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Resolve Tenancy Disputes Without Going Through Eviction Process
Nobody likes to be seen as a bad evil person. But no matter how careful you are at screening tenants, you will run into problematic landlord-tenant relationships once in a while. These situations can range from the loving couple breaking up leaving only 1 tenant who cannot afford your ridiculous rents, to a suspicious tenant who you have a feeling is dealing with underworld stuff.
These are serious situations. You might have built a great relationship with your tenants over time, but you are ultimately running a business an it is your responsibility to protect your investments. Your family lifestyle depends on your success. You must take action to enforce the terms and conditions stated in the tenancy agreements. Failure will mean that one party has to leave the table. And it sure as hell is not going to be you.
You must already have communicated that you are someone who means business from the first meeting with the tenant. First impressions matter. You can be a nice guy. But you have to be firm and solid when mentioning about terms of the lease. Being too flexible during initial discussions will only open the path for tenants to take advantage of you in future. For example, if the terms of your lease states that the tenant can only take up 1 parking lot and you find 2 on your property, either the extra car goes or the tenant goes. That is being firm.
As a landlord, your biggest shotgun is eviction. Some people may like the process of eviction to feel powerful. But property investors who have seen it all knows that eviction is a costly and tiring process that uses litigation to coerce someone to leave the place they call home. It is not only detrimental to your pockets, but also to your mental state as well. If both parties are reasonable adults trying to make a living for themselves, surely there must be a little but of space where they can find common ground.
Putting things into perspective, eviction is the last thing you want to do unless you have too much time on your hands and you have tried all avenues to resolve a dispute. You might have avoided all this if you had conducted a comprehensive background check in the first place. But it is not time to dwell on the past. You must now focus on the task on hand.
Remember that your objective as an investor is to avoid vacancies and continue to receive cheques from tenants who pay promptly. Tenants know this. So you must also make them believe that you are radical enough to ignite the eviction process.
There are many reasons why landlords and tenants get into disputes. But any issues can almost always be within one of these 3 problems.
- Tenants have not been paying you
- Some terms that you hold dearly in the tenancy agreement have been breached
- The lease period has expired and you wish to reclaim your property
Among these stated problems, the most urgent one is not receiving your rentals. You need cash to run your business and you have already made financial commitments based on the projections of your receivables. 1 property alone can totally derail your whatever plans that you might have. But the problems that usually cause you the biggest headaches and requires the most of your intervention is when tenants breach your terms of lease.
The key reasons that causes these terms to be breached usually is caused by misinterpretation. The fun with the English language is that different individuals even from the same culture can have different interpretations on the same words. You might feel that your tenants are violating the terms of lease while they might find that you are not going with accordance to the terms as well. A tenant may feel that withholding payments to your rental is justified since you did not follow through on agreements on the lease. Meanwhile, you were not aware that you had something to follow through in the first place! These issues are caused by misinterpretation.
Here are some things you can do to avoid going through with the dreaded eviction
Notices. The best way to solve disputes is to prevent them in the first place. This can be done by giving out notices on what is happening and what will be happening in and around their homes. This could be as simple as sending messages in advance of housekeeping, pest control activities, repairs, etc. Keep communications open while reminding tenants on the tenancy agreement terms.
Chat. Very often, the most innocent messages can be misinterpret as hostility because messages are just text. As communication is 93% non-verbal, people can take your messages word-for-word perceiving a tone of hostility. A simple phone call can usually be a quick fix to a simple dispute. For more serious matters, a face-to-face meet up can be more effective. Agreements and compromise can be made immediately on the spot with meets ups. Just remember to follow up with actions on agreements made.
Writing. When you are unable to solve your disputes amicably, It may be time to serve a “Notice of Demand”. This is basically the first step towards eviction. If your tenant does not take you seriously beforehand, serving this notice will definitely get the tenant’s attention. Sometimes tenants do not know how real you are being and will compromise when they do realise that you mean business. When a tenant pays the overdue rent within the “demand period”, you as the landlord cannot proceed with eviction.
Check with lawyers
Whenever you are unsure, check with your lawyer on what you can and cannot do. They will be your best friends during this period of time. They will also be able to advise you on the proper way to proceed with eviction. Remember that you cannot force you way into your house, go berserk smashing stuff and man-handling your tenants out of your property. Never lock out your tenants and never enter your property without proper legal authority. Don’t threaten, don’t swear, don’t get angry, don’t do anything that is illegal. This is part and parcel of the property game.
Since going to court is now a real possibility, keep a record log of everything that is going on if you don’t already practice that. Details to record down in your log book include date, time, communication method, reasons for communication, order of events, conversations concerning the dispute, other people who are witnesses of events. Records hold more weight than oral conversations in the eyes of the law. It’s not too much to ask for to just get yourself prepared