Many tenants are simple for property manager to manage because they pay the rent on time, renew leases when necessary, and generally only communicate when there’s an issue such as a repair need. A property manager seeks to place and keep as many of these long-term, desirable tenants in rental units as possible. However, not all renters are so easy to work with; some cause problems from the start or start out fine but begin to have problems months into their lease.
Problem tenants take many different forms. They can be argumentative with neighbors, complain about small annoyances, make late rental payments, damage property, sneak in pets and extra people, etc. Over time, the issues can come to a head, causing these tenants to break their lease agreements. When a lease agreement is broken, the property manager has to be prepared with how to handle the situation.
The following four tips help a property manager in handling tenants who violate their lease.
Top 4 tips for how a property manager should handle tenants who break a lease
- The lease contract should be clear: a lease contract should specifically lay out the penalties for breaking the lease so that there is no confusion about what will happen if they attempt to break the agreement. These consequences can keep potential problem tenants from breaking their lease. They also lay out a defined fee and financial recovery route for a property manager and reduces the chance of legal hassles if the lease agreement is broken.
- Verbally inform tenants of possible repercussions: in addition to having the rules in writing a property manager should review these clauses with their tenant verbally and have them initial or sign that the rules were discussed. This ensures that the tenant cannot claim that they were ignorant of what the penalties, fees, and additional payments that will apply if the lease is broken. This extra step also reduces the risk of future legal concerns over the consequences imposed for breaking a lease; the court will have proof that the tenants were aware of the consequences.
- Collecting payment for damages: many tenants who break their leases also damage the rental property. In these situations, all or part of the security deposit should be withheld to pay for minor damages. However, in cases where the damage caused by problem tenants far exceeds any security deposit they paid legal action should be taken and the tenant brought before the court for an attempt to recover damages.
- Proper communication: before taking any action against a tenant a property manager should formally inform the tenant in writing about what aspect(s) of the lease they will be violating if they follow through with their attempt and offer to meet with them to work things out. Not only does this create a paper trail for possible legal concerns it can also help start a process of resolution. Many tenants (even problematic ones) are open to solving problems they are having with their property manager. By informing a tenant and being willing to discuss the matter a solution that works for both parties may be in reach.
Son-Rise Property Management has been serving the property management needs of Bellingham and Whatcom County since 1996. Contact us today to see how we can help you find a rental property for your family or manage your rental properties.