14 Tenant and Landlord Myths Busted
Renters Warehouse Blog
When it comes to landlords –and tenants, misconceptions abound.
Browse through any investment forums, and you’d be tempted to think that all tenants are wild rogues who enjoy trashing the rental and hosting 100-person parties every weekend. Then on the other side of the coin, we have stories of landlords gone wrong, with tenants accusing them of atrocities ranging from booting them out with no notice, to shutting off the water, to locking them out a bid to speed up an eviction.
But while there certainly are some stereotypes that are true about both sides, the truth is that at the end of the day, the reality is a lot less exciting –and a lot more down to earth. Most landlords simply want to collect the rent on time and tenants simply want a safe place to live. In fact, most landlords and tenants get along just fine.
Wondering what’s true and what’s an exaggeration? Let’s do some myth-busting now! In this article, we’ll take a look at some common myths that are circulating about tenants and landlords. Read on as we separate fact from fiction.
See also: 7 Myths About Real Estate Investment
Myth #1: Landlords Are Always Responsible for All Maintenance
One of the big perks of renting is that the maintenance and repairs all fall to the landlord, right? If something breaks, you call the landlord and the tenant is off without a worry.
However, the responsibility of the maintenance and repairs all depends on your lease terms. While many landlords are responsible for general maintenance, many choose to put tenants in charge of some maintenance tasks –like property upkeep and lawn care.
As a landlord it is important that your tenants know what maintenance they are responsible for. Just keep in mind that you’ll want to check your state law first to make sure you’re able to assign maintenance to tenants. In Minnesota, for example, landlords are required to reimburse tenants for lawn care and snow removal.
Myth #2: Landlords Can Evict Tenants for No Reason
While you sometimes hear stories of rouge landlords evicting tenant for no reason, the truth is, in most states, you do need a reason for an eviction. There are three reasons that are valid for evictions:
- Nonpayment of rent,
- Breaking the lease, or
- An expired lease
Now, there is an exception to this. If the tenant is on a month-to-month rental agreement and the landlord chooses not to renew the contract, the tenant will effectively be asked to leave –no reason is required. However, for tenants who are on a longer contract, there is a lot more security in terms of evictions or being given notice to leave.
Myth #3: All Landlords Are Unfair
While there certainly are unfair landlords out there, the majority of landlords are fair. In fact, landlords in most states are required by law to uphold certain standards and must give their tenants adequate notice about plans that will impact them. This means when it comes to raising the rent, ending the lease, or even entering the premises –landlords are required to give tenants a certain amount of notice first. If landlords don’t follow the law, then they will quickly find themselves in a world of trouble, so it’s in a landlord’s best interest to operate fairly.
If you feel your landlord is being unfair or unreasonable, it’s important to check the laws for landlords in your state. See: Landlord-Tenant Laws by State.
Myth #4: Landlords Can Enter Their Property Whenever They’d Like
While tenants may swap horror stories about landlords showing up at the rental unannounced, legally, a landlord must provide a tenant with sufficient warning before entering the premises. In most states, this is at least 24 hours’ notice. While there are some exemptions to this rule, such as an emergency situation –like a fire or a burst pipe, for the most part, landlords are required to give notice.
It may be the landlord’s property, but it’s the tenant’s home. Tenants have what’s called a right to quiet enjoyment and peace and quiet. Landlords cannot just show up out of the blue. In fact, they need to give the tenant exclusive use of the unit while they’re there.
Myth #5: Landlords Can Lock ‘Bad Tenants” Out
Locking tenants out or attempting to conduct a DIY eviction is not only downright wrong, in most cases it’s also illegal. In order to evict tenants, landlords must serve them with the required paperwork and follow the steps in the process to ensure that everything is done in accordance with the law. Attempting to remove a tenant on your own is never a good idea.
Myth #6: One Tenant Reference Is Plenty
While it can be a time-consuming process, thorough tenant screening is key to securing a great tenant. For this reason, it’s important to follow up on all the references that an applicant has put down. This will help you to gain a complete picture of the applicant. While you’re at it, be sure to check in with their previous landlords too.
Myth #7: All Tenants Are the Same
Just like no two people are the same, no two tenants are the same either. Assuming that all tenants will act just like others will land you in a world of trouble –fast. Some tenants are more diligent and responsible than others, while others may have higher standards and expect things to be done a certain way. For this reason, it’s important for landlords not to become complacent. Instead, you should always screen all applicants carefully and equally –don’t simply trust your gut to lead you to the right one.
