Landlord Tenant Relationship – “Hard-Nosed” Landlording: Keep Your Tenants In Line

Landlord Tenant RelationshipsLandlord tenant relationship can be difficult or easy – it’s totally up to you, the landlord.  One way to make it easy on yourself is to set expectations up front.  As I had mentioned in one of my comments, I manage my own single family homes and condos within a 400 mile radius.  Yes, you heard it right – a 400 mile radius!  That’s because I manage my own properties as far east as Phoenix, and I live in Orange County (SoCal).

So what does the “hard-nosed” landlording involve (I hope my tenants don’t read this)?

  • First, I thoroughly screen the prospective renters’ applications and call them on any discrepancies, so they know right up front there’s no messing around.   I will explain how to screen tenant applications in a separate blog, but if there’s even one little discrepancy, I will grill the prospective renters until I am satisfied that the item in question has been explained to my satisfaction.
  • Second, I give the renters a small monthly discount on their rents, as stated in the lease, in exchange for mailing or depositing the rents before the 1st of each month, and for taking care of minor maintenance issues. The tenants first obtain my permission, then purchase what’s needed and perform the repairs.   The receipt is mailed to me, and the amount renters spent is taken out of the rent.  I don’t allow the tenants do any major work on the property – we don’t want to cross into the employer/employee territory, especially if the tenants get hurt on the property while doing repairs.   However, I do tell them up front that if they do NOT report major maintenance problems as soon as they discover them -I will hold the tenants responsible for any damage caused to the property.
  • Third, late fees start accruing on the 2nd of each month, and the eviction paperwork (3-day Notice to Pay Rent or Vacate) is served on the 3rd.   After someone is served once, I usually start receiving direct deposits and/or the rent checks early.

As a side note, the monthly rent discount has to be paid back the month the tenants are either late with their rents, or call me for silly maintenance issues.   And did I mention you can always bump the rents up a little, before offering a discount?

By the way, I read somewhere that having the “minor maintenance repair” clause in the contract makes my tenants “employees” of the property owner by default.   I took the wording out of the lease, but I still mention it verbally.   Does anyone know if that’s an issue?

P.S.  If anyone wants a copy of my lease, or the application, please let me know and I will e-mail it to you.  Stay tuned for the next blog, on how to screen the prospective tenants and preserve your landlord-tenant relationship.

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5 Responses to “Landlord Tenant Relationship – “Hard-Nosed” Landlording: Keep Your Tenants In Line”

  1. Bob Wilkinson Says:

    Very nice Blog Angella!

    One can never be too careful on the Tenant Screening. There are tenants who I call “Professional Renters” who will give you false information on the rental application. Believe it or not there are tenants who inform themselves on techniques on how to get free rent for 6 to 9 months. Their skills are so honed at scamming Landlords I would venture a bet that they attended a seminar on “How to live Rent Free”.

    Oh, and having a very precise lease agreement always provides the best legal protection for the Landlord. Leniency & flexibility should only be given verbally and sparingly. Being hard nosed is simply good business. We are not running Charities in the investment business. When a tenant treats your property right, which is entrusted to them for use, one can always be charitable on the back end.

  2. Angella Says:

    Here’s an example of a “Professional Renter”, as Bob mentioned above:
    A friend of mine rented his house to a well-spoken gentleman, who showed up in a suit. My friend didn’t run the background check as he should’ve, collected the 1st, last, and deposit, and let the guy move in. The following month the tenant couldn’t pay the rent, but said he’d upgrade the landscaping on the house in exchange for the rent, since he owned a landscaping business. He ended up delivering 10 Queen Palms to the property, so my friend thought he was at least getting some kind of a service in exchange, and postponed filing the eviction. In the end, this tenant ended up dragging the eviction out for 9 months, and turned out to be a professional scammer.

    Had my friend done his due diligence up-front and pulled the tenant’s credit report, he would have known that from the start. My friend’s only consolation, after 9 months of court and eviction fees, was that he at least ended up with 10 potted palm trees. Well, until he had to pay someone to move those palm trees to his personal residence and plant them, which cost him even more money.

    P.S. Food for thought – How well do you think this tenant was taking care of the property, while he was dragging out the eviction?

  3. Heidi Says:

    I have a question for you. I am a renter and I am responsible for paying the HOA fees. I am also required, per lease, to maintain the landscaping. I was just informed by the HOA that the very tall queen palm in the front yard must be trimmed or there will be a fine. I let my landlord know because the trimming of this tree must be done professionally and costs about $50. My landlord informed me that because I am responsible for the maintenance of the yard I have to pay to have it done. And if I don’t I will have to pay the fines from the HOA. He never mentioned this when I moved in 8 months ago. I also specifically remember that it looked as though it needed trimming when we moved in. I feel like this type of maintenance should be the responsibility of the Landlord. Am I wrong?

  4. wayne denn Says:

    would love to get a copy of your lease

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