Paying the Price of Landlord Mistakes

There are many types of landlords in the renting world:  

  • The Hands Off Landlord
  • The Nosey Landlord
  • The Mr. Fix It Landlord
  • The Let’s Be Friends Landlord
  • The Slum Lord

If you are already a landlord, then you can probably relate to the one or more of the titles (and hopefully not the latter one).  Though all of these different types of landlords may have their own unique way of handling their rental(s), there are some processes and some laws that shouldn’t be ignored.  Not heeding this advice may cost you more than just a headache down the road.

There are many facets to running a tight, profitable, somewhat grief-free rental property.  Here is a list of 5 of those components that will definitely save you time and money:

  1. Know the Landlord-Tenant Law in your state
  2. Research your HOA Bylaws and Policies
  3. Practice Fair Housing to the ‘T”
  4. Inspections, Inspections, Inspections
  5. Find Great Tenants and keep them happy

In this article, we will touch base on each of these items, but stay tuned for a series of blogs in the near future that will dissect each topic and dissolve any trepidation or skepticism that may surface at the mention of these concerns.

Landlord – Tenant Law

Every state implements different laws regarding the relationship and processes of the Landlord and Tenant.  It is within your role as a landlord to know and execute the laws accordingly. Did you know that if a tenant takes their landlord to court for lack of receiving their security deposit on time that they can sue their landlord for up to 3x the security deposit itself?  Here are a few more examples of Colorado Landlord – Tenant Laws:

  • Security Deposit In most instances, it is the responsibility of the landlord to return any refundable security deposit back to the tenant within 30 days after they move from the premises.  

★ Tip:  Doing a pre-move out inspection once the tenant gives their notice will allow you to assess possible damages and prepare by scheduling quotes for such repairs prior to move out.  This step will assist you in saving valuable time during that 30 day period as some vendors may not be as speedy as you would like at the time you need them most.

  • Abandoned Property – If a former tenant leaves items behind, it is state law that the landlord give the former tenant a 15 day written notice before selling or disposing of their property.
  • Warrant of Habitability – A tenant has the right to terminate a lease if the home is lacking some rather simple items (and of course the landlord does not oblige) such as:
    • Locks on exterior windows and doors
    • Adequate number of trash receptacles in good condition
    • Extermination of a rodent or vermin infestation

HOA Bylaws and Policies

Oh the HOA….unless you are sitting on the board of an HOA, you probably cringe every time the acronym is mentioned.  Don’t get me wrong, the HOA’s serve a purpose, but that doesn’t mean that they are all created equal or easy to work with.  Know the laws as a property owner as well as for your tenants.

  • Move In Fees – Many (most) interior multi-family units have some sort of move-in process and fee/deposit required upon move-in and reserving the elevators.  
  • HOA Dues – Though it is tougher for your HOA to foreclose on your property these days due to non-payment, they can definitely restrict your tenants’ privileges such as receiving their annual community pool pass. Don’t be that landlord. Pay your dues.
  • HOA Rules –  You will get at least one warning before a violation fee is issued, but it will save everyone a lot of distress if the rules are known up front.  Typically, if your tenant(s) keep their porches tidy, don’t smoke, pull their weeds, put trash in proper place and doesn’t use the wrong grill on their balcony, then everyone should be good, but rules can change, so stay informed.

★ Tip: Know your rules and pass them along to your tenant prior to move in, better yet, with a copy of their lease.

Fair Housing Laws

Let’s keep it simple.  It is unlawful to advertise for or make the decision to rent a property based on race, color, sex, familial status, handicap, national origin or religion.  For ALL the details, it would be wise to take a class and/or read more HERE.

Inspections

So you found the PERFECT tenant.  They were SO nice. They pay their rent every month, ON TIME.  They never submit maintenance requests, AAHHH! A year later, they give their 30 or 60 day notice just like their lease states.  Everything is rolling along as you dreamed it would until you visit the property for the first time in over 11 months. OUCH! The weeds have overgrown, the fridge has been leaking for, well, a very long time, the hardwood floors are wrecked, and the east side outer window sills are rotting off your home due to last season’s bad hail storm and the lack of paint that was barely attached.  Completely the tenants’ fault? No. 60% your fault and/or doubtlessly avoidable? Yes, probably. The tenants should have maintained the lawn and reported the leak, but if you would have visited the home at least once every 3-6 months, you could have been more prepared and possibly have caught a couple of the problems before they were beyond repair.

★ Tip:  It should state in your lease that the lessor has the right to enter the home at any time during reasonable hours for the means of inspections, improvements or re-renting the property.  We always give our tenants a 24 hour courtesy unless it is an emergency and it is also wise to take in account the tenants’ right to quiet enjoyment (which should also be stated in the lease).

Find a Great Tenant! And keep them happy…

This last component to successfully managing your rental investment with as little grief as possible is to find a great tenant and do your best within reason to keep them happy and at arms’ length.

  • Take enough time to market your property.  It is in our lease that 60 days notice to vacate is required which allows plenty of time to find a new tenant.
    • Use this time wisely and utilize proper advertising techniques from the get go: good photos, precise description and free online advertising such as Zillow and Craigslist.
    • Don’t take your first applicant if they are not what you are looking for in terms of pets, credit score, rental history, etc.  Just make sure you are complying with Fair Housing laws and staying consistent with all prospective tenants.
    • Make sure you are off to a good start with your new tenant:
      • House is professionally cleaned and the maintenance checklist is up to par.
      • All communications have been clear, prompt and delivered with a kind, professional tone.
    • Keep home in good working order throughout terms of lease.
    • Take any complaints with an open ear.  If your tenant is disgruntled, listen first.  Then try to come to a mutual agreement. It will make everyone’s life easier in the end.

If you live in Greater Denver area, contact TJC Real Estate and Management Services for a complimentary consultation.  We are unique in the industry as we are a one stop shop for real estate investors. TJC can help with the acquisition, property management, and asset management. Our goal is to create a long-term relationship that helps your asset(s) grow, as well as, provides stable, long-term ROI. We are happy to assist you on your journey to become a successful real estate entrepreneur!


Schedule an appointment today to discuss your property management questions!

Brought to you by Sondra Lockett-Cameron, Marketing Manager for TJC Real Estate and Management Services.

TJC Real Estate & Management Services • 303.324.6988 • info@tjcrealestate.com

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