Why You Need To Stand Firm On Your Rental Policies

As a landlord you can’t control everything with your rental property. There are times when you think you have the perfect tenant only to find they are breaking the rules of your lease.  How you respond when you hear the news directly reflects the success of your property.  If you turn your head and continue to let things happen you run the risk of making the problem much worse.  You need to strike a balance between being firm without overreacting.  Rental policies vary based on the individual, the property and even the location.  Whatever your policies are they are in place for a reason.  Here are five examples of policies you need to stand firm on.

  • Number Of Tenants On The Lease.  When the end of a lease approaches and you are facing a vacancy it is tempting to make poor decisions. One of the areas that you need to stand firm on is with the number of people on the lease. Renting to a large group of people may solve an immediate need but it can open to door for much bigger issues down the road. As a general rule of thumb the number of tenants should be based on the number of bedrooms. If you have three bedrooms the typical max number of tenants is four. Even if you have basement space or an office that can be converted you need to stand firm. For starters this can be a major safety violation. If your property is packed with people it can be difficult to get everyone out in the event of a fire. Another issue is that eventually parking becomes a problem. Cars will either begin to invade neighboring parking areas or start to park on your yard. Keep your maximum number of tenants and don’t let a vacancy tempt you otherwise.
  • Smoking.  Every prospective tenant should fill out a rental application. On this application you should have a section asking them whether they smoke or not. How they answer should not exclude them from renting but you need to make your stance clear. If you have a firm no smoking policy you need to state the consequences. Excessive smoke in a property is very difficult to get rid of. It stays on the floors, the furniture and if heavy enough even the walls. Many prospective tenants are allergic to smoke or simply wouldn’t consider a property that smells like smoke. Having a tenant smoke in your property doesn’t only cause damage in the short term but could make it difficult to find tenants well after they leave. If you decide to rent to a smoker you need to let them know there will be periodic visits. You will give them as little as 24 hours’ notice. You will look for any cigarette butts around the property and try to detect smoke on the interior. Heavy cigarette smoke is not easily masked with sprays or candles. If you detect smoke you need to make it clear they you have the authority to evict immediately.
  • Pets. You can be a pet lover and still be against having them in your property. While pets can serve a number of great purposes inside a rental property they can also cause plenty of damage. The first concern is what they can do to the flooring. Regardless if you have hard wood floors or carpets a pet can be a problem. The second concern is with what they do to the furniture. A dog or cat can scratch the couches and less the overall appearance of your rental. The last item that can be problematic is with the scent they leave behind. There is a certain smell that is picked up in a property with pets. Not everyone is an animal lover and a large segment of people can get turned off by the smell. Although it can be difficult to sneak in a pet if you find one in the property you need to take action.
  • Parking. On any shared rental property or property with limited space parking rules are essential. Without firm rules in place you run the risk of battling through constant tenant disagreements. You also run the risk of having one tenant feel you are favoring one over the other. If you have assigned driveway parking spots you need to enforce them. If the problem persists you need to take action. Instead of having one upset tenant every tenant you have may want out. Don’t jeopardize a good tenant by giving into to one that is a constant problem.
  • Noise/Complaints. In most cases your tenants will follow the rules and respect your property. Depending on your area you may rent to college aged students. These tenants are much more likely to party and make noise in the property. By itself this isn’t that big of a deal but you have neighbors to consider. On almost every lease there is language that says you can evict if you receive excessive complaints. You don’t need to overreact from your first call but you don’t want to have the neighbors or police calling you every weekend. You need to make it clear that excessive noise and complaints will not be tolerated. You can give them one free pass but if the is a second call to the house you need to let your tenants know that eviction can be started.

If you allow your tenants to walk over you they probably will. As a landlord you always want to pick and choose your battles but you need to stand firm on your rental policies.