Everyone is happy when signing the lease.
The resident has a new home and the owner has rent being paid. The owner goes to the bank, deposits the check and the resident begins moving in. What a glorious day!
Then reality sets in.
What the lease says is important
Any landlord with a year or two of experience has encountered the tenant who constantly needs help with something.
- First, it’s paying the rent a couple of days late
- Next it’s letting a friend move in with him or her
- Then it’s the “small” pet that you happen to find when you stop by to pick-up the rent check
Eventually this same person may even ask if they can give you a “good deal” on new carpeting or new tile in exchange for rent.
My favorite is when they want to use the security deposit for the last month of rent on the lease. The moving process often causes damage to a home. Even a careful tenant is likely to bang up a few doors, cause excess wear and tear on the carpeting and may even crack a tile while moving an appliance. Why would an owner give up their leverage (the security deposit) before the lease is finished and tenant has moved out?
What About A Tenant Asking For Help?
Housing providers occasionally find themselves in a tough spot when a tenant asks for help with something that is clearly defined in the lease. Most people like to help others. However, a seasoned owner will often know that being flexible once often leads to asking for more favors. If you haven’t had any of these experiences you’ve been very lucky, but just know it will happen if you continue to be a rental owner.
According to Jason R. Hanson, founder of National Real Estate Investor Month, when dealing with residents “…you can’t afford to be too ‘nice’ because it will come back to bite you and probably cost you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in the process.” If you as an owner and manager of rental property effectively screen tenants you’re much more likely to find a responsible person who will pay on time and take care of your investment.
Remember the lease is binding
Everyone needs a little help now and then but tenants need to remember that a landlord is a business owner, the house is a business and the lease is a legally binding document. How many other businesses allow you to pay some of your bill today and the remainder next week? The answer is almost none. Ask an experienced owner or manager and they will always say the rent is due on a specific date and after that it’s late and must include the late penalty.
If the rent isn’t paid by the last due date then proceed with the notice applicable in your state. These are often called something like a Notice to Pay Rent or Lease Terminates. In many states you can submit this notice yourself to the tenant and it begins your legal process to an eviction. It also can often get the tenant to pay the rent and late fees very quickly. It’s a serious reminder that you are not going to be flexible about items that are clearly listed in the lease.