Posts Tagged ‘ Landlord Tenant ’

Accurate Credit Dealing with Problem Tenants

A landlord shared with us the difficulty she is currently experiencing with a tenant who just moved out.  Although she gave him proper notice and a cleaning checklist several weeks in advance, when she tried to hold him accountable for the poor condition of the property when he moved out, the tenant threatened to sue her.

Now, his parents have gotten into the fray, repeatedly emailing the landlord and leaving threatening phone messages.  They say they’ve hired a lawyer and will take her to court.

This landlord is not alone.  Many others have experienced concern that a tenant will find some way to “get even” with them, including calling in building inspectors, law enforcement authorities, or lawyers when the tenant doesn’t have a leg to stand on. These tenants are trying to intimidate the landlord in order to keep a security deposit, live rent-free or otherwise violate the lease agreement.

Landlords don’t have to tolerate harassment, intimidation or threats from tenants.

If a tenant threatens you with legal action, ask to speak with the attorney they claim is representing them.  Get the lawyer’s phone number and give them a call. Lawyers have an ethical obligation to follow the law, and cannot encourage a tenant to pursue a course of action that is not justified. Chances are, the attorney will speak to you more respectfully, making it easier to resolve the problem.  Ask for information from the attorney in writing.

In all likelihood, there is no attorney, and the threat is empty.

In that case, make it clear to the tenant or person harassing you that you will not tolerate any further communications unless in writing.

If the harassment continues, or if at any time you fear for your safety, the safety of others or your property, report the behavior to the police. Keep a record of all communications with the tenant and any one else acting on their behalf.

As a landlord, you hold a serious legal threat of your own –the tenant needs you to give them a reference if they are going to rent again. You can remind them of this fact, but use a non-confrontational manner.

It is not appropriate for the landlord to use idle threats, or profanity, when dealing with problem tenants. If the matter does wind up in court, the judge will look more favorably upon the landlord who remained professional and did not escalate the dispute.

Maintaining a high level of professionalism from the outset if one of the best ways to avoid aggressive tenants.  Tenants respect landlords who lay down the law:

Always require a completed Rental Application. You can download a free one at http://www.accuratecredit.com/html/freerentalapplications.html

Conduct a thorough Tenant Background check http://www.accuratecredit.com  including a credit report, a criminal background check and an eviction report to determine if this applicant has displayed inappropriate behavior in the past. You can order a comprehensive background check that includes those and more http://www.accuratecredit.com

Call the previous landlord to obtain a reference.

Provide specific rules regarding how the property will be kept during the tenancy.

Complete a Move-In Inspection Report with photos or videos of the condition of the property.

End the tenancy with a walk-through and Move-Out Inspection report, with photos or videos of the condition of the property.

