grounds for eviction in the future.
Violation of rules—Some rules are relatively trivial: leaving your garage door open unattended, taking out the recycling cans before a certain time, leaving a mailbox unattended for too long, keeping a pet when pets aren’t allowed, etc. Other violations are more serious, and can endanger property or the well-being of other tenants. If a tenant is frequently in violation of property rules, the landlord should send the tenant a new copy of the rules highlighting which ones he or she is in violation of.
Again, be a proactive landlord. If you sense a problem, investigate and address the tenant immediately. Don’t wait for the problems to escalate. If you stay on top of potential issues and keep good documentation you’ll find the eviction process will go much more smoothly if it comes to that.
Managing a property can be a tough job. It is made exponentially harder by bad tenants who blatantly violate rules, make late payments, and behave inappropriately. A landlord should prepare for the possibility of needing to evict a tenant by documenting any and all infractions that occur on the property.
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About the Author: Jeremy Vohwinkle is a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor® and spent a few years working as a financial planner. Today, he helps people make the most of their money by writing about personal finance here and elsewhere on the web. Jeremy is also Coach at Adaptu and a regular contributor for other publications such as Intuit, and American Express. Be sure to follow Jeremy on Twitter or Google+.