6 Common Lease Violations
While renting is a rewarding enterprise, you won’t always have model tenants. Leases are put in place for a reason – whether it is to maintain the value of a property or keep people safe. When renters decide to break the terms of their contract, landlords may be forced to take action.
In order to learn how to handle lease violations, it can be helpful to familiarize yourself with some of the most common violations.
1. Unauthorized Pets
Four-legged friends can be an important part of the family – but they can also be quite a hassle. This is why many landlords prohibit pets to some degree. Pets can cause damage to the property and annoy neighboring tenants.
2. HOA Conflicts
If your property falls under the jurisdiction of an HOA, renters must stay up to code. These often involve things such as making sure the property is free of trash and limit your external storage.
3. Smoking Indoors
Indoor smoking can be a damaging and dangerous habit. It can discolor home interiors, lead to burns, and leave a lingering odor.
4. Noise Disturbances
While being noisy doesn’t lead to structural damage, it can damage the atmosphere of your living complex. Loud tenants can lead to unhappy neighbors and visits from law enforcement.
5. Long-term Guests
Especially if you offer a flat rate for utilities in your rental agreement, unauthorized, long-term guests can be bad for business. It’s not unusual for a non-renting guest to be overstaying their welcome. Some renters may even take it upon themselves to sublet without your permission. The popularity of services such as Airbnb has made this even more common.
6. Damaging Decorations
While there is nothing wrong with making a living space more personal, some decorating can lead to damage. Something as simple as hanging up a couple of pictures can cause countless holes in the wall.
What to do if a renter breaks a clause in the lease agreement?
The moment a tenant violates a lease, you should begin taking measures to protect yourself. There are different approaches you can take depending on the severity of the violation.
If you notice the violation during the renting period;
- Keep Evidence: Always be sure to save original copies of all of your contracts and get proof of any relevant information. This includes taking photographs of the property before tenants arrived.
- Notify the Tenant: Send a letter to your tenant alerting them of their violation and offer them time (minimum a week) to correct the problem. This is a legal obligation if you decide to take matters further.
- Eviction: When violations aren’t corrected or are continuously repeated, you are within legal grounds to file for an eviction.
If you only recognize the violation (or failure to correct the violation) during the inspection following the end of a contract, you may withhold all or a portion of the security deposit. If the amount is not enough to cover damages, you can consider taking your case to small claims court.
Tradewind Properties is here to help you take the headache out of managing your rental property. As a Tradewind client, your most difficult task is checking your monthly statement. Contact us!
Monitoring and managing utility usage.
If you own a property, you know that managing utility usage can feel like nothing short of a headache at times. Owning an income-based property might make this headache feel like a full-on migraine. With a little bit of planning, knowledge and know-how you don’t have to let utility expenditures balloon out of control.
Troubleshooting a water leak
- A water or plumbing leak is something no one wants to experience; however, they happen. Train yourself, maintenance staff and tenants alike to identify and report things like a dripping faucet or running toilet. Additionally, be on the lookout for paint that is peeling or a musty/wet smell in an area that should be dry. Finally, a spike in the water bill is a pretty good sign there’s a potential leak.
- If you suspect a leak, it’s time to call a professional, but you can potentially confirm a hidden leak by turning off every water fixture, faucet and appliance that uses water (for say six hours or so) and noting whether or not the property’s water meter readings rise during the time these are turned off.
- Living in Minnesota means your heating system is probably working overtime for at least six months of the year, then of course your cooling system has got to kick it into gear. A smart thermostat can be a worthy investment. They are designed to make temperature adjustments based on a resident’s detectable patterns, that way you’re not paying to heat an unoccupied property. Further, you can always fine-tune manually and monitor as necessary so you or your tenants are not surprised with a huge bill.
Efficiencies with energy consumption
- Whether you’re renting your property or not, the efficiency of your utility usage should be high on your priority lists to improve costs. Fortunately, there are both quick and easy ways to reduce costs as well as those that require a little more initial investment.
Installing LED fixtures
- Want an easy win, win? Consider changing old, incandescent lightbulbs to LED. Not only can they cut the electric bill by almost 25 percent, they last almost 10 years requiring much less maintenance.
Upgrading to Energy Star appliances
- If your appliances are old, it might be time for an upgrade. Initial costs of replacing these appliances (think refrigerators, stoves and dishwashers) might seem high, but you’ll save on energy costs and new appliances could help drive more potential renters to your door.
