It’s not fun, but at times renters violate the terms of their lease in ways that result in a fine. There are several causes why a renter may risk being fined and lots of violations that could lead to a fine. Yet, regardless of the scenario, fining for renter violations is a delicate business that is easy to get wrong. It should only be done after all other methods of communication have been exhausted, and the renter still won’t comply with the lease agreement. Let’s discuss a couple of common reasons a Belchertown property manager may fine a renter, best practices for doing so, and some important pitfalls to avoid.
When a Renter Violates the Lease
The most typical reasons for fining a renter are when they’ve violated the terms of their lease agreement. This could be anything, but most of the time, it is:
- Late rent
- Unauthorized pet
- Unauthorized occupant
- Unauthorized vehicle
- Noise violation
- Failure to provide an updated or renewed insurance policy
- Property damage caused by renter negligence
Coping with lease violations can be problematic because you want to make sure that the fine is fair and proportional to the offense. It is vital to have clear language in your lease about what will get you fined and how much those fines will be. Penalties must also be consistently enforced for all renters, not just selectively applied.
Best Practices for Fining a Renter
After thoroughly reviewing your lease terms to ensure that your renter has violated them, you need to first get evidence of the lease violation. This can be achieved through pictures, written statements from other renters or witnesses, and documentation of any previous communication with the renter about the breach.
Once you have enough evidence, the next step is to issue a warning to the renter and give them a chance to correct their behavior. The only exception is late rent; late fees or fines related to late rent payments can typically be applied without warning.
If the renter doesn’t follow the rules, a fine can be issued according to the terms of the lease agreement. Use official communication methods such as a certified letter or email to inform the renter of the fine and how it will be collected. It is advisable to carefully document all communication and actions taken if the problem escalates and legal action must be pursued.
Pitfalls to Avoid
It’s worth remembering that fining a renter should never be used as a form of retaliation or harassment. Fines should only be given out when they are fair and needed to enforce the lease terms.
Fines should also be consistent – not arbitrarily issuing them to certain renters but not others. This can establish a hostile living environment and lead to potential legal issues. Overall, fines should only be used as a last resort to ensure the safety and well-being of all renters and the Belchertown property itself.
What’s more, it’s necessary to follow all state and local laws regarding rent increases, late fees, and other rental regulations. Failing to do so could result in unpleasant legal consequences.
Fining renters should never be the first resort, but occasionally it is best to guarantee a safe and compliant living environment for all renters. By knowing the reasons and best practices for fining a renter and avoiding potential pitfalls, you can positively manage lease violations and maintain a positive relationship with your renters.
Working with renters who violate their leases can be hard and time-consuming. Rather than going it alone, think about calling in the experts at Real Property Management Bay State West to assist you! We offer a full range of property management services, freeing you from the unwanted business of fining renters. To learn more, contact us online.
We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.