Anyone involved in the rental space will tell you they have more than their fair share of bizarre tenant/ property manager stories. There’s always going to be examples of conflict and uncertainty when it comes to property management responsibilities, who is responsible for what and whos right and whos wrong.
It’s not glamorous, but if you want to have success as a property manager, it’s essential that you understand what is and isn’t your responsibility.
Laws, policies, and regulations vary from city to city. So it should be noted that you need to research your state and cities laws before you take action.
Here are the top 4 most disputed property management responsibilities.
Security Deposit/ Bond
Once a lease has ended, landlords and property managers are responsible for returning security deposits. Predominantly this is within 10-45 days from the scheduled move-out date. Obviously, this changes depending on which state, city or country you reside in as there is no universal code that landlords or property managers must follow.
The purpose of a security deposit is to protect the landlord, property manager and asset owner against any damage that may occur when the property has tenants in it.
When a dispute occurs over whether or not the tenant should get their deposit back, the legal system will settle the dispute. As a property manager facing a dispute, it’s best that you understand your cities laws regarding security deposits. Follow the advised steps and document all actions relating to the security deposit before presenting it to a judge.
If you are a tenant and your property manager is withholding your deposit from you for failed rental payment or damage costs, you similarly need to document your side of the story, and every action you take that relates to the issue. Once you have all the required paperwork, your dispute will be assessed by a judge in court.
Eviction/ Lease termination
From time to time tenants will break a lease for a variety of reasons. From having secret pets to fighting with fellow tenants, you need to follow your cities specific laws.
When you terminate a lease or evict a tenant, anticipate that further issues will emerge. Such as if they need to cover rental payment up until a new tenant moves in. In most cases, the lease termination process is in the terms and conditions of the lease itself.
If you are the landlord serving the lease termination you should consider the following when doing so:
- Have the lease in writing
- Include signature of the landlord and or property manager
- State the date the notice is served
- Clearly, state the reason for the tenancy termination
- Include the date in which the tenant must vacate the property by
Remember, these are just examples of details you should include on your lease termination notice. SnapInspect suggests checking with a real estate attorney in your area for guidance on what you must include in the message.
Damage is often the most sensitive topic when it comes to who is responsible for it. Every case is different and can become both confusing and frustrating when parties disagree.
The widespread understanding is that the leaseholder is only responsible for damage that they have inflicted, and general wear and tear is the property managers responsibility. The hardest part is distinguishing what normal wear and tear is seen as and what would be the tenant’s fault.
Tenant Damage Responsibilities:
- Broken windows (Or anything else broken by the tenant for that matter)
- Stains on the carpet
- Pet Damage
- Unapproved D.I.Y jobs
Wear and tear damage that is the property managers responsibility:
- Fading paint/carpet
- Broken light-bulbs
- Amenity maintenance
SnapInspect suggests that you go over what you consider wear and tear and what you consider tenant damage in your lease and in person with the new tenant.
It’s essential that you clarify the difference to your future tenant to ensure there are no complications down the track.
Property managers must ensure that the property provided is habitable for their tenants. This means that the property must be safe and not expose the tenants to any health risks, e.g., mold. Plumbing, electricity, and heating must all be in order and up to scratch. Doors and windows must open and close correctly, and the structure of the property needs to be sound.
Hopefully, being obliged to provide an adequate living standard for your tenants is not news to most property managers. However, failing to maintain your property to a live-able standard can mean that you become subject to hefty legal battles which can slow down business.
Check what the standards are for your area and make sure you are abiding by all of them. For further confirmation that your property maintains a livable standard, you may want to seek the guidance of a professional.
You can learn something from every interaction you have with your tenants, whether it’s what worked well or what didn’t. In 2019 it pays to be a proactive landlord rather than reactive.
Protect you and your business by ensuring the correct procedures are in place for your tenants. Remember, every city is different, make sure you are fully aware of your city’s laws and guidelines.
Outline and discuss everything with your tenants. Grey areas only cause headaches and legal battles later down the track.