Consider air leaks
- You can probably guess that air leaks are some of the biggest offenders when it comes to energy inefficiencies, but how do you find them? While a visual and physical inspection can easily tell you where your building is leaking air, you can hire a professional to do a thermographic test that uses an infrared camera to locate those more invisible areas of air leaks.
Tradewind Properties is here to help you take the headache out of your rental property utility management, Contact Tradewind Properties. We are here to help!
There’s a chill in the air, holiday decorations are up in stores, and you are thinking about what resolution to make this year. Anything from losing weight, a better work-life balance, or saving more money for retirement. With the income from your property, you already are investing in your retirement future. However, do you feel like these investments are taking over your life and leaving you with little to no time for relaxation with family and friends?
It’s easy to think the best person to care for your rental properties is yourself. But the truth is, while owning income-based property can be tremendously rewarding, it’s also stressful and incredibly time-consuming. It seems like those maintenance phone calls always happen at 2:00 a.m. and they are starting to wear on you–especially if you have multiple rental properties.
For many income property owners, the thought of giving up control of their properties can be difficult. However, Tradewind Properties Rental Property Management Services could give you the balance you desire.
Tradewind Properties makes life easier by helping rental property owners to achieve their goals. Working with our professional property managers means less stress and more life balance. Here are several practical services that Tradewind Properties offers to deal with common rental owner property stresses.
Reducing rental turnover
Tradewind Properties can help to reduce tenant turnover by providing these services.
- 24/7 maintenance coordination
- Routine maintenance inspections
- Supervising all tenant relations
- Comprehensive rental screening
- Owner’s assurance program
- Free lease renewals
Helping to fill vacancies
Tradewind Properties can help fill vacancies fast by providing these services.
- Property evaluation & market analysis
- Aggressive marketing, MLS listing, and rental showing
- Move-in inspection reports with photos
- Final move-out inspection
Keeping compliance with the law
Tradewind Properties stays up-to-date on local, state, and federal law and ensures your rental properties are compliant by providing these services.
- Negotiation & execution of lease
- Preparation of CRP and MISC-1099
- Tenant applications and rental agreements applications
- Collection of 1st month’s rent and deposit(s)
- Collection and disbursements of monthly rents
- Enforcing rental and lease agreements
Tradewind Properties would like to help you reach your work-life balance resolution in 2020 and beyond. Learn more about our comprehensive rental management plan including all the services listed above.
Considering renting out your property? When it’s time to spruce up your rental, attract potential tenants with these quick, simple improvements.
- Focus on that Kitchen
Today’s renters are putting a lot of emphasis on one room in the house: the kitchen. The layout, details, and functionality of the kitchen can make or break a property. While you don’t have to do a complete remodel or change the layout of your existing kitchen, there are a few quick improvements that can make the kitchen wow your tenants.Install new cupboard hardware, a shiny new retractable faucet, and a hidden space for the trash can. Repaint the walls if they’re looking dim, and spend some time thinking of smart storage solutions for the kitchen. Making the kitchen inviting, clean, and modern will help potential tenants imagine themselves in this important space.
- In-Home Laundry
Carrying around loads of laundry is a pain, and in-home laundry is one of those items that shows up on most tenants’ wish lists. Even if it is a small washer and dryer, stacking or side-by-side, see if you can fit in these appliances to make your tenants’ lives easier.
- Allow Pets
There are pros and cons to allowing pets or not allowing them, but being open to dogs and cats can open up your rental pool significantly. Read more on this subject.
- Clean It Up
This may seem obvious, but deep cleaning all parts of your rental space is crucial. Don’t skimp on washing windows, floorboards, door frames, blinds, and every inch of the bathrooms. Hire a carpet cleaning service to make sure your carpets are fresh. Although most people won’t notice that your place is spic-n-span, they will notice if it’s not.
- Improve Your Curb Appeal
Taking time to amp up your exterior can range from repainting the entire façade, to planting flowers or putting an afternoon’s time into the lawn. Try any of these simple ideas to make your property more inviting: spray for weeds, scatter grass seed on bald spots, plant shrubs or flowers, repair cracks in the sidewalks or driveway, and repaint trim or shutters.
For more assistance with renting out your property―including vetting and finding tenants or conducting a Home Rental Analysis, contact the real estate experts at Tradewind Properties: 763-657-1957. We are here to help!
As a landlord, you have two major concerns: keeping your rental property occupied, and keeping it in good shape so it appeals to tenants. Tradewind Properties takes care of the first concern for you, so let’s focus on the second.
