When a residential rental property is without rules, it is doomed for disaster. Tenants that aren’t bound by the rules in their rental contract are free to do whatever they want to your real estate investment. In this article, we’ll outline the reasons why you need to create rules, and what specific rules you should enforce starting now.
Why do you need rules in your multi-unit rental property?
Setting rules in a rental property is non-negotiable because tenants will find ways to abuse your property without proper rules in place. Here are three reasons why you need to set your own rules for your South Florida residential rental property:
- To set things straight. Keep in mind that not all tenants intentionally break the rules. Sometimes, they simply aren’t aware of the rules at all. By setting the rules and explaining them to your tenants, they’ll be aware of what you expect of them.
- To keep tenants in line. Make your rules clear to keep tenants in line. Tenants that have too much freedom will abuse your property.
- To be able to sue. You won’t be able to sue your tenant for breaking the rules if there are no rules to break. Making rules can help you take legal action when necessary.
Want to make sure your tenants don’t break the rules? Start by screening your tenants. A reputable property management company will be able to narrow down your tenant pool to those that are likely to take care of your property as if it were their own.
What rules should you set on your rental property?
Whether you own a single-family home or a townhouse, it’s important to set specific and realistic rules on your rental premises. Rules allow your tenants to co-exist (in multi-unit properties) and understand your expectations. Furthermore, a solid set of rules can help you steer clear of tenant-related disputes, and ensure that your tenants pay their rent on time.
#1 Rent payments
This is one of the most important rules in any rental unit. If you don’t outline when tenants need to pay in the rental contract, tenants won’t be obligated to pay promptly. You also won’t be able to assert that your tenant paid their rent late if you don’t define what a “late payment” is. If tenants pay their rent one day after the due date, is that considered late, or are your tenants granted a grace period? If the payment is late, will you charge a late fee?
It’s critical to set this rule so that you can continue earning rental income. However, be sure to read your state laws to determine what you can and can’t charge. If you’ve enlisted the services of a property management company, they’ll be able to help you draft a fool-proof lease contract.
#2 Smoking areas
Do you own a multi-unit building? Make it clear where tenants can and can’t smoke. As a general rule, consider banning smoking inside the unit due to the risk of fire. Smoking in common areas is acceptable, but be sure to specify which areas they can smoke in. You wouldn’t want tenants to smoke in the daycare center, would you? Common areas where smoking isn’t allowed include the park, pool, and all hallways.
Don’t forget to install smoke detectors inside the rental units to eliminate the risk of a fire. A property management company will check the smoke detectors when they conduct routine inspections.
#3 Quiet hours
A common cause of tenant disputes is noise. That’s why you should require your tenants to follow the quiet hours, which is often from 10 P.M. to 7 A.M. That way, you can steer clear of complaints from angry neighbors about a tenant that’s throwing parties ‘til dawn. On weekends, require your tenants to follow longer quiet hours to make sure that tenants who are sleeping in get enough sleep. With that said, quiet hours on weekdays should be shorter.
Is your rental in an HOA or COA community? The association’s quiet hours might be shorter or longer than the quiet hours you require. You can ask your South Florida property management company to check for you.
Allowing pets in your rental property can be beneficial because it widens your pool of potential tenants. Do keep in mind, though, that not all buildings allow all pets. For example, it’s not uncommon for condo communities to ban dogs that exceed a certain weight, or dog breeds that are considered “dangerous such as Pitbulls, German Shepherds, and Rottweillers. However, if you own the building, you get to decide whether or not to allow dogs, cats, etc.
Again, be sure to check your state laws to make sure you’re allowed to ban a type of pet. In addition, under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), you can’t ban service animals in your real estate investment, so in that case, you have to accommodate your tenant’s needs.
Whether or not you allow renovations in your rental unit is entirely up to you, however, make sure to check with the building owner. For single-family homes, allowing renovations can be advantageous since it gives your unit an upgrade – a coat of paint, for instance, can increase the value of your real estate investment. Don’t forget to make it clear in the rental contract that tenants should ask permission prior to making permanent changes to the unit.
Pro Tip: Require your tenants to write a request letter. If you’ve partnered with an innovative property management company, they should have a tenant portal where they can upload the letter. Having it in writing protects you and your tenant in case of conflict.
#6 Right to enter
Another rule to include in the rental contract involves you, the real estate investor. Under what circumstances can you enter the rental unit? The rental contract should be clear on this matter because your tenants can sue you for entering the unit without informing them. As a general rule, landlords can enter the unit without prior notice when there is an emergency like a gas leak. If it’s not urgent, the landlord needs to give the tenant advance notice.
There are plenty of other rules to include in your rental contract. At Luxury Property Care, we pride ourselves on the years we’ve spent serving real estate investors in South Florida. Our company has been in the business for over fifteen years, and we continue to provide full-service property management to our clients.
If you’re searching for a property management firm that can help create and enforce rules, please feel free to contact us today by calling (561) 944 – 2992. You can also contact us online for more information.