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When Tenants Behave Badly

Property managers and landlords everywhere have issues when they have tenants who behave badly. Bad behavior can be many things. Not paying rent on time. Being nasty to other tenants who share common areas. Leaving common areas a mess; not picking up after themselves. Causing intentional damage to the property. Violating their leases. Storing hazardous chemicals in an unacceptable manner. Sneaking in animals and leaving the property infested with fleas. Allowing the property to become infested with bedbugs or lice. Illegally disposing of hazardous materials in company-provided dumpsters. Installing washers or dryers in violation of lease. The list is endless. So what’s to be done?

I would recommend using the same type of disciplinary system that works for employees. You should formally communicate with your tenants when they are in violation of their lease agreements. Most agreements have language that addresses all the above issues. Get a signed acknowledgement from your tenants that they agree on what the problem is and what they will do to fix it. When the corrective action doesn’t happen, further steps need to be taken, up to and including eviction. Have a clear understanding of the eviction laws in your state before you suggest such action to your tenants. If it gets to this level, I would also recommend consulting with a lawyer who specializes in leases.

As with employees, the more due diligence you do in the pre-employment or the pre-signing-of-the-lease process, the better you are. When a robust process is followed and references are checked thoroughly, there are fewer surprises on the other side after the tenant has moved in. Other challenges arise when you purchase a facility that already has tenants. Since it is too late for the due diligence, you have to start with the disciplinary actions when tenants behave in ways that you find inappropriate or that are clear violations of their leases.

For help with establishing these robust processes, please give HR Compliance 101 a call. We can help.

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