Jul 02, 2010 Matt Roesly
Being a landlord can be rewarding and bring you financial benefits, but you should be aware of another side of managing a rental property. I'm talking about dealing with abusive tenants that may profit from your goodwill and ignore the terms stipulated in their lease agreement.
There are laws in place protecting you from unruly tenants, but these laws can't cover all the angles of this problem. So the best thing you can do is protect yourself from so-called "nightmare tenants."
Here are some tips you should consider before having a prospective tenant sign a lease agreement: Tenant screening helps to reveal bad tenants, giving you insight into to their past behavior through public records like evictions and law suits, credit/rental history, and criminal record; for additional information, you can also contact the past landlords.
A strong lease agreement will help protect your interests and is important that both you and your tenant understand its provisions. You should have a legal adviser in your state review the legal terms of your lease on a regular basis.
Take photos of any damage and keep receipts for any repairs so you can prove the cost of any damages caused by the tenant.
Give a written notice to the tenant before you take any action against; this will provide documentation in case you need to take the tenant to court for unpaid rent or any kind of damages.
Comply with the eviction laws in your state - it will save you time and money. You should consider hiring a real estate attorney if you find yourself in a dispute with a tenant.
Treat your tenants equally and offer them equal rights; keep in mind that the Fair Housing Act protects tenants and they can file complaints against you if they feel discriminated against, threatened etc.
Keep your relationship with your tenants strictly professional. Becoming friends with tenants may give them the impression that they will be forgiven if they mistreat your property, are late with rent payments or break the lease agreement.