Each tenant will have ways to make your rental property feel like home to them, as they should. But as the landlord, what changes should you allow and when should you say no?
To put it simply, think about which changes will be either reversible when current renters move out, or a clear upgrade that will improve the value of the property.
For example, changes that will make tenants happy, but are reversible, could include:
- Changing the blinds.
- Swapping out light-switch covers.
- Painting the walls. This one can be a triumph or a disaster. It is best to either approve any colors the tenants are suggesting, or arrange a fee for the walls to be painted back to original upon them moving out.
- Replacing shower heads, specialty light bulbs, or other easy swaps.
- Light fixtures, although it is recommended that a licensed electrician be hired for this job.
- Custom built-ins for the closets.
- Any baby-proofing.
Generally-speaking, most major upgrades should come out of your wallet, as the owner of the property. But small changes to the rental can be the tenants’ choosing (and on their dime), and will help give them a say in how their living space feels. Assuming they gain your permission and that the upgrades improve the value of the property, consider giving a thumbs up to these:
- Replacing drawer pulls and other hardware.
- Deep cleaning the carpets, power spraying the deck, or other major cleaning endeavors.
- Painting walls or cabinets (see above).
- Installing shelving in the garage, mud room, laundry room, etc.
- Upgrading the kitchen sink to include a retractable kitchen faucet, an in-sink soap dispenser, or adding a garbage disposal.
- Bringing in their own appliances that they will leave behind (assuming they’re a step above what you currently have).
- Bathroom upgrades like towel rods, towel hooks, or a medicine cabinet.
- Installing ceiling fans (again, with the help of a professional).
- Planting herbs, bulbs or flowers in garden.
When to Say No
Sometimes what seems like a fabulous idea to some is either too permanent, too hazardous, or too ugly to allow in your rental property.
- Cut-outs for an A/C unit.
- Fire pits or other fire hazards.
- Basketball hoops installed on the exterior. Chances are good the next tenants might not be as keen on a game of hoops.
- Anything that diminishes the functionality or character of a place, such as painting over original brick, closing off a fireplace, or adding an awning which only keeps light from getting in the windows, etc.
- Changing the locks or security system. Unless you mutually agree to change the locks, and the landlord takes the lead, this is obviously a big no-no.
Please note that safety issues, repairs and major upgrades are part of a landlord’s responsibilities. The staff at Tradewind Properties can help you manage all of these, including emergency handyman visits for repairs.
Keep an open line of communication with your tenants, and be open to suggestions for how they can make your property feel like home. It’s beneficial to both parties if tenants and landlord are satisfied and in agreement.
If you have any questions about becoming a landlord, or renting out your property, Contact Tradewind Properties. We are here to help!
If you’re a pet owner, you know how difficult it can be to find a rental home that allows pets, and how out-of-the-question it would be to leave them behind. But as a landlord, should you allow pets in your rental property or just say no? Consider these points when deciding whether you’d accept dogs, cats, other pets, or none at all.
Pros to Allowing Pets
- Higher Rent: If you’re open to allowing pets, increase your rent/month or establish a monthly pet fee. Pet owners are usually asked to pay more per month in rent than non-pet owners due to the probability of extra clean-up or property damage.
- Higher or Additional Deposit: Similarly, landlords should require an additional or increased deposit to cover any pet-related costs.
- Appeal to Pet Owners: Opening your property to pet-owners widens your pool of potential renters, many of whom may be having trouble finding a place for their whole household.
- You’ve Been There: If you’re a pet owner yourself, you know how it feels to have your animals be a part of your family. You would be helping a similar family find a home that suits their needs.
Cons to Allowing Pets
- High Risk of Damage: Between claws, teeth, and the habit of urinating inside, pets can bring a whole range of damage to your property. Young puppies, kittens, and older pets who have trouble with incontinence can be especially risky.
- That Smell: Dog and Cat smell is nearly impossible to avoid, and even harder to get out of a home. Especially if they’re having accidents on the carpet or spraying like male cats can do, ridding your rental of that odor can be difficult and can make it hard to rent out again.
- Barking or other Nuisances to Neighbors: If your renters’ pet is being noisy, roaming into others’ yards, or worse, being aggressive or a danger to others, you as the landlord will have to deal with it. It is much harder to tell a family they have to move out or get rid of their pet than just saying no to pets in the beginning.
- Taking someone’s word for it: Experience says that even though renters will promise that their pet doesn’t bark, doesn’t bite, doesn’t have accidents, and is an absolute angel, they may just be trying to get into your rental. As a property management company, Tradewind Properties vets your potential renters to be sure that you know what you’re getting into. We ask for updated veterinarian records on the pet’s health and behavior and request a detailed pet rental reference from a current and/or past landlord.
