Dealing with Lease Violations

By Ashley Paskill on September 15, 2023

No matter how hard you try and how foolproof your screening process seems, there may still be times when your tenants violate their lease. This can happen for a variety of reasons, but it is still something that needs to be discussed. Addressing issues before they escalate will help you maintain control over the situation and leave all parties satisfied with the outcome.

Be understanding

While some lease violations happen because the tenants may not be the right fit for the property, other lease violations may arise due to financial hardship or unforeseen roommate issues beyond the control of the tenants. When these situations arise, try to be as understanding as possible and communicate with the tenants to work on rectifying the situation. In these cases, the tenant who is struggling to pay rent or is dealing with a difficult roommate is trying their best to juggle the situation along with other responsibilities, especially if they are in college.

Be prepared

Preparation is key for preventing potential lease violations. When writing out your lease, ensure that everything is spelled out clearly. Include as much detail as possible, making sure everything needed is included. Be sure that tenants will not be able to find any loopholes within the lease as this will cause them to potentially violate a rule you have that was not distinctly in the lease. Have a thorough screening process that includes references and a background check. Be strict during the screening process and do not let your standards for tenants drop just to have someone who is paying rent. These things will help ensure that you limit your chances of lease violations based on a tenant’s history.

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Communication is crucial

When lease violations arise, be open and firm in your communication with tenants. Again, be understanding, but make sure you are able to get the severity of the lease violation across in your communication. The lease is a legally binding document, so keeping communication open when it comes to questions and concerns regarding the lease is important. Be sure that your tenants know how and when they can reach you and be sure to reach out in a timely manner if you are unable to respond right away or pick up a call. Consider having multiple forms of communication in case one does not work for the tenants and be sure to check in with all of these methods regularly.

Keep emotions out of it

Lease violations can be upsetting and stressful, especially if you are someone who does not like dealing with conflict and bringing up issues with tenants. However, it is important to put your emotions to the side and stick with the facts of the situation. Be sure that you are aware of the specific violation that the tenant is violating and know exactly where it is in the lease. The tenant may not see where they are at fault or may not like being called out. However, it is crucial that you stick to your reasoning and deal with the violation quickly and professionally.

Be fair

It is crucial that you are fair with every tenant, not just the ones who are breaking the lease. Do not tolerate the behaviors of one just because you are more like friends with them. When dealing with tenants, it is important to be professional and maintain boundaries. The rules apply to each and every tenant, whether you are close friends or not. It is not fair to let one tenant get away with a lease violation and evict another tenant for that same violation. Avoid playing favorites with tenants.

Work with the tenant if possible

In some instances, a tenant may be forced to violate the lease due to unforeseen circumstances. Their roommate may need to move out, causing them to have to pay for the entirety of the rent and utilities. This may lead to financial hardship and they may be late paying rent. In other circumstances, they may have to move home to deal with family issues. Unfortunately, these are not situations that may have come up in the past with the tenants and no screening can prevent these issues. Whatever may come up, if they come to you and are open and honest with what is going on, be patient and understanding. See if there are ways you can help them get through the situation and make it work for the both of you. If not, be clear as to what needs to happen but be cordial. Help them out to the best of your ability, whether that means cutting them a break on their rent, helping them find a new roommate or subletter, or even helping them move to a new apartment.

Lease violations can be challenging situations, but keep in mind that they are not always a tenant’s fault. Dealing with these situations quickly and professionally will help you move through the situation without making things worse for all involved.

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