It is not unusual for conflicts to occur between a landlord and their tenants. In fact, this happens so frequently that there are several common disputes most landlords have found themselves dealing with time and again. Here three of the most common:
Violations of City Ordinances or Codes
The list of violations typically includes things like parking violations, noise ordinance violations, occupancy limit violations, and problems with trash. No matter the violation, chances are good that you as the landlord are the one who is most likely to have an encounter with your local Code Enforcement agent from a single neighbor’s complaint. When it’s all over, you as the landlord are likely to be the one who ends up paying any fines assessed.
Add this to the problem; your tenant has the right to call the Code Enforcement Agency and complain about anything they feel is not up to code. In many cases, you will be left without the ability to rectify the problem, something any prosecutor worth their salt is going to ask for. When this happens, your only option may be to pursue an eviction so that you can make the required upgrades once the unit is empty.
Physical Damage to Your Property
It is not surprising for a landlord to find physical damage such as stained or damaged floor coverings, holes in walls, broken appliances, and numerous other forms of physical damage to a freshly vacated property. In most cases, the tenant’s deposit is not enough to cover the cost of repairs or replacement. Many tenants make the statement that this was the condition of the unit when they moved in and refuse to pay the costs, leaving you with the option of suing for the money. One way to avoid this is to make sure you take a series of baseline pictures before the next tenant moves in. You can then use these photos in the event you should have to go to court to recover your losses.
Non-Payment of Third-Party Billing
When you are the landlord, you may be legally responsible for any third-party billing for things like improvements, pool cleaning, trash hauling services, septic tank emptying, water bills, repair services, and so forth should your tenant refuse to pay them or bail out on you without paying for them. The problem with this is that in most courts you are only likely to be able to recover anything considered to be rent or “additional” rent.
Any other missed payments will require you to go to a much higher court in order to recover your losses. Be sure you review your lease carefully and provide your tenant with a detailed listing of the costs you are trying to recover and send it to the tenant via registered mail – signature required. This may spur the tenant to pay the bills rather than facing the judge and being ordered to.
The safest thing you can do as a landlord is to work with a lawyer to draw up an “ironclad” lease that includes things like responsibility for paying bills, including all third-party bills the tenant created. Your lease should also include any and all procedures you will follow in order to recover your costs. Tenants are becoming well-educated in how to avoid paying bills like these amongst others. By following the conventional procedures and making sure you have all the “I’s” dotted and the “Ts” crossed your chances of coming out the winner are far better.