If you are going to allow pets, consider these tips:
- Add a monthly pet fee or an additional pet deposit. The experienced agents at Tradewind Properties will help you determine the right deposit or pet rent to ask for based on the individual home and market.
- Check with your city ordinances, HOA, and landlord’s insurance to see if certain breeds are not allowed or not covered by insurance.
- Landlords may want to require dogs and cats to be over one year old, potty-trained, and up to date on all shots. Puppies and kittens can do significantly more damage than trained adult pets.
- If you’ve decided not to allow dogs and cats, what about birds, reptiles, or small pets like hamsters, rabbits, or guinea pigs? Think of the above pros and cons, but on a smaller scale.
When you work with Tradewind Properties, we will help you set your preferred pet policy (within the guidelines of your HOA). At a minimum, we require all pets to be 1 year or older, be up-to-date on all shots, and be licensed within the city (if applicable). When a potential renter applies, we will verify the vet records and behavior of the pet for you, and will perform a routine inspection of the property 1-2 months after a new tenant moves in to ensure no lease violations are occurring.
Generally, we at Tradewind Properties have found that allowing pets is beneficial as it broadens your pool of potential renters, and we’d love to help you prepare for renting out your property, pets or no pets!
**Please note that the above tips are strictly related to pets and do not pertain to the laws governing service animals.
If you have any questions about becoming a landlord, or renting out your property, Contact Tradewind Properties. We are here to help!
When considering becoming a landlord and renting out your property, you may be wondering how insurance will help you manage the risks of your new arrangement.
Landlord Insurance is a specific type of coverage for this situation, and, along with working with a good property management company, is one of the best ways to be fully prepared to be a landlord.
What’s Covered by Landlord Insurance?
Each insurance company is different, and coverage will differ. Talk to your insurance agent for full details. But in general, Landlord Insurance may help you in the following situations.
- Fair Rental Value Coverage. This is the biggest difference between home insurance and landlord insurance. If your property becomes uninhabitable for a reason that is covered, Landlord Insurance should cover your lost rental income while repairs are being finished, usually up to 12 months.
- Dwelling Coverage of your rental property from fire, hail, vandalism, and other dangers.
- Coverage of other structures on the property, such as garages, sheds, etc.
- Coverage of Items that you own on the property, like appliances, furniture you’ve provided, or even tools you keep there.
- Liability Coverage; Legal Counsel and Medical expenses should someone become injured on the property.
Some insurance companies will offer discounts for certain circumstances, such as:
- New/ Recently-Renovated Home Discount, for rental properties newer than approx. 13 years old, or newly renovated.
- Multi-policies Discount, for those covering several properties, or a property and car, for example.
- Protective Devices Discount: may apply if you use a security alarm, a sprinkler system, deadbolts, fire extinguishers, etc.
Other Questions Insurance Companies May Ask
In order to determine the right coverage for you, your insurance company may want to know some additional information.
- Do you currently live in the same home as your tenant?
- How many properties are you renting out?
- What type of unit are you renting out?
- Do you rent out your property intermittently, or on a regular basis for longer periods of time?
If you have any questions about becoming a landlord, or about landlord insurance, Contact Tradewind Properties. We are here to help!
Congratulations! Now that you’ve made the choice to rent out your property, think about whether it’s best for you to take on the role of landlord and manage your rental yourself, or hire a property management company for help.
Depending on your skills, free time, and experience, it may be best to hire a property management company if:
1. You’re not up for the detailed organization and upkeep of managing a property.
City ordinances, affordable housing programs, and local practices can overwhelm some landlords when it comes time to rent.
2. You’re not sure how to draw up a rental agreement, or run the proper background checks.
Management companies will perform the necessary credit and background checks on possible renters, and will supply the legal agreements as you enter into your new landlord/tenant relationship.
3. Your daily life keeps you busy and you’d like to leave the management tasks to professionals.
Being a landlord can be a breeze one month and require more hours of troubleshooting and on-site visits the next. If you maintain a full-time job and have a busy schedule, you can pass along these tasks.
4. You may be renting out several properties, but you’re not looking to make “landlord” your day-job.
If you’re looking to take on several properties, a property management company can definitely help with the volume.
5. You’re not going to be living nearby.
Many savvy homeowners who are moving out of town will choose to rent out their home instead of selling. But being far away can prevent a landlord from being able to show the space, meet potential tenants, or do home repairs.
