#Tenants know the value of having a good relationship with their #landlord. A good relationship may give you a little clemency, but a bad relationship can make your living situation stressful. One way to nurture a positive relationship with your landlord is to be upfront and honest from the moment you sign the lease. One of the easiest ways to form a negative relationship with your landlord is to lie or hide things, like breaking the pet policy by hiding a pet. Hiding a pet from your landlord or #propertymanager is a breach of the lease and can seriously cost you in several ways.
If you are planning to rent a home, expect some extra competition. A new survey from real estate marketplace Zillow shows more potential homebuyers, perhaps growing frustrated at the lack of available homes, are considering renting instead.
That means consumers who have no alternative but to rent will go head to head with consumers who have the means to buy a home but have decided to keep their options open and rent a place for a while longer.
Zillow has broken down the ins and outs of the typical home search. For those who want to rent a place, it now takes an average of 10 weeks to find a home to rent. It takes two weeks longer if you’re looking in a tight rental market.
But for those who plan to buy a home, the average search takes 17 weeks, in part because rising prices have pushed more homes out of range and the overall decline in inventory means there are fewer homes to choose from. The Zillow survey-takers found that most consumers who recently moved into a new home considered both buying and renting before settling on one or the other.
Continuing to rent an easy option
Just how tough is it to buy a home these days? The Zillow survey found more than half – 54% – of buyers lost the first home on which they made an offer. For many of these buyers who were renting at the time, continuing to rent became an easy option.
“The line between renting and buying is blurry, and that’s a sign of the times,” said Zillow Chief Marketing Officer Jeremy Wacksman. “It’s difficult and time-consuming to find a home to move to, especially in competitive housing markets.”
Wacksman says keeping rental options open can be a savvy strategy in today’s housing market. Renting while still looking to buy allows him or her to avoid settling for a less-than-desirable home.
Still hard to buy, but for a different reason
After the financial crisis more people rented because they simply couldn’t qualify for a mortgage under the new, suddenly tighter lending standards. Now that more people can afford to buy, there are fewer homes to purchase.
Zillow notes that renters now make up a larger group of the U.S. population than at any time in the last half century. Last week, the U.S. Census Bureau reported the homeownership rate rose very slightly to 63.5 percent in the third quarter of 2016 – recovering slightly from a 51-year low.
When your landlord tells you it’s time to inspect the rental property, do you panic?
If you’ve turned the property into the next potential candidate for Hoarding: Buried Alive, or if you’re using the property as a grow house for weed, you probably should panic because your landlord could, and probably will, evict you for breaking the lease terms.
But don’t worry. If you haven’t damaged anything and the place is in the same shape as when you moved in, your landlord won’t want to ask you leave, and in fact, will probably want to renew your lease at lease renewal time.
Some tenants think that landlords only want to inspect a rental property so they can discover something, anything, in an effort to keep the security deposit.
But don’t worry about that, either. Most landlords aren’t looking for a way to get out of returning your security deposit when they inspect a rental property. They are merely keeping tabs on their investment.
When landlords inspect a rental property, they are merely keeping tabs on their investment.
Here’s a behind-the-scenes look regarding rental property inspections, why they happen, and what you can expect.
Most landlords do a move-in inspection with you and a move-out inspection with (or without) you. They do that to determine whether you left the place in the same condition as when you got it, taking into consideration normal wear and tear.
But it’s a good idea for landlords to check on their property before the year is out, during the lease term. That way, if there is a problem, the landlord can take care of it before it worsens.
Here are some examples of what landlords are looking for:
- What if you secretly brought in a pet to get out of paying pet rent?
- What if you moved someone else in?
- What if there’s a maintenance issue, such as an overloaded circuit, that you weren’t aware was problematic?
The only way your landlord would find out these and other issues, issues they have a right to know about, is by performing an inspection.
One, Two, or Three Times a Year is Normal
Some landlords don’t do inspections at all. This is a bad idea. Maybe your landlord is uncomfortable telling you they want to do an inspection. Or maybe your landlord doesn’t realize the importance of conducting routine inspections. Whatever the case, you can’t count on your landlord never inspecting the rental property.
Some landlords are just the opposite, wrongly believing they can enter the property anytime they like to check out their place. Note to tenants: they can’t! You have what’s known in the law as “the right to quiet enjoyment.” That means your landlord can come over only for specific reasons and can’t come over excessively.
Read your lease to see whether an inspection is specified in the lease. Landlords often inspect once a year, but some inspect a rental property twice a year or quarterly. Whatever the case, you are entitled to get notice, usually 24 or 48 hours in advance, before your landlord comes by to do the inspection.
