A good tenant pays rent on time, respects your property, and is as diligent about its upkeep as you would be. While you may have a good tenant for the time being, it can be all too easy to assume each tenant will show the same amount of care for your property and your bottom line. However, landlords are often quickly reminded of the pitfalls of difficult tenants once a new one moves in and things begin to go awry.
One way to address the issue of difficult tenants in your rental property in Howard County Maryland is to develop a vetting process to ensure every person you allow to rent your property treats it with as much respect as you would. While it is important to watch for red flags, such as a history of late payments, evictions, and litigation, even the best vetting practices don’t guarantee you a good tenant.
Difficult tenants can produce any number of issues for both landlord and property, including:
- Neglecting repairs on your rental property until costly damages ensue
- Actively damaging your property
- Missing frequent rent payments, endangering your finances
- Leaving the property altogether mid-lease, without paying past due rent
- Leaving the property in a mess after move-out
- Threatening frivolous lawsuits against the landlord
Once a problematic tenant has signed a lease and is living in your Howard County rental property, what can you do?
Dealing with Difficult Tenants
When it comes to your rights regarding your Howard County rental property, how to deal with a difficult tenant, and the other options available to you, it all depends on the behavior you’re experiencing. Read on for a list of common behaviors of difficult tenants, and how you can address them:
Renters Damage Your Property
If you’ve done your due diligence and performed a detailed move-in inspection complete with photos, you can easily determine that the tenants caused any damages incurred after move-in. Performing quarterly inspections will help you keep track of damages as they happen and can give you the opportunity to address them with the tenant before the situation gets out of hand. Performing detailed move-out inspections with a full list of damages and photographs allows you to point out specific expenses that should be shouldered by the tenant along the way.
If you become aware of damages during the lease period, make sure to photograph and document your findings, even if they are minor and you wish to request the tenants repair them on their own. With more serious damages, you can get a professional estimate for the cost of the repairs and keep track of the invoices that accrue so you can send the tenant the bill when the work is finished. You can then arrange a payment schedule or for the repairs to be taken out of the security deposit.
Tenants Fail to Pay Rent
Before renting your property, make sure to outline what constitutes a late payment in your rental agreement. If you’ve established that the 1st of the month must postmark a check, for example, make your tenants aware of this rule. In general, avoid making special considerations for individual cases – the relationship between a landlord and tenant is a business relationship, and it is essential to follow the rules and regulations you set forth.
You can remind your tenants the day before rent is due, as well as the day after. In Howard County, you can begin assessing late fees of up to 5% on the 5th of the month. If your tenant is consistently late, assess the same fee, the same way, each time so your tenants know what to expect.
By the 6th day of the month, Howard County allows the eviction process to begin. If you wait until the 6th, you can include late fees, as well. You can only evict Maryland tenants for failure to pay rent, failure to move out after the term of the lease, and gross violation of the lease terms. Ensure all communication with the tenant is in writing, so you have proper documentation to use in the event the eviction process proceeds.
Tenant Abandons the Property
If your tenant abandons the property, you have the responsibility to follow the proper procedures under Howard County law. Upon the first lapse in communication, notify the tenant in writing that you intend to perform an inspection. If the property is abandoned, you must send another notice that you intend to change the locks. Do so, documenting the state of the property, and perform another inspection in two weeks.
If the property is still abandoned with no communication from the tenant, you may begin the process of turning the property over for a new tenant. However, if the former tenant has abandoned property inside the home, follow all the proper eviction procedures to protect yourself. Gather evidence of the abandonment, document the entire process for future use, and report the eviction to credit bureaus.
Frivolous Lawsuit Threats
Regardless of the frivolous lawsuits your tenants threaten you with, your first step should be to familiarize yourself with the lease, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and Fair Housing Laws. Frivolous lawsuits are a nuisance, but if you’re handling all the legalities according to proper procedure, a nuisance is all they’ll be.
If you’re dealing with a difficult tenant in your Howard County, Maryland rental property, make sure all your interactions with your tenants are professional, calm, and positive. If this proves to be an issue with a particularly difficult tenant, direct all future communications to email only, to preserve all communication in digital form.
Hire a Property Management Company
Ensuring proper procedures are in place to vet tenants can help prevent problem tenants before they ever move in. But it can be a timely process getting all of these in place. By hiring a property management company like Bay Property Management Group, they can ensure procedures for addressing damages, late payments, and other common tenant issues are clearly outlined and easily accessible to both tenant and landlord. They can also help you to know the laws of both the state of Maryland and Howard County, and ensure you’re following them at all times. That way, if something does go wrong, you have your procedures and the law to back you. Are you ready to talk to a property manager? Contact the Howard County Bay Property Management Group team today to get started!