Tenant screening is critical because it provides you with the opportunity to get to know the person you are placing in your property. You’re looking for a tenant who will pay rent on time and take care of your home. You’re also looking for a renter who will faithfully follow the terms of your lease. Check rental references during your background investigation. Ask current and former landlords if the tenant you’re considering ever violated their lease. Even good tenants make mistakes, so when you do suspect or confirm that a lease violation has occurred, be sure you have a process in place to manage the problem and the tenant.
Check Your Lease Agreement
You cannot accuse a tenant of breaking the lease if you aren’t sure what your lease contains. Make sure you know what’s required and what the lease states is acceptable and expected in certain circumstances. If you don’t have a strong lease in place, you’ll have a hard time holding your tenants accountable to the rental agreement. The lease you and your tenant sign should be detailed and consistent with the way you do business. Before you confront or approach your tenant with any concerns, double-check your lease.
Document the Lease Violation
Documentation is a critical part of property management, and it’s important to gather evidence of a tenant’s lease violation. It might be something you notice during a property inspection, or you might have a vendor or contractor report something that was seen while repairs were being made. Perhaps a neighbor reported hearing a dog bark when your lease did not allow for pets. Take pictures, make notes, and gather statements. You’ll need the documentation if your tenant disputes that there’s a lease violation. If you have to take this as far as an eviction, you’ll need proof of the lease violation when you go to court.
Provide a Consistent Response
Once you have confirmed that the tenant has violated the lease and you have the documentation you need, address the situation with your renter. We recommend you send a letter so you have something in writing that provides further documentation. Make sure your process is consistent. You cannot hold one tenant accountable for a lease violation but not another tenant. This could put you in danger of violating fair housing laws.
Send a letter to the tenants and let them know you will be visiting the home for a maintenance or annual inspection. Schedule a date and a time and let the tenants know they can be there if they choose to be. Usually, the lease violation will be taken care of before you inspect the home. If it isn’t, you’ll need to address the problem directly with the tenant and provide a timeline for when you expect the situation to be rectified.
Handling lease violations can be a challenge, especially if you don’t enjoy being confrontational. We can help. Contact us at RP Management, Inc., and we’d be happy to help you with all of your Minneapolis property management needs.