In a perfect world, tenants would always follow the terms of your lease.
Unfortunately, our world is rather imperfect, and you should expect that some tenants will breach your lease agreement.
The most effective way to deal with breach of contract is early preparation and detection. Here are the most common breach of contract scenarios you might experience, along with tips for dealing with them effectively.
If your lease agreement says no pets allowed it’s your right to enforce it — but it can be a touchy subject to address. Most people think of pets as members of the family and tenants probably won’t respond kindly if questioned about them. Even when they’re in the wrong.
Before you confront a tenant, you should have solid evidence a pet lives in the property. Ideally, your proof should be photos, because they’re indisputable.
Once you’ve got proof in hand, reach out to the resident and give them a choice of options to become lease compliant. For example, you may decide to charge a $500 fee for the unauthorized pet, with an additional fee each day until the pet is removed from the property.
However, if you don’t mind accommodating a pet, charging a pet deposit is a good compromise. Ask the tenant to turn in information about the pet’s weight, breed and vet records for your approval.
Damage to the Property
If you suspect tenant damage or negligence, you (or your property manager) should immediately perform an inspection to address it. Early discovery of home damage can save you money and future headaches if the problem persists.
Once you identify damage, see if insurance will cover it. If they won’t, it’s time to call your contractor to get a bid for repair.
Although hindsight is 20-20, doing business with tenants who don’t respect your property can be avoided with thorough screening. Think about whether you made the right choice when selecting a tenant for your property, and consider how you can improve your screening process in the future.
Lease Break or Early Move Out
Unfortunately, tenants will occasionally move out early for personal reasons. It just comes with the territory.
When it happens to you, send out an early termination letter to inform tenants of their lease break terms and fees. Charges may include utilities until a new tenant moves in, plus other financial responsibilities like payment of rent until someone takes over the lease.
Depending on your lease agreement, tenants may be required to pay up to 200% of the rent as a lease break penalty. No matter what your terms, you should send out the termination letter quickly to ensure you’re both on the same page regarding what they owe for leaving early.
There’s no doubt lease breaches are difficult situations, but developing strategies for each scenario keeps you one step ahead of tenants who don’t follow the rules.
Not sure how to get started dealing with a rental property agreement breach? Give us a call!
Featured image by Nick Turner via StockSnap.io.