Tips for landlords to avoid legal trouble with their tenants

by John Morey | Feb 04, 2017

1. Respond to maintenance requests immediately.

Some tenants are quiet and you never hear from them, and others seem to always have something wrong with the property. And a lot of times, they have unrealistic expectations about the property and nothing is wrong. This causes some landlords to treat these tenants like the “Boy Who Cried Wolf.” But if something actually goes wrong and you were notified, you can be held liable. You cannot go in front of the judge and allege that the tenant cried foul numerous times before and nothing was wrong. It would always be wise to inspect each and every time. To save you time, you can have the tenant send you some kind of proof (e.g., text a picture) before you head over there. Another thing you can do is to not send an expert over before someone does a preliminary examination. For example, let’s say the tenant claims there is an issue with a toilet. Send someone over from the property management team to investigate before hiring a plumber. It could be a simple issue you can solve for free.

2. Develop a strong relationship with your tenant.

With several property management companies, they see the tenant when they move in and move out—that’s it. You obviously do not have to become best friends with your tenant, but make some effort to get to know them. Know their children’s names, know their names. Maybe send cookies when they move in. When you do these things and develop a relationship, they will be a lot less likely to take you to court immediately if a problem later arises. You will hopefully be able to talk it through and settle it out of court if you have developed a relationship.

3. Provide a high quality rental.

At the end of the day, you have to turn a profit. So while you might love to update the kitchen with granite countertops, your budget will often prevent you from doing so. But the unit has to be sound. That means that it has to be very clean and all appliances have to work. And there are things you can do to improve the unit for very little cost, such as a fresh coat of paint or switching out the light switches for new ones. If you provide a nice unit, it is a lot less likely that the tenant will complain and it is more likely that the tenant will take good care of it. 

4. Promptly provide notices regarding security deposits.

One of the calls we get most often regard disputes involving the return of security deposits between landlords and tenants. It is important as a landlord that you realize this is not your money to simply do with as you please. Florida statute provides very specific rules and processes that must be followed by landlords regarding the security deposit. Your failure to provide the tenant with proper notice regarding their security deposit or your intent to impose a claim against the security deposit can result in you having to face a lawsuit.

The Orlando eviction lawyers at Morey Law Firm, P.A. are here to walk you through every step of property management and being a landlord. Our experienced landlord-tenant attorneys are always available to answer your questions. You may call our office directly or submit a free case review online.