When you are renting an apartment, so many things can contribute to a bad overall experience. A big one is poor or mismanagement. This can be in the form of landlord negligence or a bad property management company, but both add stress to the rental relationship. Below we will take a look at tips for dealing with difficult landlords and how to report bad landlords when issues arise.
How to Prevent Tension With Landlords Before it is Too Late?
Once locked into a lease, dealing with a difficult landlord can go from bad to horrible fast. Below are some ideas on preventing issues from popping up and how you can protect your interests as a tenant.
- Thoroughly Read Your Lease Before Signing: Leases are legally binding contracts. That said, you must read and understand the terms before signing. Additionally, feel free to ask questions or obtain additional clarification on anything you do not understand. Violating any of the terms and restrictions outlined in the lease can easily lead to issues with your landlord.
- Know Your Rights: Take some time to research local ordinances and landlord/tenant laws. Some landlords will unknowingly, or even knowingly, try to include provisions within the lease that are not legal. So, having some idea of what should and should not be included may prove invaluable.
- Pay Your Rent in Full and On Time: Delinquent payments not only cause you additional fees, but they can also quickly raise tensions with your landlord. If your property offers an online tenant portal, payments should be very convenient. If not, consider setting up automatic payments through your banking institution, so you never get busy and forget.
- Keep Detailed Records: Don’t rely on your landlord to properly document the condition of the home, since you are the one held responsible if there is excessive damage beyond wear and tear. So, along with a move-in checklist to document any existing issues, take lots of photos before both you and the landlord sign it. Additionally, keep notes and details on any meaningful phone conversations you have and do not delete any email exchanges.
Other Actions to Prevent Tension from Forming
- Make Requests in Writing: If you are lucky enough to have an online tenant and maintenance portal, utilize that to submit any repair requests. If that is not available to you, make requests in writing via email or text. Save copies or screenshots of these messages with a timestamp in case any disputes arise.
- Keep Communications Respectful: Stress can cause even the nicest people to get heated. That said, do not lose it with your landlord as it will only make the situation worse. Whether you are addressing payment concerns or a maintenance issue, treat the communication as you would any formal working relationship.
- Work Towards Mutually Beneficial Solutions: Compromise is a crucial factor in any type of successful relationship. Think long-term, if you enjoy living in the home, maintaining a good tenant/landlord relationship is beneficial. Communicate with your landlord or property manager effectively and respectfully and hear them out. Even if you feel slighted, there may be a simple explanation that can be easily corrected.
When Should I Report Landlord Negligence?
Landlords are tasked with maintaining a rental property in a habitable condition. In other words, the rental home must be free of any health or safety issues. If you have reported concerns and your landlord fails to act, you may need to report them to local agencies. Continue reading as we discuss various reasons to report bad landlords.
- Pests: A tenant should report any evidence of a mouse, rat, roach, bed bug, or other pest infestation in their home to their landlord. Carefully read your lease to determine who is liable for pest infestations. If it is the landlord’s responsibility, and they fail to act, further action may be needed on your part.
- Mold: Mold in your rental home can be dangerous. Know the warning signs of mold growth and alert your landlord immediately. If they fail to conduct an inspection, you may need to take further action.
- Lead: Lead paint, like mold, can be dangerous to a person’s health, especially children. If your landlord does not address chipping or peeling paint, this could become a housing code violation.
- Lack of Vital Services: Lack of things such as running water, electricity, or heat constitutes an emergency maintenance call. Tenants may report bad landlords if these issues are not addressed promptly.
- Broken Plumbing Fixtures: Tenants have the right to working plumbing. All repair requests should be in writing, and if the landlord fails to complete repairs, restoring functionality, tenants have the right to report them.
- Structural Issues: Structure issues can be a real safety concern. For example, if a roof leak causes a ceiling to collapse, and the landlord fails to take action, the tenant can contact the Health Department.
How to Go About Reporting Bad Landlords and Negligence?
While you make think all repairs should get immediate attention, that is not always the case. For non-emergency repairs, the landlord must still take action promptly. If you feel the landlord is or has neglected emergency repairs, there is a process to follow for reporting them. See the steps below you will need to know to report bad landlords to local authorities such as the Health Department.
