By Neil Fjellestad and Chris De Marco
When we take over management of a property with a nagging problem like an uncooperative resident, vacancy or uncollected rent we visit the property and make a detailed inspection of physical conditions, we review the lease documentation as well as communication throughout the lease term and why there has not been required confrontation to resolve the specific issue(s). This process is very revealing when conducted by experienced professionals. Often we unravel one or more issues where the renter(s) are not listened to and therefore, feel justified in holding back rent. Once this has been allowed and the rent money has been spent elsewhere there is lack of ability to catch up. This underlying reality creates more disincentives to confronting and resolving outstanding rent payment. Left unchecked this situation will become a legal hassle for the rental owner and a long-term financial burden for the renter. Sometimes the property is left vacant and damaged.
Obviously, clear leasing documentation is important. Mutual understanding of what is to be expected from the renter, the owner and the property management company is imperative. For this reason, we conduct a detailed review of each application followed by a paragraph-by-paragraph discussion of the lease before approval and move-in.
During this conversation we mention the importance of the renters communicating their concerns upon move-in, being prompt with requests for service and pro-active if and when there is a problem with monthly rent being on time. We recommend that an ounce of prevention can usually avoid surprises and pain. This is a conversation that we have with every resident that we put into a lease. One ounce of prevention is renter insurance. Another is to review their lease about changes in roommates, pet change-outs and additions; additional family members occupying the rental home for a period longer than two weeks. Another is early reporting of neighbor conflicts over parking, noise, aggressive animals and property damages. In the rental business, no surprise is a good surprise.