6. You’re not looking forward to taking on the risks associated with managing a property.
If the thought of tenants missing payments, finding new tenants, or dealing with unexpected home repairs makes you cringe, there’s an easier way to meet your real estate and renting goals.
Contact Us to Learn More
Tradewind Properties is locally and veteran-owned, and can assist new landlords with all aspects of the renting process.
So, you’re living the American Dream. You’ve got a great job, a wonderful family, and a beautiful home. All the puzzle pieces of your life seem to be falling perfectly into place.
And now, you’re looking to broaden your horizons a bit. You want to expand your investment portfolio by purchasing a rental property. After doing your due diligence, you’ve determined that now is the perfect time to put this prudent plan into action. You figure that the positive monthly cash flow you’ll be able to generate, combined with the property’s inevitable increase in value, will help shave a good 10 years off the target date of your eventual retirement.
Purchasing and owning rental properties can be a very worthwhile and rewarding experience. The potential benefits are undeniable:
- Monthly Cash Flow / Addition Stream of Revenue
- Long-Term Appreciation
- Tax Deductions
But imagine this scenario, if you will:
It’s 2am on an artic evening in January. The winter winds are whipping around outside, while you’re nestled all nicely inside the toasty-warmth of your bed. All of a sudden, you’re jolted from your restful slumber by the sound of your cell phone ringing. You answer it to find a frantic tenant on the other end. After a long weekend away, they’ve just returned home to find their furnace on the fritz and a massive water leak in the basement. And if you don’t get over there to fix the problem fast, the entire lower level will soon be sitting under six inches of ice-cold H2O.
Too many somber scenarios like this one can transform your American Dream into a nightmare in the blink of an eye. And unfortunately, that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the potential pitfalls of being a landlord.
Here are a few more examples of things people tend to overlook when considering the purchase of a rental property:
Finding Quality Tenants
Every intelligent owner out there strives to keep their vacancies to an absolute minimum. A vacant rental property can really take its toll on your finances fast. However, not waiting for the right tenant can end up being even more costly. Whether a renter routinely stiffs you on rent – or they happen to have a penchant for destroying things – a bad tenant can turn your picture-perfect life into a horror movie marathon.
And if that ‘perfect tenant’ of yours turns out to be anything but, you will likely have to allocate a lot of time – and money – to remedy the situation. The eviction process is usually an ugly and agonizing experience. It can also be a very costly one, as well. Plus – even if the court rules in your favor – there’s no guarantee that you’ll ever see a dime in return for your troubles.
Knowing the Rules
The rules and regulations regarding real estate are ever changing. So, it’s of vital importance that you stay abreast of the latest laws and legislation affecting landlords. Otherwise, you might find yourself in a whole heap of trouble. An accidental act of discrimination toward a tenant, or a failure to follow the Fair Housing Act, could land you on the wrong side of a not-so-civil court case. And if you’re not using an air-tight rental agreement, a judge may deem your document as worthless as the paper it’s printed on.
Maintenance and Repairs
It’s inevitable. Structures deteriorate. Appliances and mechanicals break down. It’s not a matter of if, but when. And if you’re not prepared to deal with such situations, the landlord lifestyle may prove to be a painful one for you.
Now, not every issue that arises will be a catastrophe. You will likely field a few phone calls for much lesser concerns. Certain tenants may even feel the need to call you for every microscopic imperfection they can find. And while some of these issues will warrant a phone call, others might seem a bit trivial. However, you must also consider the consequences of dismissing the request. Too many of these unresolved issues might leave you with a disgruntled tenant on your hands.
There is, however, a surefire way to deal with each of these dilemmas in an effective and efficient manner. And that is to hire a property management company to manage your property for you. It’s their job to handle your headaches and to do the ‘dirty work’ necessary to ensure that your investment keeps working for you for years to come.
Now, while there is a cost involved in utilizing such a service, it is usually quite reasonable and can provide you with the peace of mind in knowing that your property is in good hands. If you would like to find out more about how a home rental service could benefit you, please contact Tradewind Properties today for a FREE consultation and home rental analysis.
Are You Ready to be a Landlord for a Minnesota Rental?
If you have a home in Minnesota and have recently moved, gotten married, or inherited another property, you have two options. You could either sell the property, though that can be difficult depending on the market, or you can rent out the property to tenants and become a landlord.
There are some questions you should ask yourself before you put out an ad for your home rental, however. Are you really ready to become a landlord?