A lease is a contract that helps protect both the landlord and the tenant who rents a specific rental property. The landlord includes deposit requirements and restrictions on behaviors, like limits on occupancy, while the tenant has protections such as the right to request notice before the landlord enters the property.
Unfortunately, not everyone takes leases as seriously as they should. Tenants often seem to think they can break a lease without facing consequences for doing so. If you have reason to believe that your tenant has violated their lease intentionally and repeatedly, you may need to take action to enforce the terms of your lease.
What does the process involve for landlords who want to uphold their leases and protect their investment in rental properties?
Document the breach, and advise the tenant of your concerns
It is usually wisest to photograph or videotape what makes you suspect violations of your lease before you bring the issue to a tenant’s attention. Otherwise, they might simply attempt to hide their behavior. For example, if you suspect that they have a cat that their lease does not permit, they might stop opening their blinds, making it difficult for you to conclusively prove that there has been a cat sitting on the windowsill.
Once you have evidence of the infraction, whether it is guests staying too many nights, unauthorized animals, unpaid rent or damage to the property, you can then send a formal letter to the tenant advising them of the issue and asking them to correct it immediately. Situations involving unpaid rent or damage to the unit may necessitate that you demand the tenant correct the problem using their own funds as soon as possible.
If they don’t respond to the letter, you can take legal action
It is typically in your best interest to give a tenant the opportunity to correct behavior or pay back-due rent. Eviction proceedings can be expensive, as can civil lawsuits which may become necessary to recover losses coming from property damage.
Having evidence of both the infraction and your attempt to remedy the situation directly with the tenant will make it easier for you to ask the courts to step in on your behalf if the issue persists.