How Can Landlords Protect Themselves from Harassment
Every career in real estate has its ups and downs, and successful investors can mitigate the bad sides while maximizing the good. If your tenant is creating a hostile condition to make you uncomfortable or encourage you to break their lease, this is the right article for you. We’ll take a look at how landlords can protect themselves from harassment.
Conduct Proper Tenant Screening
We cannot overemphasize the importance of a proper and thorough tenant screening. Undoubtedly it can be stressful to run a background check on every candidate, especially if you have several applicants. But doing so can save you from a lot of hassle down the line as this routine allows you to know who you’re letting onto your property. Although you can skip such burdensome tasks by outsourcing to an expert if you decide to learn more (about what a professional property manager can do to help).
Moreso, tenant interviews are the perfect opportunity to discuss some of your property policies. For instance, if you didn’t specify in your ad that you have a no pet policy, an interview would be the right time to inform the applicants. That way, everyone is on the same page when they’re ready to move into the unit.
Encourage Automated Online Payments
Most instances of tenant harassment cases often revolve around money. There are many ways residents can frustrate their landlord when it comes to the issue of payment. Apart from withholding rent altogether, a tenant might decide to pay their rent in small change, refuse to pay the increment, or claim to have sent a cheque via mail.
However, when you opt for online payments, you make it easier to eliminate these strategies. Although it’s essential to note that the tenant can still freeze automated payments, they’re less likely to withhold rent as a weapon against you.
It’s vital for every landlord to have insurance, whether or not they have to manage difficult tenants. However, it can be handy to have a safety blanket if you do. Since renters can punish you by intentionally damaging your property, it would be best to have a policy that caters to your loss. Although in such a scenario, you would be right to take the money out of their security deposit. But if you can’t prove they did it or the damage is extensive, then you’ll need coverage.
If you’re not already covered, start researching landlord insurance policies. You might want to consider packages that include legal fees because if a tenant is intentionally destructive, that’s grounds for a landlord lawsuit.
Keep a Record of All Communication
Another way to protect yourself from tenant harassment is to record all communications. Often, when such disputes go to court, there’s a tendency for it to become he said, she said scene. In such a scenario, it’s often hard to prove what transpired, and the verdict could easily swing the other way. Thus, the best way to avoid that would be to keep receipts of your interaction.
Store online and offline copies of your texts, emails, and other written communication. You can even get a witness to escort you when you physically see them. However, ensure you legally obtain these. For instance, if you want to take photos or videos to prove your point, the law demands you give your tenants at least 24 hours notice before entering their unit. You shouldn’t break the law to prove your point, it might be perceived as retaliation, and your tenant could counter-sue.
Make a Police Report
Finally, if all attempts to broker peace fail, you should make a police report. For instance, if a tenant is sending you death threats or performing other menacing acts, then it’s time to report to the authorities. Filing an official police report will strengthen your case in court and perhaps even fast-track the eviction of such a tenant, This can be enough proof to serve an eviction notice.
Despite your tenant’s unruly behavior, it would be in your best interest to refrain from threatening them back. After all, the last thing you want is to escalate the situation or weaken your legitimacy by sinking to their level. It will help your case if you remain composed and professional at all times.
For many landlords, a common drawback is dealing with difficult tenants. However, when your tenants start to cross the threshold from plain annoying to active harassment, you need to safeguard your interests.