Dealing with even the most ideal tenants in the world can be time consuming and stressful. Part of owning a rental property is making sure that your tenants are happy and your investment is protected. However, it’s not possible to babysit your tenants every minute of the day to make sure everything is staying clean (even a Fort Worth residential property management company wouldn’t do that), and you can’t expect a professional cleaning level from people with busy lives and families. That’s why we’ve compiled some ideas for you on how to best deal with untidy tenants and improve the landlord-tenant relationship. At Specialized Fort Worth, we have over 30 years of experience and have encountered every kind of situation. We’ll help you look at your property as a business investment and focus on making the most money while helping your property stay clean and your tenants happy.
Set Clear and Realistic Expectations
Most lease agreements are simple-a property owner provides the home and a tenant agrees to pay rent for that home. Added in are the rules and regulations governing that basic agreement. Enlist the help of a Fort Worth property manager to make sure you’ve covered everything you need to for legal protection. Included in those rules should be a clear list of expectations regarding the behavior of the tenant and cleanliness of the property. Some agreements may need to be altered to fit a specific situation or tenant, but with clear communication and respect, property owners and tenants should be able to reach an understood consensus. If either party wishes to terminate a lease agreement for one reason or another, this can be achieved in three basic ways:
- A Lease Agreement Expires
- Tenant and Landlord Agree to Terminate the Lease
- Landlord or Tenant Break Terms of Agreement
Difficult tenants are one thing, but dirty tenants can actually hurt your profits because leasing out dirty or damaged properties is extremely difficult. By using a Fort Worth property manager like Specialized Fort Worth to properly screen your tenants, you have a better chance at avoiding dirty situations all together. However, some tenants that seem responsible and tidy at first, may slack off and leave your property in disarray over time. Property owners aren’t allowed to claim that a tenant is untidy unless they have reason to believe they are violating health or fire codes, or causing damage to the property, other people, or themselves. Some examples of dirty tenant situations that would qualify are:
- Mold growth
- Animal feces outside of a litter box
- Garbage that is over one week old
- Signs of rodents or roaches
- Unsafe chemicals in or around the property
- Rotten food or dirty dishes that are never cleaned
- Junk blocking the furnace intake and preventing air circulation
If your property has encountered any of the above, action needs to be taken immediately. This is something that Fort Worth residential property management can take care of for you if you don’t have the time or energy. If you’ve stated cleanliness terms in your lease, you can mandate those terms to your tenant. An example would be having your lease state that the tenant must hire a monthly maid service. If it’s not included in your lease, you can tell tenants to leave at the end of their lease. If they fail to clean when it’s time to leave, hire a cleaning company and deduct the money spent from their security deposit. This should be stated in your lease agreement.
Teach Them How to Clean
Some tenants are untidy simply because they’ve never been taught how to clean. Picking up could be their definition of cleanliness while yours is deep cleaning the baseboards and the bathtub. Make sure tenants know what you expect by laying it out clearly in the lease agreement and by physically showing them. A Fort Worth property manager has your property’s best interest at heart and will take the time to show tenants what’s expected of them to keep the property looking its best. If you take the opportunity to teach them how to clean in a patient, non-condescending way, you may protect your property and help someone learn a skill they’ll use for the rest of their life.
If it’s more than just a cleanliness issue and there is stuff piled up throughout the property, your tenant may have a hoarding disorder. Fort Worth residential property management understands that hoarding disorders are real mental disorders that can dangerous conditions. Those affected by this disorder struggle with “extreme anxiety or depression that prevents them from getting rid of anything they have collected in their home. As a result, they develop an extreme emotional attachment to their belongings and allow them to build up to a dangerous level. Because hoarding disorder is officially recognized by the American Psychiatric Association, it is considered a disability. This means that hoarders are protected under the federal Fair Housing Act and landlords must try to reasonably help and accommodate the affected individuals before they can resort to eviction.”
How to handle a hoarder tenant is a difficult and sensitive question that many property owners face. The first step is to make sure that your lease agreement carefully outlines your expectations for your property and clearly states that clutter cannot build up for health and safety reasons. If you’re not sure how to set expectations while complying with the Fair Housing Act, ask an experienced Fort Worth property manager, like Specialized Fort Worth.
Helping a Hoarder Tenant
If your tenant needs professional help to clean and restore the home, as well as help from a social worker or psychologist to heal mentally and emotionally, you may be responsible as the property owner.
- Talk to them: Discuss with them what they can do to help themselves first. Explain the risks to their safety and health and start with simple tasks like clearing walkways and throwing away garbage. Be patient with them and show compassion.
- Make a written plan: Writing out a specific cleaning process can help the tenant. Start with simple tasks and gradually introduce larger ones to clear out clutter.
- Involve professionals: Most hoarders don’t think that they have a problem. Hire counseling professionals to help the hoarder face their disorder and receive treatment. Professionals can also provide hoarding clean up services to thoroughly clean and restore the home. Keep track of what you do and the expenses involved.
If a tenant refuses to comply with the above actions, you may need to turn to eviction. Consult with a lawyer or our legal team at Specialized Fort Worth, Fort Worth’s residential property management company, to make sure that you aren’t breaking your lease contract or legal regulations.
How to Have a Positive Relationship with Tenants
Fort Worth residential property management companies understand that when tenants and neighbors have a respectful relationship, the whole community benefits. Studies show that neighbors with good relationships make communities safer. Sadly, neighbors disagree sometimes, and so do tenants and property owners. When this happens between you and a tenant or one of your tenants and a neighbor, it can create tension or even disrupt the peace. Fort Worth property managers can reduce tension with tenants and between tenants and their neighbors with the right skills and experience.
- Clear Communication— It’s obvious that landlords and tenants need to have good communication. Don’t forget to include the neighbors in the loop, especially if something about your property directly impacts them.
- Thorough Tenant Screening Process— Placing quality tenants in your rental is the best way to avoid problems down the road. The best way to find those quality tenants is to screen tenant applications carefully.
- Noise Caused by Tenants— Fort Worth residential property management companies will tell you that noise from rentals is the fastest way to create tension with neighbors. Noise policies are explained before a tenant moves in and need to be strictly enforced.
- Property Upkeep and Care— Keeping a property looking nice always helps with neighborhood relations. Regular inspections should be conducted by your property management company. Fort Worth HOA communities may also have maintenance policies that need to be followed.
- Attentive Management— When Fort Worth residential property management companies proactively take care of tenants and property, neighbors will feel more comfortable about having a rental unit in the neighborhood.
With all the details involved in a landlord-tenant relationship and dealing with untidy or unruly tenants, it’s crucial that property owners seek professional help from Fort Worth property managers. Specialized Property Management in Fort Worth, TX has over 30 years experience working with lease agreements and tenants. With our 98% customer satisfaction rating, you can rest assured that we care about what we do and are committed to keeping owners and tenants happy with their rental experience. Visit our website today and see the difference we can make with your lease options and high quality tenant retention. Avoid mistakes and stay ahead of the property management game by putting our proven processes and expert team to work for you.