What You Might Hear from Your Landlord
There are some common issues your landlord might find during an inspection:
- If you have hardwood floors and aren’t maintaining them properly, such as using a wet mop on them, your landlord might notice how dull the floors are looking. They will probably give you instructions on how to care for hardwood floors.
- If there is evidence of a pest infestation, your landlord will want to get an exterminator to come out ASAP. The longer a pest infestation is allowed to go on, the worse it gets. Your landlord will probably tell you to let them know if that happens again.
- If there are holes in the doors or walls, your landlord will probably tell you to fix them. If you don’t, you can expect a deduction from your security deposit.
- If the lawn is your responsibility per the lease, and you aren’t maintaining it, the landlord might do one of two things. They might go over what is expected of you, and then do a follow-up inspection. Or they might hire someone to regularly mow the lawn and deduct the cost from your security deposit.
If you don’t want to risk losing out on getting any of your security deposit back, you should take care of the place as if you owned it. If there are maintenance issues, notify your landlord right away, so they can fix them.
Landlords are allowed to drive by, walk by, or bicycle by their property anytime they like. They can’t go on the property during these drive-by inspections or disturb you in any way. They can just check to see whether everything looks good from the outside.
The property you’re renting from someone is a big investment for them. Regular inspections, along with tenant screenings, are the best tools landlords have to protect their investment.
When you sign a lease, you’re committing to a binding contract – but life happens and you may need to break the lease and move out early.
There are only a few reasons for breaking a lease without being liable for the entire lease amount. They include:
- Military duty: Federal law permits you to terminate your lease with 30 days’ notice if you’re called to active duty.
- Constructive eviction: This legal term refers to the failure of the landlord to keep the residence in habitable condition. What constitutes constructive eviction varies from state to state.
- Bankruptcy: Early lease termination may be included in the judgment of a Chapter 7 or 11 bankruptcy proceeding.
- Natural disaster: An earthquake, tornado, or some other disaster renders the premises uninhabitable.
You also might be able to break your lease if your landlord violates your privacy by showing up repeatedly without giving the required notice.
The following usually aren’t good reasons to break a lease:
- Relocation by employer
- Getting married
- Noisy neighbors
- Rats, mold, and other hygiene issues
- Loss of income or other financial hardship
It’s important to maintain positive communication and a helpful attitude with your landlord.
This could save you from legal proceedings and possible financial burdens. A good attitude together with knowledge of your rights can help you make a graceful exit while retaining resources you need to relocate.
Give Adequate Notice
One of the worst things you can do is to leave your landlord in the lurch. You should give written notice even if you’ve been called to active military duty or you just suffered a fire in the unit.
Explain the Situation
Perhaps you’ve been relocated by your employer or a health crisis is forcing you to move into a supervised care situation. If the landlord understands and sympathizes, there is a better chance of working out an agreement.
If bed bugs or some other condition has made the unit uninhabitable, you must give the landlord an opportunity to correct the problem if the problem happened through no fault of yours. But if you caused the problem, you would be responsible for fixing it.
If you’re leaving for reasons of inhabitability, be clear regarding what that means for you. It may take concessions, such as surrendering all or part of your security deposit, to come to an amicable agreement.
Help Make the Transition Smoother
The landlord needs to make a reasonable effort to find a new tenant if you leave before your lease is up. Reliable, considerate tenants can be difficult to find, though, and many landlords don’t have time to look for one. Your help will probably be appreciated, and it could save you money. Your lease may even require you to advertise the unit in the event of early termination.
Note that the landlord can refuse the tenant you select if they don’t meet the requirements the landlord sets.
Sublet the Unit/Assign the Lease
Not all landlords are open to third-party sublets. But if yours is, you may be able to find someone in your circle of friends that can sublet the unit from you. That sidesteps the need to terminate the lease. Assuming the landlord’s approval, the new tenant pays the rent in your place, and if everything works out, signs a new rental agreement when the lease terminates. In the ideal case, you get your security deposit back upon termination of the lease.
Note that it is usually reasonable for the landlord to deduct the processing costs, such as the costs for credit checks, from your security deposit.
Leaving your rental unit clean makes a statement of respect for the property that landlords appreciate. You’ll likely save the money the landlord would have spent cleaning and generate good karma for yourself as well as for the tenants who come after you.
Understand Your Rights
When circumstances force you to move, it’s important to read your lease. It may contain language that spells out what needs to happen. You should also look up the tenancy laws in your state.
In a constructive eviction claim, terms like “reasonable effort” and “habitable conditions” are fuzzy ones, and documentation helps support your interpretation. Take pictures and get statements from neighbors. Document your efforts to find a new tenant so that, if the efforts are unsuccessful, you can prove you tried.
