Unfortunately, every landlord and property manager go through their share of issues when dealing with tenants, and while some issues can’t be avoided, taking the time to educate your tenants goes a long way.
Often, new renters can simply become poor tenants due to a lack of knowledge of their responsibilities; educating tenants in these five areas will ensure that no tenant breaks policy due to simple ignorance.
Fully Explain the Lease Agreement:
You have met with your applicant, they have passed your tenant screening process, and you have done a formal walk through of the new unit. This is often the time when a landlord will hand the tenant-to-be the lease agreement and walk away or have tenants sign on the spot. Both of these practices can lead to trouble down the road. The tenant who was instructed to sign the agreement on their own time is likely to miss key areas of importance within the agreement and is less likely to ask questions as they arise. The tenant who signed on-the-spot may feel pressured to quickly sign without reading. Fully educate your prospective renters on your expectations by arranging a meeting to sit down and read through the lease agreement together. If timing requires that you leave the lease with your tenant to sign, instruct them to initial each page. This provides you added protection by ensuring your tenants don’t immediately skip to the last page of the document without reading.
Provide a Renter Checklist:
Further, emphasize key points from the lease agreement by including them in a renter checklist. This information can include simple tasks tenants are required to accomplish, (like changing the air filters or leaving the water on in a freeze) as well as, vital lease rules about pets or roommates. Give your renters the tools they need to remember their responsibilities and they will be more likely to follow through on the mundane day-to-day care that a great tenant provides.
- Encourage/Require Renters Insurance: Most renters do not know enough about renters insurance. In fact, many tenants believe that their landlord’s insurance will cover their possessions in the case of a disaster. Explain the need for renters insurance to tenants, and requiring that tenants posses some form upon move-in. Not only will this protect them, it will guarantee that you are protected from tenant negligence. If a resident leaves the water on and floods the apartments beneath his own, insurance will cover the associated costs and you will not be left footing the bill (since tenants often do not have the cash to cover the damage in these instances).
- Follow Through on Late Fees: Unless your tenant confirmed with you in advance and there are serious extenuating circumstances, always follow through when a tenant breaks a lease term or pays rent late. Failing to enforce a policy and not following through on late fees sets a bad precedent. This can show tenants that it truly doesn’t matter, in the end, whether they stick to the lease agreement or not, and this is a lesson that is hard to unlearn. Don’t put yourself in the position of dealing with a consistently late rent payer, or a renter that always bends the rules--remain steadfast when it comes to policy enforcement.
Most renters want to be great tenants!