A property investor has many details to manage when owning and operating rental properties. One of the most critical details is lease enforcement.
A lease is a legally binding contract between the property owner and the renter. Following the lease protects you and your property, and it assures your renters that you are a quality property owner. With these expert Columbia, Maryland property management tips, make lease enforcement a priority to protect your rental properties and minimize income loss!
The Five Essential Elements of a Rental Agreement
What should your lease agreement include? A lease agreement is enforceable if it has five essential elements:
- The legal names of the renter and property owner or their agent
- A description of the rental unit to be leased, such as its precise location and amenities
- The term or period of time the agreement is in effect
- When the resident must pay rent and the amount
- The signatures of both parties
While most rental agreements include more details than these five things, make sure you have at least these elements to enforce a valid lease. It should also address the security deposit and other critical aspects of living in the rental. If you're not sure how to customize a free lease template so that it includes everything you need to comply with the law and protect your rental, work with a Columbia property management company to make sure you get this critical document right.
Be An Example
If you want the best out of your renters, make sure you follow your own leases for each rental unit. The agreement sets guidelines for renters to follow and outlines your responsibilities as the property owner, including maintaining safe, livable rental homes. If you don't follow your own rules, your renters won't feel the need to follow the rules either.
By setting a good example, you demonstrate what it means to follow the rules. You'll also be more effective when enforcing the rules with residents. If you have multiple properties, it's even more important to follow your rental agreement to avoid discrimination or showing favoritism toward any renters. Consistent lease enforcement across all properties and with all residents helps investors avoid lawsuits!
Enforcing a Rental Agreement in Columbia
What are some common issues that violate the lease? At a minimum, property owners should hold renters accountable for:
- A renter who does not pay rent on time (with applicable late fees assessed for past-due rent)
- Following rental unit maintenance rules, like taking out the trash, keeping the rental clean, and caring for the lawn and landscaping
- Not damaging the property
- Reporting maintenance issues right away
- Not allowing extra people to live in the rental without permission
- Unauthorized pets or violating pet policies
When a rental unit owner recognizes any of these issues, it's critical to address them with renters right away. The longer a property goes with an overgrown lawn, trash piled-up, or residents that aren't on the lease, the more "at-risk" your property and income become.
Make Sure the Lease Explains the Consequences
While the lease must detail the rules, it should also explain what happens when renters violate the rental agreement. A signed lease must be legally binding according to landlord-tenant laws, and the legal consequences for violating its terms need to be clear. For instance, a lease should spell out what happens if a resident has a pet that is not allowed or smokes in a non-smoking rental property.
Without penalties documented in the lease, property owners don't have recourse to enforce the rules. Applying a penalty that doesn't follow the rental agreement (or the law) can lead to a lawsuit from your renters—even they continue breaking the rules.
Dealing With Difficult Renters
In some circumstances, a property owner does everything possible to stay on friendly terms—even while enforcing the lease— but the renter is troublesome anyway. Sometimes, the renter has valid concerns that a good property investor needs to address. Other times, renters intentionally violate the lease and don't correct the issue despite a rental owner's attempts to enforce penalties per the agreement.
In this situation, it's best to remain calm and communicate as quickly and politely as possible. Point violators to the lease and document your attempts to get renters to comply according to the document. If residents continue violating the rules or not paying the rent, reach out to property managers in Columbia, MD, to step in.
The right property manager provides a "buffer" between property owners and difficult residents. They have the resources and experience to handle problem residents while protecting your investments and income.
A Property Management Company Enforces the Lease
Dealing with bad rental unit residents and lease violations isn't an enjoyable part of owning investment properties in Columbia. If you are unsure of the ins and outs of enforcing a lease and want some help, partner with a property management company to handle renters and leases for you!
Renters Warehouse BW Metro can ease the burden of dealing with renters who don't pay rent and commit other lease violations. We understand the law and help investors protect their properties with clear, customized leases and appropriate enforcement. If you're struggling to get residents to follow the rules, let's talk about how we can help!
Learn more about how to protect your properties. Get our free ebook, "Protecting Your Investment Property: A Guide."