When you claim inhabitability, it’s often difficult for a landlord to decide who is at fault and what to correct. Instead of simply acting on your frustrations and leaving, try holding a mediation session with a third-party facilitator. Call your local jurisdiction to find out how to obtain one.
Bed bugs are an exceptionally disliked pest and can be hard to get rid of, so renters might be frustrated to learn that their insurance doesn’t cover the insects.
Like cockroaches or rats, bed bugs are considered the responsibility of a tenant. When renters sign almost any lease, they agree to maintain the home they live in and that includes deterring and eliminating pests. This is the case for any type of rental unit, whether it be an apartment or a single-family home.
That means renters cannot file a renters insurance claim for the cost to exterminate bed bugs, damages caused by the insects or medical costs associated with them.
But there are two exceptions. Florida and Maine are the only states with laws mandating landlords and management companies exterminate bed bugs from a tenant’s residence as soon as they are made aware of them. In all other states, tenants are on their own when it comes to the pests because no such mandate exists. Having said that, most states have laws regarding bed bugs and commercial or state-owned properties, such as schools.
If you don’t live in Florida or Maine, there’s little a tenant can do if they think their landlord or company is at fault for them having bed bugs.
Firstly, bed bugs commonly latch onto luggage or clothes and can be easily brought into an apartment by a tenant. It’s highly unlikely a landlord or management company is to blame. But even in some rare cases when they are at fault, renters insurance still might not help you.
For example, a landlord or management company might neglect to keep common areas of an apartment building clear of things that might attract bed bugs. If an infestation ensues as a result and bugs are finding their way into a tenant’s apartment, then the landlord might be to blame. However, a renter probably wouldn’t be able to file a renters insurance claim for related damages or the cost to exterminate the bugs.
To recoup the costs they incur, the tenant might have to sue their landlord or management company – again, something that renters insurance might not cover. Remember, personal property protection doesn’t cover damages due to bed bugs and liability protection only covers expenses related to claims and lawsuits filed against the policyholder.
The best thing a tenant can do is be proactive in deterring bed bugs and, if they find them in their home, getting rid of them as soon as possible.
The easiest thing to do is to keep an eye out for them – bed bugs are brown, flat, oval-shaped insects about the size of an apple seed. They are usually in mattress seams, sheets and other areas near human hosts. But they might be on office chairs, pets or furniture and can latch onto and travel anywhere.
If you happen to find a bed bug, vacuuming and throwing them away in a tightly sealed bag then them washing bed sheets in hot water should get rid of them. In extreme cases, or if they persistently appear, you should call an exterminator.
General rules to follow for an efficient and fire hazard free dryer:
1. Clean the lint trap screen after each dryer cycle.
2. Wash the lint trap screen after 20-30 loads. Let it air dry before replacing.
3. Use a vacuum hose to suck out any remaining lint inside the dryer where the lint trap is stored.
Although few outside the profession may understand what we do and how we do it, the basic facts remain unchanged: Property Managers play a critical role in a landlord’s success. As the rental market grows increasingly tumultuous, property managers toil quietly and efficiently behind the scenes to come up with solutions to problems that the average landlord doesn’t understand or even know he has.
Hello tenants, we have a new contest for you to get excited about! The Bev Roberts Rentals family is bringing to you a chance to embrace your creativity with the Festive Decorating Contest!
What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of fall? Is it spooky spiders for Halloween, is it pumpkins and falling leaves for Autumn, or is team spirit for football season? Whatever that is, send us your photo portraying your festive indoor or outdoor decorating! The winning resident receives a $50 Visa Gift Card! Please read the above flyer for more details.
The contest officially starts October 1, 2016. Winner will be chosen on November 30, 2016!
Q: Dear Mr. Reno:
My tenants lease will expired the end of May. I do not wish to renew the lease, planning on remodeling. What would you recommend. I anticipate that the tenant may be difficult.
A: I would notify them as soon as possible, that their lease will not be renewed. Also, review your lease carefully about what notice, if any, is required and how to give it. But even if no notice is required, I strongly recommend it.
The Landlord Protection Agency’s “Ask the Attorney” column is for informational purposes only. The questions answered by Mr. Reno on this site do not constitute an attorney – client relationship and are not to be considered legal advice. Not all questions will be answered and some may appear in the LPA Q&A Forum.
The Landlord Protection Agency recommends that you seek legal advice before using any of the material offered on this web site, and makes no guarantee on the effectiveness, compliance with local laws or success of any of the material offered on this web site. The Landlord Protection Agency is not engaged in rendering legal advice.