Avoiding a problem tenancy and any resulting income loss or damage to your rental property can be as simple as educating your tenants about their responsibilities throughout the tenancy. Start your tenancies off right, and you can avoid a number of problems down the road.
Your lease agreement should include provisions which describe the tenants’ responsibilities. But don’t stop there.
It is also a smart idea to perform an orientation at the start of every new tenancy. Sit down with your new tenant and go over each item, answering any questions the tenant may have so you can increase the odds of a trouble-free tenancy.
Although the following checklist is not exhaustive, it serves as a starting point for outlining your tenants’ responsibilities, and can be tailored for your individual property:
Generally, tenant responsibilities include:
Cleaning. The tenant is responsible for keeping the rental property clean. Surprisingly, this is often viewed as a subjective term. You can be specific and tell them what to do–clean the windows regularly, throw trash in the proper bin, store items in designated areas only, and so on. Alternatively, you can show them what is expected by explaining that the rental has to be returned in the same condition as when the tenant moves in. Excessive possessions for the space rented should be prohibited as well. Explain that untidy housekeeping, like piles of clothing on the floors can encourage pest infestations.
Tenants must use gas, electrical, and plumbing fixtures properly and only for the purpose intended to avoid hazards and unnecessary wear.
A tenant is responsible for fixing or paying for repairs of things they break or use up, like replacing light bulbs, broken screen doors or window panes.
Notifying the landlord immediately upon discovering an item that needs to be repaired. Landlords have a corresponding duty to fix the item as soon as possible. Even if the tenant reported the repair, the landlord should still provide notice that they are going to be in the unit for the repair, unless it is an emergency.
Tenants can never disable a safety feature like exterior lighting, or smoke or fire alarms that could place themselves, other tenants, or the property at risk.
Tenants are not allowed to add on to the property inside or out, including painting, remodeling, or moving their belongings into sheds or other structures not included in their lease.
The rental property should be used only as a residential space. Any business use should be prohibited, or at the very least approved by the landlord to make sure it does not increase noise and traffic, violate any zoning laws, or increase the landlord’s costs.
Only the tenants named on the lease have the right to live there. Be sure to specify how long a guest can visit before becoming an unauthorized occupant, and demand that any unauthorized occupants must submit to a tenant background check if they eventually are allowed to stay. (These rules may not apply to certain family members.)
Tenants must respect the rights of other tenants and adjacent property owners to quiet and peaceful enjoyment. This means no loud parties, yelling, confrontations or parking complaints.
Anything that was in the rental property when the tenant moved in must remain the rental property when the tenant moves out.
Let the tenant know you will be conducting routine inspections throughout the tenancy. Be sure to perform the inspections regularly so you can nip problems in the bud.
For more information and ideas on how to educate your tenants for a successful tenancy, visit TenantsInfo.com.
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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.