We want to believe that every tenant who makes it through your screening process is going to be a model tenant. They'll take good care of the property, they'll follow the rules of the lease, and they'll pay the rent on time.
Even with the best screening in place, tenants sometimes try to bend the rules or delay the rent payment. Different tenant issues require different responses from landlords—and sometimes it's hard to know what to do to protect your property and follow the law. If you're a new landlord, it's easy to get frustrated or feel helpless.
Here's what to do in three common situations when a tenant bends the rules in your Novi rental property.
While this article is designed to offer some tips for landlords who are struggling to navigate the ins-and-outs of the landlord-tenant relationship, it should not be construed as legal advice. When in doubt, consult your legal counsel!
1. "The Check Is in the Mail."
The first of the month has come and gone—yet you don't have the rent payment from your tenant. If it happens one time, it could be a legitimate oversight from your tenant; accidents happen. However, if it happens month after month, you're no longer dealing with forgetfulness—you're dealing with a pattern of negligence.
How to Take Action
- Reach out to your tenant by direct communication. Whether your first contact is by phone, text, or email, make sure it's clear that the rent is late and your tenant needs to pay—immediately.
- If the tenant still fails to pay the rent, move forward with a "pay or quit" notice. This alerts the tenant that without payment of the rent, they'll need to leave the property. Be sure the total amount due includes any late fees as outlined in the lease they signed at move-in.
- Consult a lawyer before proceeding with eviction. You have other options before you begin eviction procedures. Work with your legal counsel to make sure you proceed within the law.
The best way to help tenants pay the rent on time every month is to use an online payment system. Plus, an online payment system helps you track down late payments without taking up your valuable time.
2. "That's Not a Dog!"
If it looks like a dog, and it barks like a dog, it's probably a dog. When you don't allow pets in your property, a dog living in the home is a violation of the lease agreement.
Sometimes tenants feel like asking for forgiveness after they get a pet is better than asking for permission beforehand. However, if a pet arrives in your rental property without approval, you have options.
How to Take Action
- Retroactively apply a pet-screening process. If you have tenants who are otherwise excellent people to have in your property, and you're open to adjusting your pet policy for them, follow a pet-screening process. The tenant must provide information about:
- Where they got the pet
- Vet information
- Immunization records
- Any known issues regarding aggressive behavior.
- Add a pet addendum to the lease agreement, and collect a pet deposit to cover any damages caused by the pet.
- If the tenants aren't willing to provide that information and pay a pet deposit, or you don't want to allow pets in your property, they need to remove the pet from the property. They can choose to keep the pet, but they must find a new place to live and terminate the lease.
Allowing pets in your Novi rental property can be a benefit, but tenants need to follow the rules if pets aren't allowed on the premises.
3. "It Was like That When I Moved In!"
During a routine property inspection, you notice a hole in the wall. Your tenant says it was there when they moved in—but you know that's not the case.
Protect yourself from "mysterious" damage that appears as if from nowhere:
- Perform a move-in inspection with each new tenant. Document the condition of the property and make sure the tenant signs off on it, too.
- Keep up with seasonal property inspections. Regular inspections help you keep up with the condition of your home throughout the year.
- Hold your tenant responsible for paying for damage that doesn't qualify as accidental (the water heater breaks) or as normal wear-and-tear.
Even if your tenant renews year after year, it's critical to keep regular eyes on your rental property. Tenants can forget to let you know when something needs repair. Be sure your tenant knows you're keeping an eye on your property, too.
Your Property Manager Keeps Tenants on Track
There's no need to deal with these issues on your own! The JMZ Management team has dealt with these tenant issues and many more. We know how to work with Novi tenants to correct lease violations. We'll also handle tenants who need to leave a property for failure to pay rent or other ongoing problems.
If you feel like a tenant needs to leave your property, consult our FREE Tenant Eviction Checklist to get started!