A landlord-tenant relationship needs to be built in trust. As the landlord entrusts his or her property to the tenant, he/she expects that the latter will abide by the items listed in the contract and utmost care be accorded on the property. As the tenant signs the contract, he or she hopes that the landlord will be considerate enough to honor the contract as the tenant has invested time, money, and effort in securing the apartment after an exhaustive search process. Therefore, both parties need to work on keeping the trust level high.
However, there are cases when the tenant violates certain terms of the tenancy contract unwittingly or otherwise. While the tenant can look at it as an innocent mistake he or she can easily correct, the landlord may view it as a blatant disregard of contract terms and a breach in trust bounded by the tenancy contract. The tenant may have failed to comprehensively review the contract may be filled with so much fine print that is hard to keep up, at the end of the day, it’s a violation nonetheless.
Here are some of the common violations of a tenant regarding the use and maintenance of an apartment leased by a landlord.
Homeowners Association violations
If a residential unit is covered by a wider homeowner association’s by-laws and regulations, there are certain rules that need to be followed. This could include scheduled disposal of rubbish, keeping common areas free from obstruction, or limits in the use of facilities.
If a tenant fails to follow these rules, he or she is, in effect, violating the contract signed with the landlord and therefore may receive a reprimand letter or a verbal warning from the homeowner association’s management arm. This violation may be more common among new residents, and will eventually be rectified as they get used to the HOA rules.
Keeping disallowed pets
Pets can cause harm to your investment property, which is why so many premises disallow them. Nonetheless, tenants will sometimes try to sneak them in. Making it clear that pets are not allowed and keeping them within the apartment is a lease violation that can merit a fine or eviction is one way to keep them out. Pets can cause scratches or other damages to walls, allergy, noise, or other hygiene reasons.
Unless these pets are classified as 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, the tenant has breached the tenancy agreement and is subject to a warning.
A compromise may be reached when tenants renew their lease contract. A slight rent increase can be made to pay for any potential damage or inconvenience to other neighboring residents.
Fire prevention codes may be enforced and restrict a tenant’s ability to do certain activities that increase the risk of fires. This includes prohibiting puffing a cigarette within the property. But even without local laws that govern fire hazards, as an owner, you have the right to ban smoking indoors and around your property. It may be a good idea to do so since smoking can discolor home interiors, cause burns, and leave a foul odor.
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 with respect to the tenants’ rights to privacy.
Keeping the noise to a minimum may be difficult to maintain especially if the threshold level in a condominium or apartment complex is low. For this reason, noise disturbances are a common yet preventable lease violation. If the tenant is used to hosting parties that extend deep into the night, such noise disturbance is likely high.
Noise disturbance is an annoying tenant violation as it’s often reported by nearby residents rather than the owner who lives far from this rented property. This is why building 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 tenancy lease agreement.
Subletting or keeping long-term guests
Tenants may opt to keep long-term guests such as friends or extended family members whose presence could impact both security of the premises and the well-being of the property. Tenants may opt to rent one extra bedroom through an Airbnb listing which the landlord may prohibit for whatever reason.
If tenants pay a fixed utility fee, the landlord could end up spending more on electricity or water bills if the number of occupants in the property exceeds the number listed in the property.
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 fixed rental fee per person per month or immediate lease termination if that number is exceeded.
Interior alterations that drill holes on walls or put nails in walls to hang decorations or pots and pans are commonplace. These acts may seem harmless to tenants, but they can create extra work and expense for landlords when changing tenants and renovation is required.
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.
Keep 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.
Failure or delayed payment of rent
Some tenants may offer excuses during their first few months of failure to pay rent on time. While landlords can easily let them slide, the habit can linger until it becomes a recurring activity.
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.
Using an online payment system reduces the likelihood of rent being delayed. 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 process of 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.
There are many ways a tenant can abuse the tenancy agreement. The above list is just a common of these infractions that landlords should pay attention to. On the flip side, landlords also have to abide by the agreement by providing a habitable residential environment, respects tenant privacy, and providing the necessary needs such as power and water supply. Compliance by both parties helps ensure a healthy landlord-tenant relationship that can last for many years.