You would be unrealistic to assume that renting nice property to an accomplished, responsible tenant will result in a problem-free rental period. Potential tenant problems may involve:
- Disputes among multiple tenants or with other neighbors
- Rental payments routinely paid after the due date (or not at all)
- Additional residents and/or pets added subsequently
- Use of rental property for illegal purposes.
Your property manager should maintain a file on each tenant and document all issues that arise. Documenting the problems, dates, people involved, as well as keeping copies of all related communications will prove useful should you ultimately need to process an eviction notice. In addition, possessing such information may dissuade your tenant from fighting any such action.
If possible, your property manager should attempt to solve the issue before starting the eviction process. Options include:
- Meeting the tenant(s) in person to discuss the issue and potential issues identified;
- Notifying the tenant(s) in writing regarding the basis of your concern, required changes, and subsequent steps if requested changes are not made.
- Using a professional mediator to negotiate an agreement. Making tenants aware that an eviction can impact their credit rating for years may motivate them to leave on good terms. For additional information regarding the California mediation process, visit: http://www.dca.ca.gov/consumer/mediation_programs.shtml
Regardless of the specifics of the problem, the starting point for dealing with bad tenants is to know the rules of your lease and the law. Ensure your rental agreement includes:
- how and when rent is to be paid (including late fee charges),
- activities that are prohibited on rental property, and
- a catch-all phrase disallowing any noise or activity on the premises which might disturb the peace and quiet of another tenant or neighbor.
Dealing with Destructive or Criminal Tenants
If a tenant is doing any kind of illegal activity on your property, you, as the owner, need to evict the tenant as soon as possible. If you are charged with knowingly allowing illegal activities to occur on your property, you could potentially face:
- fines or criminal penalties for permitting the illegal actions to continue,
- confiscation of your property by the government, or
- negative financial consequences such as a drop in property value, loss of good tenants, and/or a lawsuit noting that your property constitutes a public nuisance.
A tenant who has used the rental building or property for an unlawful purpose need only be provided a written 3-day Notice to Quit, which requires immediate eviction from the premises without providing the tenant any ability to remedy the breach.
While the use of a lawyer to evict a tenant is not required, a local attorney with experience in such cases could well be worth the cost overall.