Trash piled up around the house, wet towels laying on the floor, dishes stacked in the sink. We can all be untidy from time to time, but when does it change from being a little messy to living in an unsafe space? One of the most important, and most tension-filled, aspects of property management is communicating with your tenants about keeping the rental home clean. An unkempt home will bring down your property’s value, and can lead to expensive clean up when your tenant moves out. In addition, seeing your investment property deteriorate because of an untidy tenant can be frustrating. So, how do you deal with an untidy tenant? Read below to find out how the top Atlanta residential property management recommends handling this situation.
Dealing with an Untidy Tenant Versus an Unsafe Tenant
At what point does a tenant move from being untidy to being unsafe? Before you talk with your tenant about their cleaning habits you need to determine if they’re just untidy or if they are creating an unsafe living environment. A tenant who leaves dirty clothes lying around or doesn’t clean the toilets more than once every few months may gross you out, but chances are they won’t cause permanent damage to your rental home. However, if your tenant’s behavior makes your rental home hazardous you should step in to explain the tenant’s responsibility. Examples of hazards include:
- Messes that attract rodents or other pests
- Animal urine or feces in the home
- Mold growing in wet areas
- Anything that blocks air vents or a furnace intake
Your property manager will check for cleanliness during a routine property inspection. Property inspections are always scheduled beforehand with the tenant, and most of the time your tenant will straighten up in preparation for the inspection. If your Atlanta property manager notes pests, a persistent bad smell, or other hazardous conditions during a scheduled inspection it may be time to sit down with your tenant and talk about their behavior.
What are Landlords and Tenants Responsible For?
According to the Georgia Landlord Tenant Handbook a landlord is responsible for maintaining the structure of the property, keeping utilities in working order, and ensuring the tenant has safe access to the property. A landlord must also keep the rental home in a safe and habitable condition, and respond to maintenance requests in a timely manner. A leaky roof, broken windows, or rotten siding all fall under a landlord’s responsibility.
Your tenant is responsible for most of the daily aspects of maintaining the rental home. Cleaning up after a pet, taking out the trash, and making sure the home is generally tidy all fall under the tenant’s responsibilities. If there is any question about who is responsible for a certain aspect of maintaining the rental home you and your tenant should first consult the lease agreement. In order to avoid confusion we write clear and concise lease agreements and review them with the tenant before signing.
How Your Atlanta Residential Property Management Company Communicates Expectations
Hazardous conditions can oftentimes be avoided through clear communication about tenant responsibility. Most lease agreements state a tenant is responsible for maintaining the cleanliness of the home. Some tenants only need a gentle reminder of their responsibilities, which is why routine inspections are so important. Talk to your property manager today if you have concerns about your tenant’s cleanliness. They can schedule a routine inspection to check the state of the home. They will take note of lease violations and the general state of the property to give you peace of mind. Property inspection reports are available 24/7 through your online owner portal.
It is also important to remember that security deposits exist in part to cover expenses beyond normal wear and tear after your tenant moves out. If you have an untidy tenant who is not causing hazardous conditions you may need to be content knowing you can use the security deposit to hire a cleaning crew, replace some carpets, or repaint. However, if your tenant’s behavior causes expensive or irreparable damage it is time to communicate expectations as laid out in the lease agreement.
Why Atlanta Property Managers Need to Know About Hoarding
Hoarding is a hot topic, with numerous television shows dedicated to the disability in the last decade. What do property owners and managers need to know about hoarding? Since 2013 hoarding has been a defined mental disorder. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th Edition (DSM-5) defines hoarding as,
“Persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions, regardless of their actual value. This difficulty is due to a perceived need to save the items, and to distress associated with discarding them. The difficulty discarding possessions results in the accumulation of possessions that congest and clutter active living areas and substantially compromises their intended use. If living areas are uncluttered, it is only because of the interventions of third parties (e.g., family members, cleaners, authorities). The hoarding causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning (including maintaining a safe environment for self and others). The hoarding is not attributable to another medical condition (e.g., brain injury, cerebrovascular disease, Prader-Willi syndrome). The hoarding is not better explained by the symptoms of another mental disorder (e.g., obsessions in obsessive-compulsive disorder, decreased energy in major depressive disorder, delusions in schizophrenia or another psychotic disorder, cognitive deficits in major neurocognitive disorder, restricted interests in autism spectrum disorder).”
Hoarding can be a difficult disorder for Atlanta residential property management companies to navigate. Property owners are required to make sure their property is safe and habitable. According to the DSM-5 hoarders accumulate possessions in a way that makes their living areas unusable, which often means emergency exits or air vents are blocked. Hoarding can also lead to insect and rodent infestations, mold, and other hazardous conditions. However, hoarding is a recognized disability protected by the Fair Housing Act, and as such reasonable accommodations must be made for tenants who struggle with hoarding.
What to Do if You Discover Your Tenant is a Hoarder
If your renter is diagnosed as a hoarder he or she can request reasonable accommodations in order to stay in the rental home. What are reasonable accommodations in this scenario? Here is what we recommend:
- Sit down with your tenant to create a plan. Be respectful at all times while you work out a strategy to get the home back into shape. Give your tenant a reasonable amount of time to address the problem, and make sure both parties sign a written agreement before moving forward with a plan to clean the space.
- After the specified time you or your Atlanta property manager must inspect the property. If nothing has changed you can consider eviction. According to the Fair Housing Act a landlord can deny housing if they can prove keeping the tenant would put undue financial or administrative burden on their rental property business. Hoarding can cause additional financial and administrative burden by leading to code violations and property damage.
- Even if your tenant has cleaned and disposed of enough items to satisfy the agreement, hoarding habits may return. You or your property manager should perform regular property inspections. Be respectful and sensitive to your tenant, and create a new agreement if the hoarding gets out of hand again. There is no limit to the number of times a tenant can request reasonable accommodations for their disability.
An experienced, professional property manager can help you deal with a tenant who is hoarding. Oftentimes a property owner can let their emotions get in the way of acting fairly toward their tenants. Your Atlanta residential property management company acts as a third party, enforcing the lease and any other agreements respectfully and in accordance with the Fair Housing Act. If you suspect your tenant may be hoarding talk to one of our property managers. We can help you speak with your tenant and create a plan that works for everyone.
How Professional Property Managers Take Care of Your Rental Property
One of the advantages of hiring professional property management is the peace of mind you gain. Our property managers are experts at caring for your rental property. As part of our full range of property management services we perform regular inspections to check for lease compliance and maintenance issues. In addition, we perform cost-effective maintenance, such as periodic AC and heating system check ups, to extend the life of your rental home’s systems.
At Specialized Property Management Atlanta we want you to enjoy your investment, not worry about it. We take care of the day-to-day aspects of property management, as well as the once-in-a-while tasks. Our property managers know how to communicate clearly and respectfully with tenants, leading to less turnover and fewer evictions. We remind tenants of their responsibilities, and check in with them regularly.
If you are considering hiring an Atlanta property manager contact our office today. Our clients often tell us the money they save by working with property management experts more than offsets the cost of our management fees. Additionally, some management fees are tax deductible. And working with full-service property managers means you can sit back and relax knowing your investment is in good hands. To get started today call our office for a professional rental management quote at (404) 596-8454.