Avoid Landlord-Tenant Disputes- Tips for Property Owners
Conflicts between tenants and landlords most commonly arise from lease misunderstandings or differences in how each party interprets the lease. For example, if the lease states that pets are allowed but doesn’t specify how many or what kind, it can lead to a considerable disagreement between landlords and tenants. Therefore, as a landlord, it’s crucial to be as specific as possible while listing rules and responsibilities in your lease.
In this situation, if you don’t want to deal with pet damages in your rental home, place limits on how many pets are allowed, what kind of pets are allowed, and what breeds are allowed. Then, it’s up to the tenant to comply with the rules.
Now, let’s go over a few other related reasons for landlord-tenant disputes.
1. Screen Tenants
Landlord-tenant disputes can arise from many different sets of circumstances. Many of them, though can be avoided if you have tenants who are thoughtful, grateful, and responsible for making payments.
As a property owner and landlord, you have the ability to learn about the background of those who rent with you. With a quality tenant screening process, you can find out criminal reports, credit reports, and enough to give you a sense of their track record with creditors in the past.
Screening is no guarantee that everything will be smooth, but to start out, you can make sure and do your homework before handing over the keys.
2. Market Your Property and Fill Your Space on Your Terms
Let’s be honest for a second. When cash is tight, nobody makes good decisions. If you have a property you need to fill with a tenant and you are not getting much interest, it makes you more likely to settle.
Even if you are screening well, it can be tough to let the property sit open and turn down the cash from a willing renter.
Good marketing will keep a steady flow of leads so you can be selective in who you work with.
Take proactive steps in marketing so you can make good decisions. Don’t wait until you are desperate to start looking for tenants.
3. Set Proper Expectations
When you have reached an agreement and are about to have a tenant move in, this is the perfect time for communication. You have their full attention and now is a chance to get the relationship started on the right foot.
What are potential areas for disputes? Typically those will be related to improper use of the property, failure to make timely payments, or a maintenance dispute.
Think through these and address them right from the beginning. You can plant a seed in your tenant’s mind about what won’t be tolerated and it will stick with them.
We recommend a welcome letter to kick things off, make them feel at home and also to give a comprehensive overview of the property and your expectations.
4. Maintain Communication
Just like in a marriage, all relationship issues usually come down to poor communication.
As a landlord, you could be tempted to fall into the trap of focusing on all the different moving parts of managing your properties that you neglect consistent communication with tenants.
Maintenance issues and regular check-ins allow for quick conversations that keep rapport with tenants and allow you to ensure everything is going well.
Many landlords miss an opportunity to build a good relationship with their tenant during a maintenance request. Landlords understandably view maintenance requests as distractions and let their frustration show.
By using technology for maintenance requests, landlords can simplify the process and communicate confidence to tenants.
This is just one example of keeping the lines of communication open with tenants to reduce friction for potential disputes down the road.
The value here is if there is some small issue starting to appear, it can be addressed while it’s still small. And by maintaining a harmonious relationship and trust, you increase the chance that your tenant will bring the issue to you, rather than making it into a legal situation.
5. Have a Solid Lease Agreement
No matter how well you screen and communicate, disputes are inevitable. The best thing you can do is make sure you have a solid lease agreement from the beginning.
This agreement is going to be the basis of resolving any issue, so you need to understand what it says.
You can also use the agreement to settle potential issues before they become major by pointing things out to your tenant and gently reminding them.
Ultimately the best landlord-tenant dispute is one that never happens. Do everything in your power to remove any ambiguity and be clear and transparent with tenants.
Want to Build a Quality Landlord-Tenant Relationship?
Of all the ways to be a successful landlord, building a quality relationship with your tenants is one of the most important. Luckily, you can count on your local property management team to help you develop the relationship you want with your tenants.
Overland Management's qualified team of professionals are prepared and proven to help you successfully manage your rental business. So, if you need help keeping up with tenant communication, financial reports, or just the day-to-day tasks of your rental property, contact us today!