Call us optimists, but we like to think most landlords out there are genuinely trying to do their best at owning and renting a property. However, we also believe that nobody is perfect.
Here are three things you might not know you’re doing wrong so that you can avoid unintentionally breaking the law and losing tenants.
Evicting a tenant after they make a complaint.
Some landlords try and be proactive by terminating a lease early if they can tell a tenant is going to be high-maintenance. Don’t do this! Instead, do everything in your power to fix the problem. Sometimes picky tenants can end up helping your rental property become even better.
If you’ve listened to their complaints and it continues to be a serious problem, you do have the option to evict someone; just make sure you go the legal route. One good option is to deliver a conditional quit or vacate notice –which gives the tenant an opportunity to fix their behavior or vacate.
Note: Rental laws vary from state to state. Check your state guidelines before taking any action against renters.
Changing the locks.
We’ve heard a lot of stories, from both tenants and landlords, about changing the locks to deal with a deadbeat renter. Unfortunately, the law won’t be on your side if you decide to go that route. Changing the locks and depositing someone’s belongings on the curb can easily end in a wrongful eviction lawsuit for landlords.
So why do people still use this method? Many landlords change the locks because they fear that a pay or vacate notice will result in retaliation during the 3-5 days that renter’s legally get to move out. If you’re worried about a tenant causing damage, in some states you may be able to file an Unconditional Vacate Notice if a tenant has been late on rent multiple times or caused serious damage.
That will allow you to file an unlawful detainer lawsuit later and possibly recoup your losses.
Entering an apartment for maintenance.
State rules vary, but unless there is a maintenance emergency you need to give advance notice before entering any property you rent. Even if a tenant has requested that you fix something, you still need to give proper notice (usually 24 hours) before you enter. You can always speak to them on a case-by-case basis to ask for permission to enter earlier, though, as long as they say it’s okay.
Failure to cover all your bases can lead to a trespassing violation and possible lawsuit.