The leases that we have our Los Angeles based tenants execute are quite lengthy. Our leases are drafted by very qualified real estate attorneys. Our leases are fully exhaustive and cover nearly every rental landlord/tenant scenario imaginable.
With that said, more often than not, tenants do not read the terms of the lease prior executing it. If tenants do not read the lease, how do they know what we expect of them in terms of behavior throughout the course of their tenancy?
This is why years ago we choose to condense the lease down to 3 basic simple rules, which we summarize with the tenants verbally prior to them executing the leases. We call them our “3 Rules of Renting” and they are:
Tenants must pay rent in full and on time,
Tenants must respect the property and
Tenants must respect the quiet enjoyment rights of their neighbors.
This is it. Nothing more. Nothing less. We tell our new tenants that if they can follow these simple and easy “3 Rules of Renting” then we will have a harmonious relationship.
Tenants Must Pay Rent in Full and on Time:
We have very clear expectations with our tenants that they are to pay the full rental amount by the 3rd of each month and rent is considered late on the 4th. They are not to pay 50% of their rent but 100% of it. Are there instances where we have had to work with long term quality tenants since they have gone through a loss of a job or death in the family, sure we have. We work with them and prefer this, rather than lose them and spend time and money on an eviction. In these instances we have them sign a one-page document that they will pay the rent by X Date and agree to pay the late fee as well. This is the exception not the rule. All other tenants and situations, we expect full rent payment to be paid on time. In effort to streamline the rent collection process we use state of the art software, www.AppFolio.com. This allows for our tenants to pay rent in full and on time through their secure tenant portal and cuts down on our rent collection process.
Tenants Must Respect The Property:
It sounds obvious that respecting the property is a rule, but it still amazes us how many tenants do not respect the property. We’re talking about the interior of their units, the exterior of the building, appliances and common areas (parking, pool, gates, etc.). This refers to such things as ensuring that cigarette butts are not thrown on the ground (assuming smoking is allowed by the owner), kids don’t take their crayon drawing skills to the walls and they don’t overuse the water (Example: tenants washing their cars on the premises with the water that the owner pays for).
Tenants Must Respect The Quiet Enjoyment Rights Of Their Neighbors
This rule refers to the fact that in California, each tenant has an implied right to the quiet enjoyment of the property – this means that once a tenant takes possession of the premises, the tenant is entitled to peaceful possession of those premises. A landlord’s failure to curb a tenant’s disruptive or abusive conduct might be found to be a breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment. In such a case, eviction of a troublesome or nuisance tenant is the best way to protect the other tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment of the premises. In effort to avoid evictions and other costly sound proofing improvements, we set the expectation on the front end that tenants are not to make excessive and unnecessary noise to disrupt other tenants. We have House Rules handed out to each tenant and it is posted in the laundry room and above the mailboxes of each building. If tenants don’t respect the House Rules and thus violate another tenants’ quiet enjoyment of the property, that tenant may be in breach of their lease.
While the “3 Rules of Renting” are not fool proof for avoiding undesirable tenants, we have found that verbally sharing these rules with our tenants, and obtaining their understanding/consent to complying with these rules, does set the right tone and expectations of our tenants from day one.