Myth #8: A High Credit Score Equals a Good Tenant
While a credit score is an important piece of the picture, it isn’t everything. A good credit score alone doesn’t necessarily mean that an applicant will be a good tenant and a low credit score shouldn’t cause you to rule out a tenant completely. According to a 2016 SmartMove user survey, 59% of respondents strongly and somewhat agreed that the majority of landlords place greater emphasis on a prospective tenant having a steady income rather than previous credit history. That’s good news!
Consider that younger tenants –like Millennials and Gen-Z, might not have a great credit score, not because they are bad tenants but because they haven’t had the opportunity to build up a credit history yet. A credit score should be taken into consideration as part of the picture, but shouldn’t be the only deciding factor. If you’re renting a tenant with a low credit score, consider asking them if they’d be willing to get a co-signer.
Myth #9: A Tenant’s Ability to Pay Rent Is the Only Thing that Matters
Sure, a tenant’s ability to pay rent is important. But it isn’t everything. A tenant’s ability to abide by the terms of the lease is crucial too. When screening applicants, your goal is to try to find an applicant who can both pay rent and follow the terms of the lease. Everything else is irrelevant.
Myth #10: Any Tenant Is Better Than No Tenant
While it is true that vacancies do cost you money, don’t be so hasty to fill that vacancy that you forgo tenant screening. A tenant who isn’t fully vetted could end up costing you a lot more than a couple of extra weeks vacancy time. Take the time to fill your vacancies right. Always run each applicant through a careful screening process so that you can ensure that you end up with a qualified tenant in your rental.
Myth #11: Most Landlords Take Advantage of Renters
Tenants sometimes feel that the cost of rent is outrageous and that landlords are out to take advantage of them, raking in the money while they’re struggling to get by. But generally speaking, most landlords work hard to treat their tenants fairly. Most landlords own rentals as a business. Their rental properties are the product that they’re offering to their customer –the tenant. This business relationship means that there’s an element of give and take on both sides. Landlords are essentially providing a product (the rental home) and a service (property management, maintenance, and upkeep) and for this reason, they deserve to get paid. Tenants: keep in mind too, that there are costs associated with owning and operating a rental unit, including taxes, insurance, and maintenance. Don’t think that the entire rent payment is pure profit.
Myth #12: Landlords Never Want to Hear From Tenants
There’s a misconception out there that landlords never want to hear from tenants. But that’s simply not the case. Sure, landlords don’t like being contacted around the clock, notified of every little thing –but in most cases, they do want to be kept up to date on what’s happening at their rental. In most cases, a happy middle ground is best. Tenants should try not to contact their landlord too often, but if something’s gone wrong –say the furnace has gone out or if there’s a leak –then feel free to contact them right away; they’ll want to know.
Myth #13: The Lease Is Always Legally Binding
Another myth that some landlords believe is that the lease is always enforceable. As long as the tenant has signed it, they can enforce it. But the fact is, even though a lease is a legally binding contract, it should now contain clauses that go against federal or state law. In these cases, certain sections of a lease can be deemed unenforceable. For landlords, it’s a good idea to run your lease by an attorney who’s familiar with the landlord-tenant laws in your state.
Myth #14: A Long-Term Tenants Is More Likely to Lose Their Security Deposit
One final myth that some tenants believe is that the longer they stay, the higher the chance that they’ll lose their security deposit. After all, if you’re in a unit for longer, then there will be more wear and tear in it, right? Wrong! Landlords cannot charge for normal wear and tear on a unit. Instead, the security deposit is to be used for damage. The best option for tenants who have been in a rental for a short –or lengthy amount of time is to ensure that they’ve cleaned, patched any holes, and repainted any walls that might need it.
As you can see, there are plenty of myths surrounding landlords and tenants alike. Why are there so many misconceptions? One explanation is that bad experiences tend to be more memorable than good ones –so those are the type of stories that often get repeated the most –and the ones that stand out to us. Meanwhile, stories of renters paying the rent on time and looking after the property just don’t get circulated as much, even though they’re the norm. When you see this imbalance, it’s easy to assume that they represent a typical experience for a landlord.
If you’re thinking of getting started with rental investing, don’t let these rumors put you off. For the most part, owning rental properties is a pleasant and profitable experience. This is especially true if you have the right team on your side, allowing you to ensure that it’s straightforward and hassle-free.
Want to discover the flipside now? See for yourself how stress-free rental investments can be.
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