I just had a great conversation with a Landlord about their investment rental property. It was a timely discussion, since we've been having recent issues with their slow-paying, delinquent tenant, who is also not upholding their obligation to maintain the property in a clean and sanitary manner. The Landlord was formerly managing this property on their own, but hired us to take over the management and handle things for them, since they are located out of the area. The Landlord had come back to the property to handle some maintenance and repairs, in order to keep the property in good working condition, and also to get a look at the way the tenant has been keeping up with the property, as well. We've recently inspected the interior and found that the property is in dire need of some serious upkeep. We performed a reinspection after giving the tenant almost a month to improve things. Unfortunately, it just wasn't enough to show that they have the desire to make it right. Compound that with the rent payments that are now running a few weeks late, it's time to make some tough decisions.
I've seen this situation, time and time again. Tenants start out doing great, but over time, rent payments get slower and slower. Their excuses and reasoning get more convincing, and they start pulling on the heart strings, so you make exceptions to what was established in the lease agreement. Things get a little better, but then they drop off again. Then, you discover things aren't going well with their housekeeping habits. So, you have a talk with them, and the tenant agrees to make it better. Well, that never happens, and it just piles on and piles on. This is not the way it should go, and it does NOT need to continue.
While it may make a Landlord, or even a Property Manager, feel good by offering some grace to a non-compliant, delinquent tenant, this often is not the best move for anyone. Tenants will learn, over time, to take advantage of your niceness. They will use this to their benefit, as long as you let them get away with it. The better decision is to keep the "grace" limited to what's afforded the Landlord in the Lease Agreement and within the Law.
If a tenant is late on rent, immediately post a 3-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Deliver Possession. If the tenant doesn't pay the total of rent owed and they remain in the property after the 3 day period, then send the eviction request to your attorney to get the eviction complaint filed. Timely actions on this process are very important, as it can affect how quickly the tenant will be evicted, or if they decide to actually pay rent. Don't allow the tenant to sell you on any further excuses, which will only prolong the eviction process.
If a tenant is non-compliant on cleaning or other issues with regard to property upkeep, or is in violation of community rules and regulations, then immediately post a 7-Day Notice with Opportunity to Cure. If the tenant does not correct the issue within the allotted time, then promptly notify your eviction attorney and get them started on the eviction complaint.
It's important to understand that any unnecessary delay can be costly to the Landlord, not only in lost rent, but also in how much money will be required to put into getting the property made ready for a new tenant. If a delinquent tenant is allowed to remain on the property, the likelihood that they're going to purposely damage the property and leave it even more unclean/unkept is very high. Act quickly and show that you mean business. You're completely within your rights as a Landlord to expect a Tenant to hold up their end of the lease contract.
Eric M. Boyd, Owner/Broker
Step One Realty LLC
Jacksonville Property Management