It's every landlord's worst nightmare: a negligent tenant who will dodge rent payments, tear a property to pieces, and drive their neighbours mad. If this sounds like one of your tenants, then use the tips below to help yourself get the upper hand.
1 - Get everything in writing
Disputes between a landlord and tenant can easily get heated, frequently due to something as simple as miscommunication. While it's not practical to have every discussion over email, it's a good idea to send a quick follow up after an in-person or phone conversations. You can say, "Just to sum up what we discussed," and then list the specific points of the visit.
2 - Understand the law
Laws regulating the balance between tenant and landlord rights can and do change. Try and stay on top of these changes. Besides ensuring that you're always in compliance with the law, you'll also be more aware when your rights as a landlord are being violated.
3 - Ensure that you're in the right
It's important for landlords to seriously consider any and all complaints received from tenants. When notices of damage arrive, you should always act quickly to remedy the situation. Even if you think the complaints have no basis, you still need to take them seriously. Remember, you may be stripped of some of your rights if you're proven to be negligent.
4 - Understand your contract
Many landlords don't understand the full terms they required tenants to sign in their contract. As a result, they may have terms that won't hold up in court, there may be gaping loopholes, or the landlord him/herself may end up in violation of the contract. To put it simply, you need to fully know your contract inside out.
While you're at it, make sure that your contract also contains a detailed list of the condition of the property and all furnishings included. Without this list, it's almost impossible to prove what damage was done by a tenant and what was preexisting.
5 - Avoid poor tenants in the first place
Obviously, the best thing is to avoid problem tenants in the first place. Of course, telling the difference between a tenant who will pay their rent on time and a tenant who will leave the place in shambles can be quite a challenge. While there's no such thing has a full-proof plan, you can give yourself a leg up by thoroughly checking references, conducting interviews, and asking questions about why they are moving.