When you become a landlord the first step is understanding leases. I am often amazed when I am interviewing potential tenants how many do not have a documented lease. How can a tenant be expected to know how much notice to provide.
I agree a verbal lease will work in most places, however, it offers very little protection for the landlord or tenant in the case of a dispute.
The state or provincial rules will be enforced. The problem is, that this will likely work in favor of the tenant.
For example: Joe landlord makes a verbal agreement to lease an apartment for one year to Bob tenant. In my area, if Bob tenant wants to leave at the end of a one year lease, he would have to provide three months notice before the end of the year, or it would automatically renew for another year.
During Bob tenants second month of tenancy, he decides he wants to leave and move in with his girlfriend. He calls Joe landlord and provides a verbal 30 day notice to quit. Joe landlord points out that they agreed to a one year lease.
Bob tenant disagrees, and claims he only agreed to a month to month lease, and all he needs to provide is 30-day notice to quit.
Here is the challenge: They do not have a written agreement. If it goes to a residential tenancy hearing, Joe landlord will likely have trouble with his side of the story.
He will automatically lose some credibility with the tenancy board, due to the fact that he did not have a written lease.
In my opinion landlords and tenants should always have a written lease agreement. It is the responsibility of the landlord to explain the lease to the tenants.
I hope you enjoyed my 30 day notice to landlord post.
If you want to read a full section on lease agreements, hop over to Amazon and buy our book: Landlord by Design – Complete Guide to Residential Property Management
rats never give up, or do they eventually.
I want to share a story, that lead to rat education for me and my tenant of a single family home I had rented to a couple.
I recieved a call one hot July day, that there was a rat sighting in the house. The tenants seemed upset about the situation.
I went to the house and set some traps. It was about a week later, I recieved another call from the tenant. She said there was a foul odar coming from the closet that holds the water heater.
I paid a visit and found a decomposing rat in one of the traps I set.
There I am on a hot July day day standing in the kitchen of this house with a dead rat in a trap, and I notice maggots falling on the floor. Fortunately I had cleaner, paper towel and a garbage bag, so I was able to quickly clean up the maggots that were squirming around on the kitchen floor.
About two months went by, and another call came in. Yes, you guessed it, another rat sighting.
This time I called in an expert for some help. I called a professional exterminator, that I have used before. He came out and set up some poison traps.
I asked him to survey the property and make recommendations on how I can prevent rats from entering the house.
He made some recommendations, and showed me some spots around the foundation / crawl space, that he thought they might be getting in. I had my handyman come out and seal up areas, that were of concern.
He also mentioned rats do not like change. He said to move things around in the crawl space basement. That might be enough to have them leave.
He also pointed out how destructive rats can be. They can eat through pretty much any material. Not even metal can stop them, if they want to enter a building.
He also suggested items, I needed to address with the tenant.
I thanked him, them I met with the couple renting the house, and told them what the exterminator said.
You see, this couple was not big on lawn mowing, so the first thing the exterminator suggested was to keep the grass cut short. I also had to talk to them about the overflowing garbage cans (apparently they missed garbage day).
The good news, is that, this situation happened a few few years back, and I have not had any rat issues since (with this property).
Have you had any hard to deal with rodant problems?
I wrote a whole chapter on the subject. Chapter 10 in my book.
This is a guest post from an amazing American Landlord / Property management resource.
Liability is always a concern for landlords. Thus, it’s easy to understand why the mention of “mold” and “millions” together would give a property owner nightmares. Not only is indoor exposure to mold known to cause respiratory problems and other health issues in some individuals, but mold is everywhere — and because moisture is critical to its ability to grow to elevated levels, something as simple as a leaky pipe could prove costly.
A web search for “mold lawsuits” reveals horror stories, one about a couple ordered to pay nearly $3 million in damages for selling a California home rife with mold. The same search shows that numerous law firms stand ready to sue property owners on behalf of tenants who believe mold made them sick.
While causation is difficult to prove, you as a landlord have enough to do without being tied up in court. And whether there is litigation or not, a prevalence of mold could lead to tenant loss.
For a landlord, mold remediation can save a host of problems. (Document efforts in case of legal proceedings.)
Mold issues in buildings are a result of water/moisture problems. Mold also needs an organic food source — and many building materials serve that purpose — and high relative humidity. The water source is the easiest factor to control.
As a landlord, the mold problem is not yours alone. Mold can grow in 24 to 48 hours after a water intrusion, so the tenant bears some responsibility for notifying the landlord the mold situation or water leak exists, and for reporting water stains that indicate a leak. Tenants also should use exhaust fans and control humidity. Mold can be hidden in many places, and a landlord generally cannot be held liable unless he or she knew — or should have known — the problem existed.