Accurate Credit 10 Tips for Landlords Renting to New Tenants

  1. Not running adequate checks on a potential tenant.
    As anxious as you may be to get a tenant in and paying rent, it’s not worth rushing ahead without checking your tenant’s credentials first. Use a rental application form that will provide you with adequate information http://www.accuratecredit.com/html/freerentalapplications/html ,pay the money necessary to obtain a comprehensive background check and credit report. (to check on a history of late payments, delinquent accounts, etc.) http://www.accuratecredit.com and take the time to verify references including employers and former landlords.Even if the tenant is “desperate” to move in and can make the deposit amount immediately, check out their background first. Don’t allow yourself to feel rushed or pressured into making a potentially costly mistake.
  2. Thinking the property will always be rented.
    Before closing on a property you need to do your own financial due diligence and ensure that you can pay the mortgage (if you’re taking on a loan) in the event that you have months with no tenant paying rent. Don’t risk potential foreclosure and financial ruin because you failed to do a simple cash flow analysis and maintain sufficient funds to cover the mortgage payments when renters are few and far between.
  3. Underestimating the cost of repairs or ongoing property maintenance.
    In order to keep tenants interested in (and paying for) the property you will need to maintain it. Make sure you’re charging enough in rent to at least help cover a portion of ongoing maintenance costs (i.e. painting, cleaning and carpet cleaning between tenants). Also plan on having to pull money either out of the business or your own pocket in the event that you don’t have the cash needed to make major one-time repairs (such as repairing structural damage, replacing appliances, etc.). You might consider getting liability insurance in addition to your property insurance.
  4. Viewing it as a hobby.
    Owning rental properties is a business and in order to turn a profit you’ll need to operate it as such. That means establishing separate bank accounts for deposits and expenses, using a bookkeeping system and consulting a tax professional to ensure you are correctly handling (and paying!) taxes on your business.If you don’t set yourself up with the necessary resources and relationships you will most likely end up losing money. (Learn how fixing a few pipes can be more profitable tax-wise than adding a new roof.
  5. Relying on a handshake.
    In business you can’t rely on promises. For your own legal protection it’s essential that your tenants sign a lease agreement to reside in the property and ensure that he or she understands the terms of the contract. If you run into problems with your tenant you will need written, binding documentation (i.e. a lease) in order for the judge to make a ruling. You may downloas and alter a residential lease at http://www.accuratecredit.com/html/freerentalapplications/html
  6. Asking illegal interview questions.
    You don’t want to run the risk of giving a potential tenant sufficient grounds to sue you for discrimination by asking the wrong questions during the screening interview. The Fair Housing Act of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 requires that you cannot deny a tenant’s application based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, handicap or family status (i.e. if they plan on having children). Learn more about federal and state fair housing laws http://www.accuratecredit.com/html/faircreditreportingact.html
    Neglecting tenants.
    The home(s) you are renting out are your responsibility. If you do not regularly check in with your tenants and on the condition of the property you will have no one to blame but yourself if something goes wrong. However make sure that you are not violating your state’s laws regarding tenant privacy before stopping by the property unannounced. You may inadvertently give them the right to sue you or be released from the terms of your lease agreement.
  7. Not meeting state and local housing codes.
    As a landlord you’re required to make sure the property meets health and safety standards. If you don’t take care of your end of the legal bargain your tenants may have grounds to break the terms of your lease agreement, potentially sue you and even to be legally entitled to compensation for damage or injury due to your neglect.
  8. Delaying an eviction.
    Not beginning eviction proceedings as soon as legally possible can be a very costly mistake. If you run into problems with a tenant and are unsure about your rights or how to proceed, contact an eviction attorney as soon as possible.
  9. Not enforcing lease terms.
    If you outlined that late rent payments would incur a penalty, charge it. If you noted that no pets are allowed and your new tenant buys a Great Dane, enforce the penalty. If your tenants realize that you lax about the terms of the lease they will likely follow suit. Set – and enforce – the standard you want upheld.
  10. Not writing it down.
    It’s essential that you keep written documentation of interactions with your tenants in the event that you ever need to take him/her to court. Note phone conversations and keep copies of emails, voicemails or text messages, etc. to be able to support your allegations.

Accurate Credit Bureau Landlord Responsibility

A landlord’s responsibility to his tenants is to provide a safe, functional living space. Before a tenant moves in, it’s the landlord’s obligation to make sure that the property is up to local and federal housing code. City and county housing authorities establish strict minimum standards for electricity, paint (lead-free), lighting, ventilation and structural integrity. You may download a free rental lease to use from http://www.accuratecredit.com/html/freerentalapplications.html Many cities additionally require safety measures like dead bolts on all exterior doors, smoke alarms and fire extinguishers in each unit.

Once the tenant moves in, it’s the landlord’s responsibility to repair anything that breaks on the property, from a burned-out light bulb in the stairwell down to leaky faucets. A landlord is expected to respond to a repair request within 24 hours and fix it within a reasonable time frame. The severity of the problem usually dictates how quickly it gets fixed.

If a landlord fails to address a known problem in a timely fashion, he could get into big trouble. The worst-case scenario is that a tenant or his guest is seriously injured by an unresolved issue with the property, like a broken rail on a staircase or a missing floorboard. If the tenant can prove that the landlord knew about the damage and neglected to act with reasonable timeliness to fix it, he can sue and he’ll win. This is why landlords have to buy liability insurance.

