8 Common Lease Violations and How to Prevent Them
From late rent to property damage, certain lease violations occur more often than others.
Luckily, every common lease violation is something you can easily prevent and treat as an opportunity to strengthen your relationship with your tenant, which will encourage them to renew their lease.
Here’s what to keep an eye on.
1. Unpermitted Pets
Pets can cause harm to your investment, which is why so many places disallow them. Nonetheless, tenants will sometimes try to sneak them in. Making it clear that pets are not allowed and having them is a lease violation that can merit a fine or eviction is one way to keep them out. Unless of course these are service animals or emotional support animals, which would be a violation of the law to not allow those types of animals in your rental property. Remember this when screening residents for your properties!
Simultaneously, one of the tips and tricks to get your renters to renew their lease, or get them to sign in the first place, is to let them have pets. A slight rent increase can be made to pay for any potential damage.
2. HOA Conflicts
If your tenants reside in a homeowner association (HOA), there may be ample opportunity for code violations. Keeping your property trash free and limiting outdoor storage, for example, are easy to make infractions. Consider making the HOA agreement available through a tenant portal. Additionally, don’t assume tenants will read long rules, even on important topics. Instead, read through the rules with your tenants to make sure they hear them at least once.
3. Smoking Indoors
You have the right to ban smoking indoors and around your property. And it may be a good idea to do so since smoking can discolor home interiors, cause burns, and leave a smell. It’s also a standard part of fire prevention.
You can check for signs of indoor smoking during routine inspections and enforce the rules if discovered. However, it may be easier to simply allow smoking outside (including a roof, patio, or balcony). This way, you don’t risk undermining your tenant relationship. Additionally, it would be challenging to take photographs documenting indoor smoking given tenants’ rights to privacy.
4. Noise Disturbances
It’s as easy to be loud as it is to be quiet. For this reason, noise disturbances are a common yet preventable lease violation. This is why knowing how to build a positive relationship with tenants is so important. By establishing a professional yet friendly relationship informed by empathy, you can communicate the importance of limiting noise disturbances and the repercussions of failing to do so, which should be outlined in the lease agreement.
5. Long-Term Guests
To prevent unwanted long-term guests, include a provision in your lease agreement that stipulates how many days guests are allowed to stay. Include consequences such as a rental fee of $500 per person per month or immediate lease termination if that number is exceeded.
This is important to stress because technology has made it easier to sublet the space without permission or to use it as an Airbnb. This will also be an issue if utilities are offered at a flat rate in your rental agreement because unauthorized long-term guests would be making use of your services for free.
6. Property Damage
Pinning blankets to windows to use as shades and putting nails in walls to hang decorations or pots and pans are commonplace. These acts may seem harmless to tenants, but they can create work for you when you’re trying to make an easy rental tenant turnover happen.
One way to discourage this sort of damage is by including it in your lease agreement and letting your tenants know that the cost or repair will be deducted from their security deposit. Make sure to take photos of the apartment beforehand to serve as evidence of any damage. Also, give your tenants a move-in form where they mark off any damage that existed before their move-in and explain that this information will be used to calculate any deductions taken out of their security deposit.
Finally, to discourage your tenants from hanging up blankets with nails, consider installing micro blinds.
7. Unpaid Rent
To prevent unpaid rent, stipulate the exact due date for rent payment in your lease agreement. That way, even one late payment can be considered a lease violation. Although treating barely late payments as lease violations can undermine a positive tenant relationship. So, instead, write out terms for late payment in your lease. Consider rent protection lease violation fees or late payment fees. That way, tenants don’t have to worry about their late rent while their checks are in the mail.
Of course, using an online payment system reduces the likelihood of rent being delayed by or lost in the mail. It also makes it easier to pay thanks to payment reminders and auto-bill pay. Most importantly, it’s a simple way to maintain a positive relationship with your tenant.
If the tenant doesn’t intend to pay or fails to, you can begin the eviction. First, you must issue a notice of lease violation or a pay-or-quit notice. The notice should outline precisely when payment is due and that if the tenant fails to pay they will be evicted.
If unpaid rent is during a time where there’s an eviction moratorium, like during the coronavirus pandemic, make sure to follow the procedures outlined in the moratoriums to avoid violating the law and incurring penalties. In some cases, states may have their moratoriums, like California’s AB 3088, or a nationwide moratorium, like the CDC eviction moratorium.
8. Landlords Violating Lease Agreements
Tenants aren’t the only ones who can violate a lease agreement; so can landlords. For example, tenants have a right to a habitable home, which means landlords must provide a space that’s a fit residence.
Privacy is another tenant-right. It means landlords are unable to enter a rental unit whenever they want. Tenants must be given reasonable notice.
If these rights are violated, tenants can report a code violation or sue. This can result in withheld rent, lease agreement termination, or fines.
Avoiding landlord violations is one of the pros of working with an experienced and skilled property manager. A property manager will keep up to date with all ordinances so as not to violate them.
Bottom Line on Lease Violations
The easiest way to prevent common lease violations is to include them in your lease agreement and explain them in person to your tenants.
When you have a professional yet friendly relationship with your tenants, they will be less likely to violate their lease because they’ll feel valued enough as tenants to value the lease as themselves.
This, in turn, will encourage them to renew their lease.