Renting out a Grand Rapids home, you expect you’re going to place tenants who will comply with the lease agreement and meet all the requirements that are set forth there. This is a binding legal document that has been signed by all parties. You’ve screened your tenants to ensure you’re placing responsible, dependable residents.
The lease is specific and detailed for a reason. It’s there to protect you and your property. It’s also in place to protect your tenants. If your lease agreement is not consistently enforced, you run the risk of a difficult tenancy. Boundaries will be crossed and tenants will begin to believe they can get away with anything.
That’s not a good precedent for you to set, and it’s especially not good for your property.
Enforce and Reinforce the Lease with Good Communication
When you screen and approve a resident and you begin talking about the move-in date and all the procedures they’ll have to follow, you’ll also discuss and sign the lease agreement. This is an important opportunity to highlight the most important parts of that document. You can spend some time talking about:
- Rent collection and the importance of timely rent payments
- Maintenance reporting and the importance of submitting repair requests right away
- Rules around pets and smoking and guests
- HOA rules and regulations, if applicable.
Encourage your new tenants to spend some time with the lease so you can be sure they understand it. With a well-screened tenant and a solid tenant relationship, you should expect no trouble or problems with lease violations.
But, people can sometimes be unpredictable depending on what’s going on in their lives.
How can you be sure that your tenant is complying with your lease agreement?
The best way to be certain is to schedule diligent inspections. You want to be respectful of your tenant’s privacy, but you also want to be sure that there aren’t any lease violations to worry about.
Routine and Preventative Maintenance Inspections
Be proactive with routine and preventative maintenance. This will give you a reason to get inside the property and take a look around in a way that’s not invasive or even a scheduled inspection.
Responding to maintenance and repair needs right away does two important things:
- It protects the condition of your investment
- It keeps your tenants happy
There’s a third benefit – responding right away to even minor maintenance requests will give you an opportunity to take a look around the property and make sure your tenants aren’t in violation of their lease terms.
You can do this yourself by meeting maintenance staff at the property. When your tenant reports that a toilet isn’t flushing, for example, you can schedule the plumber and be at the rental property when that plumber shows up. Your tenants can choose to be there or not be there.
While you’re working with the plumber in the bathroom, talk to your tenants if they’re at home. Make sure they’re having a good rental experience and be willing to hear any complaints or concerns they might have. Take a casual look around the property. You’ll notice any glaring lease violations immediately. A box of cat litter, for example, when you don’t allow pets, will let you know that something might be worth exploring.
Maybe you don’t want to be at the property yourself to conduct an informal inspection. In that case, we recommend that you train your vendors to keep their eyes and ears open for anything that might not be permitted. This will require a good relationship with your plumbers and other service providers. You don’t have to task them with taking a detailed look inside every room of the house, but you can ask them to let you know if they notice smoking or too many residents or unauthorized pets or problems with cleanliness.
Conduct Annual Safety Inspections
That’s an easy inspection to conduct when you have a tenant who routinely requests maintenance.
What if there aren’t ever any maintenance requests rolling in at a particular property? This may seem like a good thing; everything is obviously in good shape and your tenants living there aren’t the needy sort.
This can be dangerous, though. With no one else entering the property, you don’t really have any idea what’s going on in there.
So, you write into your lease agreement that you will conduct one safety inspection every year.
The safety inspection, which is documented before your tenants move in, will provide the opportunity to get inside the property even if there hasn’t been any maintenance throughout the tenancy. You can check for deferred and unreported maintenance needs and you can also verify that the property is safe and habitable. More importantly, you can do a quick scan for unauthorized pets or people. You can make sure the lease is being followed.
The Drive-By Inspection
You won’t always be able to get inside the property. That doesn’t mean you can’t take a look at it.
Drive by the rental home once in a while. This is a non-invasive way to put eyes on your property and satisfy yourself that everything looks good. You won’t be able to see any lease violations from the road, of course, but you might notice if there are barking dogs chained to the fence or an abundance of broken-down cars parked on the lawn or window screens and blinds that are torn, bent, and dangling. During a drive by inspection, you might find a good reason to schedule an interior inspection.
Remember to provide adequate notice. Don’t just show up at the property and expect to look around.
The best way to hold your tenants accountable to the lease, of course, is to work with professional Grand Rapids property managers. We can make sure your tenants are treating the property the way you expect them to, and following the lease agreement. We can also answer any questions you have about Grand Rapids property management. Please contact us at Short South Realty Group.