Smoking can be a very touchy subject to some people. This is especially true when it comes to the right to smoke in their own homes. While some states have introduced laws which restrict the places people can smoke based upon the presence of children, there are no such laws that I am aware of which restrict the ability to smoke within your own home. What happens when it isn't your home, though? This is where the case of smoking tenants versus landlords can come into play, and it often isn't pretty. While many smokers are considerate about their usage, there are unfortunately some that do not understand why others want nothing to do with it. While I won't go into some of the frankly horrible interactions I have had with these types of smokers, I will say that when it comes to having them in a rental property or apartment building it really can be a messy situation. At the root of the situation, the decision is yours. It is your property and if you state that you do not want your resident smoking in it, then that's that. However, sometimes people will smoke anyway. What do you do in this situation? Well, one thing that we always suggest is to have a clause in the lease similar to a hotel room that is non-smoking. State that if someone is found smoking or there is probable cause to believe that smoking has gone on in the apartment, a fine will be charged to the resident(s). This is something that will hopefully discourage anyone from going behind your back and filling the area with smoke. While allowing smoking in your building may allow a wider range of people to rent from you, you will need to think long term. Smoke can seep into wood and walls and can cause a smell to reappear years down the line, especially when the temperature warms up quickly. I periodically have to open all of my cabinets and air them out because the last resident in my apartment smoked heavily and the smell was trapped. There is more to allowing smoking than just what is happening in the moment. While it is your choice, make sure that you have thought of the outcome of each decision before settling on whether you allow smoking or not.
Cash for keys is a concept which is hotly debated around landlord and property investment circles, however we wanted to educate you on this idea. The whole point of cash for keys is to avoid the process of an eviction. This is because the process is expensive and time consuming. Not only are you losing money by having to pay an attorney to evict your tenant, but you are not able to move anyone else into the apartment until they have left which means you are likely losing out on money hand over fist. This is how it works. The first thing you would do in a cash for keys situation is explain to your tenant what is happening. Explain that you want them to move out and if they do not, you will evict them. Let them know how an eviction can harm them in the future and explain that it will likely be expensive for both of you. This is why you will pay them a certain amount to move out now. This amount can be whatever you decide, however it is often suggested that somewhere around $400 or $500 will do the trick. Next, explain that you want the apartment cleaned and any repairs done or paid for by the time they are ready to leave. Let them know what date you want them gone by. Make sure that you give them enough time to get everything out, but not too much so that they could do more damage. Always give them a notice, as this would be the first step in an eviction as well. Keep a copy for yourself. Once they have moved their things out and cleaned, go in to inspect the property with them to make sure it is in the condition you asked. Take pictures of how it looks. Now all you need to do is have them sign paperwork that states that they are officially moved out and you can hand over whatever amount of money you agreed to pay them. While this may seem odd to pay someone to leave your own property, it is often much cheaper than going through the full eviction process and helps your tenant out as well. Let us know what you think about this concept and if you have ever used it.
When you have a rental property, it is very different from owning your own home. When you live in your own home you can make upgrades whenever you want, clean as much as you feel is necessary, and keep everything looking the way you want it to. A rental property, however, is generally at the mercy of your tenant. Not everyone has the same idea of what "clean" is or how important it is to keep things looking a certain way. This is when it is important to come up with some ideas of how to keep your apartment looking nice from tenant to tenant. Flooring is arguably the most important thing about a rental space. It is always used, always touched in one way or another, and will always get dirty. For this reason, many landlords prefer to put down hardwood flooring to carpet. Carpet can, and does, stain even with accidental spills or forgetting to wipe the mud off of your boots as you come running in from a storm. If you must use carpet, we suggest a darker color to not show so much dirt. We also suggest finding another option for the kitchen, bathroom, entry area, or laundry room if your rental property has one. Tile or laminate flooring is a favorite of many and is relatively easy to keep clean with minimal effort. Making sure things are installed correctly is something that is incredibly important. If you are looking to add curtain rods or shelving, then we always suggest finding a stud in the wall to anchor it if possible. If you find that your previous tenant had hung something and tore part of the drywall out, be sure to replace it correctly and not with filler and paint. The next tenant may want to hang something in the same place only to have it fail and cause more damage to your walls. This is something that your new tenant should not be punished for, but it is something that needs to be fixed. Unless you have a horrible tenant, the upkeep between residents should be minimal each time you have someone new move in. A fresh coat of paint or maybe some new blinds should really be the extent of your repairs. Always be sure to keep things nice and bright for your new residents.
As a landlord, you are obviously going to be interested mostly in long term, reliable tenants. This is completely understandable, as a high tenant turnover rate will generally end up costing you more money than it gets you. Having vacancies is the worst non-tragic thing that can happen to a landlord in regards to their investment property and so you will want to avoid this as much as possible. Sometimes, however, you will get a tenant who asks to be able to break their lease. This would mean they would leave before the previously agreed upon time. While some reasons are flimsy at best, there are a few times that you should at least consider allowing a tenant to get out of the contract early. One of the most common reasons a lease is broken is because of a change in employment. Many times a tenant will lose their job and it hardly matters if it was their fault or not. Other times they are transferred and cannot say no to the relocation for a multitude of reasons. While this is an unfortunate situation for both of you, the tenant obviously cannot continue to make payments if they are unemployed and they should not have to pay rent on two different locations if they are only living in one. This is especially true of those in the military, as they can be relocated at a moment's notice. Extreme circumstances are another time that you should consider allowing your tenant to break their lease. If there was a death in the family, many people will want to move to either get away from the memories or get closer to those they still have left. Sometimes people need to move in with ageing parents to help take care of them. Disabilities are another circumstance that may be unforeseen and need accommodations that you cannot provide. Sometimes horrible things happen in our lives and your tenants are no different in that regard. While some landlords are adamantly against breaking leases, there are certain situations in which it is understandable why a tenant would want to get out of the contract early. Always remember that your tenant is human just like you are and sometimes these things unfortunately need to happen.
Picture this: you have gone through the complete tenant screening process and have found the perfect fit for your apartment. Let's say it's a single woman in her late twenties who has a cat but is quiet, respectful, and has a wonderful steady job. You agree on and sign a lease for a year, but in four months she meets the person she things may just be "the one". She asks this special someone to spend the night every now and then which is fine, but then this person gets a drawer of stuff to leave at the apartment. Then that drawer becomes a full dresser and before you know it the apartment you signed for one person suddenly has two living in it. What are you to do? Is there anything you could have done to avoid this situation in the first place? Let's see what your options are. One of the first things you should know is that it is illegal in many states to ask someone if they are in a relationship during the interview process. If this is the case (or even if it isn't and you simply don't want to know the details), you can always ask if there will likely be someone staying in the apartment with them for a certain amount of time. Explain that anyone who stays more than three or four nights a week (or month) is considered a tenant by your lease and must be screened as well. This can help prevent you from finding out that there have been two people living in the place when you were under the impression that there would only be one. This is something that should be backed up by your lease. Include a clause that states that anyone found to be living in the apartment for a certain amount of days per month is also considered a tenant and will also have to pay rent. You may even want to explain that this may be terms for termination of the lease. At the end of the day, it is up to you how you feel like handling this situation but you want to be able to have all of your bases covered. You certainly don't want to be caught off guard with a squatter of any kind.