The vast majority of tenants are excellent. They pay their rent on time, maintain the property as if it were their own place and do not cause any problems for neighbors or other tenants. There are always a few that experience life changing events that sometimes can make it difficult for them to meet their obligations. Health issues and job loss are some of the more significant reasons tenants miss payments. Then there are the tenants who are problem tenants who can make the life of an owner miserable. This post will discuss some of these issues and approaches to dealing with these problem tenants.
Being Reasonable and Understanding
Sometimes the right approach is to be reasonable and understanding. If you have an excellent long term tenant who just lost their job and are actively looking for another you might give them some leeway. Losing an otherwise good tenant through eviction may cost you more money in the long run. Evictions can take a long time in Maryland, costing you serious money. It is a fine line that landlords must follow. Problem tenants may try to take advantage of these situations. We’ve all experienced these manipulative tenants. I can promise that weeding them out does get better as you gain more experience.
Maintain Rental Payment Policies
The rental agreement that both parties signed when they moved in is there for a reason. It should cover among other things what happens if a rent payment is late or missed. It should describe what action will be taken and what penalties may be implemented. It can be difficult for landlords to try to collect from a single mom with small children who has missed the last rental payment. Never the less, communication is very important in these situations and deciding what action to take can be difficult even if you are following the rental agreement.
Keep Documentation on Everything
Any time there is a conversation the interaction should be recorded and saved. Make sure you include the date, the time, the parties involved and what was discussed and any decisions or actions that may have been agreed to. Save your texts, emails and any written material. Even if you have the best tenant ever, there may come a time when it will be valuable to have notes you can refer to on a specific subject that was discussed and / or agreed to.
Find an Experienced Maryland Property Manager
Many landlords are too busy, in another city or just not comfortable interacting with tenants and dealing with conflict over rent collection and damages. This is where professional property managers can fill the gap and provide a service that is professional and business like in dealing with tenants. Hire a property manager who has the experience and reputation for providing quality services. They are also familiar with all of the local and state laws protecting tenants. Real estate agents are also a good source of information.
They will be responsible for collecting the rent as well as screening potential tenants, deal with maintenance issues, hire repair technicians if needed, advertise your rental if needed and deal with tenant issues and complaints. If eviction is necessary, they can manage the process as well. There is a fee for these services of course, however the time and headaches they can save may be worth it for many owners.
Evicting Tenants in Maryland
The laws governing the eviction process and tenant rights vary from state to state. in Maryland you must have a very good reason to ask them to move, e.g. broken the lease, behind in their rental payments etc. As the landlord you cannot change the locks or remove the tenant’s belongings without a court order in most states. Make sure you have followed the proper process and have excellent documentation so that the courts have no choice but to rule in your favor.
Formal notice of eviction should be sent by registered mail and a copy placed in their mailbox. In Maryland you need to be able to prove the eviction notice was received. Once the eviction notice has been received and the courts have approved the eviction, if the tenant still will not move, the local sheriff may have to get involved.
Careful screening is paramount to avoid problem tenants in Maryland, but remember we all events in our lives that sometimes make it difficult to meet all of our obligations.
Sell Your Rental for Cash
If you are dealing with bad tenants and just want out of the landlord business, sometimes selling the unit to a professional property buyer might be the answer. They will purchase the unit as is, with whatever damage has been done to the unit and they will deal with the tenant. Months of anguish and stress can be eliminated with a quick cash sale to an investor.