Unfortunately, there is no "Staples Easy Button" when it comes to dealing with difficult tenants. They come from all walks of life, and their moods, personalities, quirks, desires, and eccentricities vary as much as the variety of properties that are available for rent. It is nerve-racking enough to take the leap and purchase investment property. That anxiety is all the more maddening when it involves entrusting your real property to tenants you have never before met, especially when they turn out to be people you wish you had never met.
No landlord or landlord attorney would ever wisely claim to have all the answers. However, drawing collectively on experience gained from numerous landlord-tenant legal battles, the following are some hints that may help in trying to make sense of difficult rental relationships:
Always keep a professional demeanor.
I cannot emphasize enough that this is RULE #1. Not only is this a good general rule in life, it can greatly impact any legal issues that may arise. I have seen one too many clients whose poor attitudes toward their tenants consistently cause what would normally be minor legal disputes to turn into protracted and expensive legal battles that are ruled more by emotion than logical decision making.
Require the tenants to also act in a professional, responsible manner.
Adopt a rule that states a resident agrees to act in a manner that will not disturb the peaceful and quiet enjoyment of neighbors, other residents, or unreasonably disturb your ability to manage the property or conduct business activities.
Become an expert at effectively documenting critical occurrences.
Document in writing, with video, and photographs each act that constitutes a violation and/or unreasonable disruption of your ability to manage.
Issue appropriate written notices.
Issue the resident appropriate written notices for each breach of the Lease Agreement (or Immediate Termination Notice if the violation is serious enough) with a demand that he/she communicate to management only in writing as to any concerns regarding the property. Include in the notice that the only exception to such written communication would be that of an emergency situation.
Do not be afraid to act.
Be prepared to enforce the rules if the resident continues to act in a defensive manner. Do not be afraid to stand up for yourself, but always do so in a professional and non-aggressive manner. Never let any resident be abusive to you without consequence. If you allow abuse from any resident, you open the door to continued abuse from that resident, as well as any other resident who finds out.
Treat residents fairly and consistently.
Make sure that you treat all residents consistently as to avoid Fair Housing issues. This includes developing a protocol for addressing all potential and actual tenants, both during the application process and during the lease itself.
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