Not all landlord-tenant arguments end in a lawsuit. But if a tenant gets frustrated with how long it takes his landlord to fix the dishwasher he has several options. In most states in the United States, he can legally withhold his rent until the repair is made. He may also have the right to arrange the repairs himself and subtract the cost from his next rent check. In some states, if things get really bad, the tenant can treat the failure to respond as a breach of contract and move out in the middle of the lease.

A landlord can protect himself by documenting exactly when he receives all notifications of a problem with the property and when he took action to resolve it. Even if the landlord can’t fix the problem right away, it’s his responsibility to let the tenant know the circumstances that are causing the delay and when it might be resolved. A good landlord will encourage his tenants to report all known problems immediately to avoid potential liability for injuries.

It’s also the landlord’s responsibility to keep his tenants safe from crime. All stairways and common areas need to be well-lighted. Main doors and gates need to remain locked at all times. If there’s an intercom system for buzzing in guests, it needs to be in working order. Exterior doors should have deadbolts and windows should have locks, particularly those that are accessible by an external fire escape.

A landlord also has to take reasonable measures to make sure that his tenants aren’t criminals. If a landlord knows that some of his tenants are dealing drugs from their apartments, for example, and doesn’t report them to the police, the landlord might be held accountable for any neighborhood crimes that can be linked to the drug-dealing operation.

What Happened When Axl Rose Rented My Apartment By Steve Fishman

Axl Rose is the best tenant ever.

Three years ago, the legendary rocker was looking for a New York apartment to rent. He thought it might be time to move from Malibu and wanted to test out New York. Axl was searching for a place without “glaring” sunlight but with lots of space, and I had both — my place is 5,300 square feet and almost entirely underground. It’s in Tribeca, which — another benefit for him — is celebrity-friendly these days: His neighbors would be James Bond (Daniel Craig) and Jon Stewart (as well as a “gentleman’s” club next door). Axl came by to see the apartment twice. Once my wife was there, and she reported that he played enthusiastically with our dog and snorted at people who like spaces “bathed in light,” as the Realtors say. He loved the place.

Of course, I was worried. Axl, after all, had a reputation for wrecking places. There is, for instance, this headline from 2008: “Guns N’ Roses’ Axl Rose one of world’s worst hotel guests.” But he was said to have reformed as he aged. By the time he inspected my apartment, he was almost 50 years old and getting the belly to prove it. He’d apparently developed a respect for property rights — those of others included.

Plus, he agreed to pay an extraordinary rent and, well, I needed the money. Just in case, he offered six months’ rent as a security deposit.

Axl was in a hurry to get into the place, we were told, and so we quickly decamped to Brooklyn. Then came move-in day. And then it went. So did a second and a third date. Still Axl didn’t move in. (This pattern may be familiar to fans who waited for the Guns ‘n’ Roses album Chinese Democracy.)

My family and I followed Axl’s travels via Google alerts — he was touring in Abu Dhabi and playing a birthday party in Russia. We were repeatedly told by his very nice assistants, a mother and son team, that he was definitely planning a move to New York, which we were informed he’d fallen in love with. (He might even want to buy our place.) This attachment was good news, since as the one-year mark approached, it was time to renew his lease. He still hadn’t set foot in the apartment. We learned that he had been to New York, though, renting a roomy suite at a fancy hotel with a balcony and, well, lots of light. Still, he renewed — this time at an increased rent.

As far as I can tell, Axl never set foot in my place after his initial viewings. I wondered if he remembered that he’d rented it. Maybe a superstar lives this way — renting apartments just in case, and then forgetting about them. Still, the rent checks kept coming, which is all I cared about. When it came time to renew for a third year, negotiations began, but then rationality — his management’s — prevailed. Axl’s ghost rental ended in the beginning of 2013, at the two-year mark.

People have mixed views of Axl Rose, but as a landlord, I loved him. If he ever needs a recommendation, I’ll happily write: Quiet, undemanding, and pays his rent.

