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So what do you do if you have “bad” tenants? Here are some steps you can take to protect yourself and your tenants.
1. Have a good lease agreement
Here is a list of items we recommend you include in a lase agreement:
- Length of time with beginning and end dates
- Renewal terms
- Security deposits: last month’s rent, pet damages, other damages
- Many find it helpful not to allow pets at all
- Waiver of notices: state that the tenant is responsible to know the information in the contract
- Usage: State that the property is for residence only
- Rights of entry: Respect the tenant’s privacy, but let them know that you have a right to inspect the property
- Proper notice to vacate: Know your state’s laws (see below)
- Notice of daily fees for late rent
2. Don’t postpone taking action
See http://texastenant.org/eviction.html for a detailed description of the eviction process.
If a tenant refuses to move after a landlord asks the tenant to leave, the landlord must file an eviction case with the J.P. court to get approval to remove the tenant. You must write a letter to the tenant giving notice that you plan to file an eviction. The notice is due to the tenant 3-30 days before you plan to file the eviction, so check out the eviction links above for more info. The tenant will then receive eviction suit papers from the court with the court date.
Both parties will appear in court and the judge or jury will make the final decision. Either party can appeal the decision up to five days after the ruling. If the court rules in your favor, you must file a writ of possession.
3. Communicate Clearly and Keep Records
Never make a verbal agreement. Verbal agreements don’t hold up in court. Even an honest tenant can misunderstand a verbal agreement, and without a written record, neither party is protected.
Eventually, you will have a tenant fall on hard times. It’s important to be kind and empathetic, but remember not to let a tenant’s personal issues affect your business negatively.
Video recordings before the tenant moves in and when the tenant leaves the property can be an extremely useful record-keeping tool. This way, damages or lack thereof are completely clear.
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