Everyone has heard horror stories from landlords about experiences they’ve had with the worst possible tenants. Many rental property owners have had to deal with tenants who don’t pay rent, tenants who violate the lease, and tenants who damage or even vandalize their property. Evictions are a major landlord fear, and so is vacancy that never ends. You want to protect your investment property and your ROI.

Today, we’re sharing a few of the common landlord fears we encounter, and offering some suggestions on how to prevent them from turning into horror stories. 

Tenants Who Don’t Pay Rent 

Good tenant screening and a consistent rent collection process can help you avoid the nightmare of having tenants who don’t pay rent or who pay late all the time. Make sure you talk to former and current landlords to find out if applicants have a record of on-time payments. Check nationwide eviction records and collect enough of a security deposit that you won’t lose too much money if you have to evict your tenant. Your rent collection policy should be included in your lease and stipulate when rent is due, how much is due, and how it should be paid. Make sure tenants understand the consequences of late payments, such as late fees and eviction proceedings. 

Not receiving your rental payments on time is an understandable fear. But, with good screening and excellent tenant communication, you can increase the chances that you’ll receive rent when it’s due. 

Tenants Who Violate the Lease 

Nightmare lease violation situations include tenants who are discovered to be doing illegal activities inside your property, tenants who move in pets that were not approved or screened, and unauthorized residents who did not undergo a background check. You might drive by the property and see three pitbulls fighting in the front yard. Maybe there are a pack of RVs using your front lawn as a parking lot. What if neighbors report suspected drug activity?

Again, you need to screen carefully. You also need to conduct routine inspections. Let the tenants know that you’ll conduct at least one interior walk-through during the lease period. Give them notice before you arrive, and do thorough check of the property when you’re there. This will help you ensure tenants are complying with the lease. 

Tenants Who Damage Your Property 

Tenants Who Damage Your PropertyProperty damage is expensive to fix. Well-screened tenants who want to receive their security deposit back will take care of your home and help you maintain it. If you notice that a tenant has damaged your property, you can use the security deposit to pay for repairs. We have rarely encountered a situation where the amount of damage exceeds the security deposit. If that happens, it will be hard to recover the additional money that’s owed. This isn’t impossible, but it may take time. 

California law allows you to collect up to two times the rent amount as a security deposit. Always try to collect a little more than the standard one-month rent equivalency. When you’re conducting landlord reference checks, ask if the applicant left any damage behind and received their full deposit back.

Owning rental property can be lucrative and profitable, but it comes with risks. Professional property management can help you manage those risks and minimize your liability. Avoid your own horror stories with tenants by contacting us at Elite Real Estate Services & Property Management. We’d love to be your San Diego property management resource.