Accurate Credit Landlord Tenant Eviction Law

A landlord can’t begin an eviction lawsuit without first legally terminating the tenancy. This means giving the tenant written notice, as specified in the state’s termination statute. If the tenant doesn’t move (or reform — for example, by paying the rent or finding a new home for the dog), you can then file a lawsuit to evict. (Technically, this is called an unlawful detainer, or UD, lawsuit.)

State laws set out very detailed requirements to end a tenancy. Different types of termination notices are required for different types of situations, and each state has its own procedures as to how termination notices and eviction papers must be written and delivered (“served”).

Although terminology varies somewhat from state to state, there are basically three types of termination notices for tenancies that landlords terminate due to tenant misbehavior:

Pay Rent or Quit Notices are typically used when the tenant has not paid the rent. They give the tenant a few days (three to five in most states) to pay the rent or move out (“quit”).

Cure or Quit Notices are typically given after a tenant violates a term or condition of the lease or rental agreement, such as a no-pets clause or the requirement to refrain from making excessive noise. Usually, the tenant has a set amount of time in which to correct, or “cure,” the violation. A tenant who fails to do so must move or face the possibility of an eviction lawsuit.

Unconditional Quit Notices are the harshest of all. They order the tenant to vacate the premises with no chance to pay the rent or correct a lease or rental agreement violation. In most states, unconditional quit notices are allowed only when the tenant has:

repeatedly violated a significant lease or rental agreement clause

been late with the rent on more than one occasion

seriously damaged the premises, or

engaged in serious illegal activity, such as drug dealing on the premises.

However, in some states, landlords may use Unconditional Quit Notices for transgressions that would require Pay or Quit Notices or Cure or Quit Notices in other, more tenant-friendly states. In these strict states, landlords may extend second chances if they wish, but no law requires them to do so.

Even after receiving notice, some tenants won’t leave or fix the lease or rental agreement violation. If you still want the tenant to leave, you must begin an unlawful detainer lawsuit by properly serving the tenant with a summons and complaint for eviction.

Notice for Termination Without Cause
Landlords may usually use a 30-Day or 60-Day Notice to Vacate to end a month-to-month tenancy when the tenant has not done anything wrong. Many rent control cities, however, do not allow this; they require the landlord to prove a legally recognized reason for eviction (“just cause”) of tenants.

Tenant Defenses
If the tenant decides to mount a defense, it may add weeks — even months — to the process. A tenant can point to mistakes in the notice or the eviction complaint, or improper service (delivery) of either, in an attempt to delay or dismiss the case. The way that you have conducted business with the tenant may also affect the outcome: If your rental unit is uninhabitable or the tenant thinks you are retaliating, this may excuse or shift attention away from the tenant’s wrongdoing and diminish your chances of victory.

Removal of the Tenant
If you win the unlawful detainer lawsuit, you will get a judgment for possession of the property and/or for unpaid rent. But you can’t just move the tenant and his things out onto the sidewalk — trying to remove a tenant yourself can cause a lot of trouble. (Don’t Lock Out or Freeze Out a Tenant — It’s Illegal.)

BE CAREFUL REMOVING TENANTS’ ABANDONED PROPERTY
A few states allow landlords to freely dispose of property a tenant leaves behind after moving out. Even in these states, this is legal only if it is quite clear that the tenant has left permanently, intending to turn the place over to the owner. In many states, landlords must follow storage and notification procedures.

Typically, you must give the court judgment to a local law enforcement officer (sheriff or marshal), along with a fee that is charged to the tenant as part of your costs to bring suit. The sheriff or marshal gives the tenant a notice that the officer will be back within a number of days to physically remove the tenant if he isn’t gone by then.

Rationale for the Rules
Landlords often chafe at the detailed rules that they must follow. There is a reason, however, why most states have insisted on strict compliance. First of all, an eviction case is, relatively speaking, a very fast legal procedure. (How many other civil cases are over and done with after a few weeks?) The price to pay for this streamlined treatment is unwavering adherence to the rules.

Second, what’s at stake here — a tenant’s home — is arguably more important than a civil case concerning money or business. Consequently, legislators have been extra careful to see to it that the tenant gets adequate notice and an opportunity to respond.
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