Being a landlord isn't all happy tenants and money rolling in. It is also a series of minor crises, punctuated by a few more major ones.
The most persistent problem is noisy tenant parties. This can result in late-night phone calls to you from irate neighbors. Since much of the damage done to rental units happens during these parties, done to rental units happens during these parties, noise complaints should be a warning. So don't be angry at the neighbors for complaining.
The first or second time it happens, write the tennants a note or phone them. It may have been a special occasion which won't occur again. Just letting them know your were notified may warn them to keep the noise down in the future.
But if the parties and the complaints become repeated, contact the police. A warning from the police usually is enough to stop the problem, at least for that night.
If none of these thingswork, you should consider evicting the tenants. The income is not worth the damage such as Ocean City, Maryland, have passed ordinances which can result in the loss of your license to rent if there are repeated noise complaints.
Another common tenant problem is pets, particularly dogs. Some tenants let their dogs run wild. They may frighten and annoy the neighbors and children. Or the dogs may be allowed to do their duty everywhere - on the balconies, walkways, grass, etc.
To fight dog problems, some condominium associations have banned all pets, not tenants they rent to. Others simply make local leash laws a part of their own rules.
If your tenant is allowed to have a dog, check up on it.Be certain it is either walked or cleaned up after. Be sure the dog isn't left all day on a balcony. Ask the nighbors if the dog is a problem. Don't just wait for them to complain.
There is also the problem of the tenant who tries to turn the parking lot into a car repair shop. Charging a battery, doing a minor tune-up, or making quick repair certainly should be allowed . But more major, dirtier, or noisier jobs such as oil changes, body work, muffler repairs, etc., should be prohibited. And check to be sure old, broken down cars are not parked in the parking lot for long periods of time or with expired tags.
Then, of course, there are the problems of trash on the balconies, middle of the night swimming, loud stereos or TVs, bicycles parked in flower beds, balconies used as clotheslines, and so on.
On condominium complex even had a problem with X-rated movies. The tenants were showing the movies in the privacy of their unit, but they were using the living room curtains as a screen. The movies went right through the curtains. And thneighbors across the way got a drive-in movie view!
And these are just a few of the problems you could face. Undoubtedly your tenants will find some more.
To reduce the chance of problems, be sure your tenants know the rules and regulations of the condominium association. It's good idea to put a written copy in a prominent place.
And get a list of all the other owners with their phone numbers. Call them if there is a problem with one of their tenants. They will probably be grateful for the warning.
Encourage them to call you if the problem is with your tenant. That could be your only warning of more serious problems.
Don't depend on the condominium association to police your tenants. The association can pass rules and regulations - like no barbecuing on balconies - but it is diffcult for them to enforce those rules. That's your responsibility.
Under Maryland and Virginia law, for example, there is no way for a condominium association to force an owner, much less a tenant to obey the rules. They are a part of the by laws. The rules do not have the force of law. And no penalties for breaking them can be imposed unless the owner voluntarily submits to the penalty.
A bill was introduced in the Maryland legislature this year which, if it had passed, would have given condominium associations the power to enforce their rules. Owners would have been subject to fines established by the association of up to $100 for each infraction. And owners would have been held responsible for the acts of their tenants.
Until there is such legislation in every state, it will be up to landlords to control their tenants. Problem tenants can give a complex a bad reputation, making the units harder to sell, and thereby devaluing them. So it is in every landlord's interest to enforce the condo rules even if it means the loss of a rental.
Lynne F. Peterson is an editor with NBC who owns vacation property.