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Landlords: How to Deal with Problem Tenants
Tenants that break the law or violate your lease can put a serious dent in your profits and trying to resolve disputes on your own can be incredibly frustrating. Having access to a provider lawyer with a Small Business Legal Plan or Home Business Supplement from LegalShield to support you, or even deal with the tenant directly, can reduce stress and increase the success of your rental business.
Understanding the Law, Your Rights and Obligations as a Landlord
If you’re reading this page, you are likely dealing with one or more of the following common tenant problems.
- Late or partial rent
- Property damage
- Illegal activity
- Excessive complaining
- Unapproved guests/subletters
- Pet problems
The the first step to resolving issues with problem tenants is to understand your rights, responsibilities and options. The second step may be to contact a lawyer to get legal advice and the support you need to handle the situation quickly and effectively.
Dealing With Late Rent and Partial-Payers
When dealing with a tenant that is late with the rent or has paid only part of the total fee, you should consider your options carefully. No matter how convincing a tenant may be, making exceptions could set you up for future late or unpaid rent.
Making it crystal clear at the beginning of the relationship that rent is due on the first of the month and there are no exceptions can help avoid problems in the first place. However, if tenants are still unable or unwilling to pay rent on time, the laws in your state may provide you with a variety of options.
Notice to Pay or Quit
Most states allow landlords to send a notice to quit one day after the rent was due while others provide tenants with a short grace period. Follow the law in your state and make sure your notice letter is in the proper format.
Do the laws in your state allow you to serve the notice in person or are you allowed to send it by mail? Getting service correct is critical to making sure eviction would be enforceable.
If you’ve communicated with the tenant, served the proper notice and still don’t have the full rent, it may be time to start the formal eviction process.
Choosing the course of action which best meets your needs depends on the specific circumstances of the situation, the terms of the lease, and the law in your state. A LegalShield plan lets you speak to a lawyer familiar with the laws in your state. Your provider lawyer can also review lease documents at no additional charge. Legal support, advice and document review can go a long way when trying to recover unpaid rent.
Dealing With Illegal or Disruptive Behavior
Tenants that break laws or are otherwise a nuisance to neighbors can not only create business headaches for landlords but can cause significant legal liability, too.
Did you know neighbors can sue landlords and that local, state and federal authorities can levy big fines if a landlord does not properly address a tenant that is dealing drugs out of their rental unit or breaking other laws? Also, landlords can be personally responsible if a property manager they’ve hired handles the situation improperly.
While calling the police may be the right first move, calling a lawyer to help you understand your rights and responsibilities can be just as important. A lawyer can help you take steps to address your potential liability, and should it be necessary, remove the tenant permanently.
Don’t stress and guess. Join LegalShield and for a small monthly fee you can contact a provider lawyer any time you need legal advice. Legal plans include consultation on an unlimited number of legal matters at no additional charge.