Whether you rent out several properties, or simply lease a room or basement suite, here are six things your tenants might not be telling you, despite their best intentions:
1. They need repairs
Dead appliance, leaky faucet or broken towel holder — property damage is the number one thing most tenants avoiding telling their landlord about. Unless it is interrupting their day-to-day life, such as a busted toilet or flood, they will usually wait until the last minute to alert their landlord of the repairs they need. They may try to fix the problem on their own, which could be helpful (especially if the landlord cannot attend to it right away), or it could increase damage if the tenant isn’t a handy person.
The main reason most tenants do not approach their landlords with concerns is because they feel uncomfortable or think their landlord will immediately blame them. As a property manager, try to understand the situation first. Assess if it was normal wear and tear, uncontrollable elements (such as storms or freezing temperatures) or personal neglect that caused the problem.
Depending on the severity of the damage, it may get worse if left unattended. Check in with your tenants regularly and ask about the condition of the property. Being proactive in your communication will increase their willingness to disclose problems.
Also consider performing a rental inspection every six months or so. You will see what has undergone the usual wear and tear, and what has been damaged.
If your tenants have avoided telling you about repairs because they purposely damaged your home, it’s in your best interest to find new tenants immediately.
2. They hear everything
While this might not apply to single dwelling homes, it does relate to properties with shared walls, such as apartments, condos and basement suites. Neighbors hear each other arguing, snoring, listening to music, shutting doors and running water.
Although they get an earful, they might only report noise when it inconveniences them, which is often in the middle of the night. Any property with shared tenancy is going to encounter these issues. As a landlord, it is your job to enforce strict noise policies after a certain hour, as laid out in the lease agreement. Tenants who consistently break these rules after numerous warnings are susceptible to eviction.
3. They think rent is too much
Tenants think you are charging them too much for what they receive in return. Most tenants won’t speak up about their concerns, but if they do, explain that rent price and rent due date are firm and non-negotiable terms of the lease.
4. They have odd habits
They use the dryer as food storage.
They are nocturnal.
5. They don’t clean
Unless you do regular inspections, there’s a high chance they are not keeping the apartment as clean they should be. Bathrooms and kitchens are the areas that get the most neglect.
Some tenants will avoid cleaning at all costs, only to scrub vigorously the day before they move out. You can also bet if they’ve seen spiders or ants crawling around, they might not tell you until it’s a full blown infestation.
Try to do regular inspections to document the condition of the residence before they move in, during their residency and after they move out.
Additionally, if your region allows for it, ask for a security deposit upfront. This protects the landlord in the event a tenant causes damage or the property needs to be cleaned.
6. They have secretly violated their lease
Some tenants will push their luck. Either they have a pet when you prohibited it, or they smoked with the shower on, both actions are a clear violation of lease terms.
Go through the lease with tenants when you first screen them to make sure they understand property rules. Verbally restate important considerations to solidify the terms of their rental.
Not all tenants will keep secrets from you. In fact, there are lots of responsible tenants who keep their landlords up-to-date on all repairs and problems. If you have a good relationship with your renters, hold onto them for as long as you can.
In order to avoid tenants withholding information from you, eliminate any discrepancies first and foremost by being straight about the rules in the lease, conducting regular inspections and promoting an honest landlord-tenant relationship from the beginning.
Anything to add? Feel free to share your experience with us in the comments below!