- Send a Notice: In almost any case, you must send a written notice to the landlord or property manager describing the issue. Once sent, tenants must give the landlord the time and opportunity to address the problem. Typically, the timeframe can be up to 45 days, but check your local jurisdiction before proceeding. Both the written notice and repair timeframe is required before filing any complaint with the Health Department.
- File a Complaint: If the landlord has failed to respond or take any action to current the issues, proceed with filing your complaint. Local authority websites will have any requirements to include when you report bad landlords.
What Happens After I Report Bad Landlords?
After the complaint is filed, the Heath Department steps in to investigate the situation. Below is a list of the necessary steps local authorities will take against a landlord or property manager.
- Inspect the Property:
Health Department officials will be sent out to inspect the property. They will investigate the tenant’s complaint and determine what, if any, actual health violation exists. Additionally, the inspector looks for any additional issues the tenant may not have noted.
- Prepare Their Findings: The inspector will compile the evidence they collected into a report. This will include the property address and any violations they found along with a timeframe the landlord has for repairs.
- Violation Report Sent to the Landlord: If any violations are found during the inspection, the official will send a copy of his or her inspection report to the landlord.
- Give Landlord Time to Fix Issue: Per the notice received, the landlord has a certain number of days to fix any outstanding issues. Once the landlord has fixed the health violations, an inspector needs to come back out to re-inspect the property.
- Re-Inspect Property and Issue a Letter of Compliance: If the inspector comes back and verifies that the health violations have been corrected, a letter of compliance will be issued.
- Impose Fines on the Landlord: If the landlord has not fixed the violations, or has failed to do so within the time constraints, the health department can fine the landlord.
Are There Exceptions You Need to Be Aware Of?
Yes! Landlords are responsible for maintaining a safe and habitable property. However, they are not responsible for health and safety issues caused by the tenant’s abuse, neglect, or dirty living conditions inside the unit. Tenants have a responsibility to maintain their rental home to comply with all eligible health and safety codes. So, before you report a bad landlord, make sure you have fulfilled all of your obligations.
Are You a Bad Landlord? Know the Signs!
Nobody is perfect, but it is easy to fall into complacency as a landlord. However, your property upkeep and tenant retention directly correlate to your financial outcome. It not only pays to be friendly, but it also pays to be involved. Check out these five characteristics of a bad landlord below.
Top 5 Characteristics of a Bad Landlord
- You Don’t Have Written Leases: A lease is a binding contract between you and residents at your property. It serves to outline policies, responsibilities, and repercussions. Not having an enforceable lease is a recipe for disaster. Without it, you open yourself up to misunderstandings and disputes.
- You Don’t Complete Regular Inspections: A standard practice of move-in, move-out, and regular inspections is essential. Not only can you address potential repairs, but it will also aid in disputes over deposits and tenant damage.
- Your Go-To Phrase is “It’s Only A Rental”: Not only is this “rental” your costly investment, but it is also the place someone calls “home.” So, if you don’t view it as a home, you may accept sub-standard work and be setting yourself up for trouble. Your investment will also cost you more, in the long run, thanks to high turnover and continued repairs.
- You Ignore Your Tenants Needs: No one wants to be interrupted during personal time, even more so if it’s an emergency you need to act on. While it is healthy to establish boundaries with your tenants, that does not mean you can ignore them. How you handle both emergency and non-emergency situations affects your tenant’s satisfaction, and in turn, how long they stay. Even if you can not respond right away for whatever reason, get to it as soon as possible.
- You Don’t See Your Rental as a Business: Real estate is an expensive endeavor, add in tenants, and the risks pile on. Therefore, get into the mindset that your property is a business. Utilizing dedicated management and accounting software, standardized tenant screening, and implementing proper practices will be integral to your success. Opt for a more haphazard approach, and you will feel the strain.
As a tenant, it is vital to know your rights and responsibilities. When necessary, follow these steps to report bad landlords or negligence on the part of your property manager. Are you a landlord looking for a stress-free rental property management solution? Bay Property Management Group can help! Let our team of professional property managers help you manage your Maryland, Pennsylvania or DC rental property to maximize profits and take the stress out of being a landlord!