It’s important to have a good lease, and also to do a periodic rental inspection of your property. These should be done through your Indianapolis property management company, or if you’re self-managing – you need to do a couple of inspections and drive-by inspections so you know what’s happening at your property.
Here’s a story. We had just acquired a property with an existing tenant from another property management company. We got the lease agreement from the former management company, but the owner didn’t know what was happening at the property and hadn’t received rent in two months. Apparently, the tenants had just moved in four months earlier. So, we went to check out the property.
During our rental property inspection, we found a pit bull puppy, which was not an authorized pet, and the tenants were smoking like crazy in the house. There were ashtrays overflowing in the kitchen and the bedroom. Our leases are very specific about not smoking anywhere on the property, including the front and back yards and the garage. We also have specific clauses that deal with pets. We asked the tenants if they had permission to do these things. They said they thought it was okay. We read the lease and we were surprised because the lease wasn’t specific. It did say they couldn’t smoke inside and they shouldn’t have had a dog without permission.
We told them the pit bull would not work because it’s a dangerous breed. We needed to get them caught up on paying the rent, too. This illustrates why it’s important to have a clear, strong lease that the tenant understands. If it ever comes before a judge, the judge will read it in favor of the tenant if it’s not strongly protective of the landlord and the owner.
Rent got caught up, but the next month came along and we didn’t get a rent payment. We contacted the tenant and got no response. We sent a late notice and still got no response. So, we delivered a 10 Day Notice and left it on the door. There was never any response, so we moved into the eviction process. The next time we went to the house, the property was abandoned. After looking around, we noticed that there were strange things lying around, such as an airbed and some trash. The neighbor came over to give us the keys and inform us that the tenant had been put in jail and obviously had no phone. There was no way to communicate and the neighbors didn’t know us.
So, a good lesson to learn here is that you should make sure the neighbors know how to reach you. Then, if something happens, the neighbors can let you know.
We distribute our cards when we do a move-in inspection, and leave them taped to the refrigerator. This is an odd story, but it demonstrates why you need a good lease and periodic inspections. If you have any questions about property management in Indianapolis or how to put together a great rental lease agreement, please contact us at ES Property Management.