If the area where mold is growing is small, researching how to clean mold as the landlord and doing the work yourself can save the cost of hiring a mold remediation specialist.
As a landlord, the mold issue is one you must take seriously. Acting quickly and thoroughly can reduce liability risks. The accompanying infographic describes some typical mold situations, steps for mold remediation, and tips to prevent mold.
Landlord by Design, associates and owners, do not take any responsibility for the information in this article written and presented by Straight North internet Marketing and American Apartment Owners Association. You are using the information contained in this post at your own risk.
signs your tenant is going to leave
I have had many people ask me about signs their tenant is going to leave. I usually get asked when it is too late.
For example: a tenant might ask a landlord or property manager something like:
How much notice do I have to give to get out of my lease?
Can I use you as a referance for an apartment I am looking at?
The big question I ask to landlords and property managers is, what are you doing to proactively keep your tenants?
In my opinion tenants rent for location and lifestyle first, then the unit / building, then the landlord / property manager.
for example if you have a run down property with crappy management, but you are located on the campus of a major university with limited housing options, you will likely be always full and be collecting maximum rent.
One of our observations based on tenant profile, will indicate how long you will keep a tenant right from the start.
I would say the average time a tenant will stay in a property is 2.5 years.
If they are moving to the area with a family to take a job and establish themselves in a community, they will likely rent for about 1.5 years, before they buy a house.
If you have elderly tenants, that time frame could be longer.
If you rent a single family home to an established family, that could also be longer.
If you are targeting professors or mature students, your average tenancy maybe shorter. It could be as short as a 4 month fixed term.
If you are doing group leases to 4 or more students on an annual basis, you will likely turn the unit over once per year, unless you are lucky to find a group willing to live together for more than one year.
So, what are some other reasons tenants will leave seemingly without reason.
Let’s not forget, people are polite by nature and do not like confrontation. This means, most people will not come out and tell you they are starting to look around.
You need to think proactively,
Ask yourself these questions:
Are your properties in good condition?
Do you respond quickly to solve maintenance issues or other tenant concerns?
Are you charging the correct amount of rent?
Do you provide good value to your tenants?
Are your properties properly managed?
Do your current tenants have a history of being long term tenants at previous places they have lived?
Do your current tenants have a history of short tenancy at previous addresses?
Do you rent to young professionals, that have the ability to buy a house, instead of renting?
What is the real estate market like in your area, such as: Is it a good climate to buy instead of rent? Are housing prices high, making it difficult for people to buy? Are housing prices low and rent is comparitively high, making it better to buy instead of rent?
Is there a culture in your area, that encourages people to buy homes, instead of renting (this is the culture in Canada and the USA)? It is considered a good idea and a natural thing to do as a family.
Are there newer or renovated properties in your area charging the same amount of rent?
That ends the self reflection portion of the post, now let’s dig into some signs, some are subtle, some are not.
Your tenant asks you how much notice they need to give, to get out of their lease?
Your tenant asks if they can use you as a reference for an apartment they are looking at?
Your tenant is not getting along with your superitendent or property manager.
Your tenant is not getting along with one or more other residents in the building?
You notice that your tenant has a boyfriend / girlfriend staying with them a lot?
You notice that your tenant is not staying in their place, and it is becoming an expensive closet for them?
Your tenant asks if they can have a pet and you do not allow it, due to a no pet policy.
Your tenant asks for a rent consession due to a change in income level or job loss.
Your tenant asks for a change in the amount of tenants in the apartment, such as wanting to add a couple of roommates.
Your tenant asks for several renovations, and you do not agree to them?
Your tenant tells you in casual conversation about a sick close realative they wished they lived closer to, so they could care for them.
You notice your tenant is having trouble walking us and down stairs to get to their walk up apartment.
Your tenant buys a car, yet the apartment they are renting does not have parking.
Your tenants buy a second car, and ask for a second parking spot, that is unfortunately not available.
Your tenants complain about the cost of utilities in the unit they are renting from you.
Your tenant complains continuously about the condition of the apartment they are renting from you?
Your tenant asks for updates to the apartment they are renting, and you tell them you are unable to afford any renovations at this time.
Your tenant asks you if you have any larger / smaller units available.
Your tenant asks you if you have units available in a different area.
Your tenant tells you about a new job they accepted in another area.
Your tenants have a family status change, such as having a child and they are living in a small apartment.
Your tenant asks you what is required as a downpayment to purchase a house.
Your tenant asks you to address a noise complaint, and you decide you do not want to get confrontational with the other tenant, so you do not take action.
You are slow to repair maintenance issues, and your tenant needs to call you several times to have a problem fixed.
Those are likely not all the signs, but I feel I touched on most of them.