Finding a qualified tenant to occupy your Anne Arundel County home becomes significantly easier when you allow roommates to enter into a lease agreement together. Widening the pool to those who wish to share your home makes living in your home more affordable because of the dual (or even triple) incomes.
However, allowing roommates to lease your coveted and highly valuable property, especially if you own a rental home in a place such as Glen Burnie, can cause issues when it comes to lease agreements, security deposits, rental payments, and more.
Let’s take a look at some of the common problems that pop up when roommates decide to rent together and how you can ward some off these potential situations.
Common Roommate Trouble
Renting your home to best friends, people in relationships, or even those that are complete strangers may cause internal problems that ultimately you will have to deal with. Here are some issues you may run into should you decide to lease your rental property to roommates.
1. One Roommate Doesn’t Pay Rent
When roommates enter a lease agreement, rarely does the landlord become involved in how the rent will be split. All that matters is that at the designated time, rent is paid in full.
Many times roommates will experience an issue where one roommate refuses to pay their share, leaving the other roommate(s) to cover the missing amount.
Not only does this threaten your monthly rental payments that you rely on every month, it affects the other tenants that are sharing your home and have now become responsible for fulfilling the rent obligation.
2. When One Roommate Violates the Terms of the Lease Agreement
Whether it be the addition of an unapproved roommate, making too much noise during quiet hours, damaging property, or bringing in an unauthorized pet, there will be problems for all involved if one roommate begins violating lease terms.
Unfortunately for roommates, it is common that if one person violates the lease, all tenants leasing the home are found to be responsible. The landlord will then be forced to get involved and the end result may be a vacant rental property.
3. Roommates That Do Not Get Along
Sharing a space with another person will cause conflict at one point or another. However, sometimes that conflict gets so extreme one tenant feels they may need to break the lease agreement early.
It might even become a situation where the “good” roommate(s) wish to kick out the problem roommate in order to live peacefully.
In any event, evicting one tenant in a roommate lease agreement is a messy ordeal, one that must be addressed legally to avoid further complications. This is something all landlords dread and hope to avoid when leasing their properties.
4. One Roommate Leaves the Home Before the Term Ends
Oftentimes roommates live together for financial reasons. This is common in places such as Annapolis. With a growing population and a high demand for rental properties, decent homes can come with a high rental price tag. By halving the rent and all utilities, and hopefully even the groceries, daily living expenses become much more manageable.
Sadly, sometimes a situation will arise where one roommate simply leaves the rental home refusing to fulfill the rental obligations agreed to at the lease signing. This leaves the other roommate(s) in a bind if they cannot cover the entire monthly rent.
Though Maryland does have a potential solution for recovering rent owed by a roommate that broke a lease agreement early, this legal process can be lengthy and may prove fruitless in the end. However, when rent is due, it is due. Landlords have the right to collect the entire rent from only one roommate regardless of the other’s actions and can swiftly start the eviction process if rent is not paid.
Preventing Roommate Trouble in Your Income Property
Experiencing some of the above scenarios would cause any landlord to reel. Often relying on rental payments as a primary source of income, having any type of issue in a rental home is unwelcome.
Luckily, there are some things landlords can do at the time of the lease signing to avoid some of these things from ever becoming an issue.
1. Make All Roommates ‘Joint and Several Liable’
Your lease agreement should contain proper language making all roommates that will be living in, say your Severna Park rental home, responsible for the lease agreement provisions.
By including the terms ‘jointly and severally liable’ your tenants will be held equally responsible for all lease terms, regardless of who violates the terms.
2. Properly Screen All Tenants
Anyone over the age of 18 residing in your rental property should undergo the same screening process and should have their name included on the lease agreement. This will ensure that everyone entering the lease agreement fits your standards and provides every adult residing there some level of responsibility. This way only high quality tenants will be allowed to rent from you, hopefully weeding out problem tenants from the start.
3. Do Not Allow Subleasing
By allowing a tenant renting from you to turn around and rent to another, unapproved person, your rental property becomes vulnerable.
Do not allow this process, also known as subleasing, occur under any circumstances.
If a tenant needs replacing, only with your permission, screening processes, and a revised lease agreement making the new roommate joint and several liable should this ever be allowed to happen. This is the best way you can protect yourself and your investment.
4. Collect Only One Rent Check
As mentioned before, rarely does a landlords have any say as to how the monthly rent will be split between roommates. However, by including in your lease agreement that only one rent check will be accepted, not only does this better guarantee full payment each month, it separates you from the internal financial issues roommates sometimes experience.
5. Encourage a Roommate Agreement
Although not required, it is a good idea to suggest to roommates leasing your rental home that they draw up a roommate agreement outlining the responsibilities of every party living in the rental home.
Though residents living in Laurel or Fort Meade may feel particularly trusting of their roommates as those regions tend to have tight knit communities of people who have known each other for years, it is still in the best interest of all involved to get something in writing, just in case.
Here are some common details that may be included in a roommate agreement signed by all tenants leasing your rental home:
- Division of rent between all parties
- Utility cost splits
- Food cost splits
- Maintenance responsibilities such as cleaning, yard maintenance, or repair requests
- Overnight guest rules
- Rules regarding parties/gatherings
- Designated quiet times
- Parking designations
- The process for breaking a lease agreement
Though courts will generally disregard many provisions in a roommate agreement, those involving monetary issues will likely hold in a court of law should an issue between roommates surface. This is especially true if everyone has signed the agreement as documents like that are almost always upheld by judges.
As a landlord, you must protect yourself and your rental investment first and foremost by enforcing the lease agreement.
Luckily for you, your favorite Anne Arundel County property management team, Bay Management Group, is well versed in many of the things discussed above for preventing roommate issues in your rental home.
With qualified professionals understanding how to properly and thoroughly screen potential tenants, draft legally complaint lease agreements, collect full rental payments in a timely manner, and evict problem tenants once issues begin to pop up, Bay Management Group can give you that peace of mind that you and your rental investment are fully protected, even if your tenant roommates run into some trouble with each other.