Burt M. Polson - Commercial Real Estate Broker

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When is a landlord like a teenager?

My teenagers are great kids...most of the time. But, every now and then I hear of a landlord who is either pestering, retaliatory or unresponsive to their tenants.

Here are three such cases:

Listen to me, not your client

Teresa was busy taking a call with a client when her landlord, Harold came walking in. This was a regular, almost weekly ritual. Harold proceeded to interrupt Teresa to talk to her about a building issue that could had waited.

Not only interrupting her, Harold continued to talk with her even though she was still holding the phone next to her ear. Teresa eventually asked her client if she could return her call.

No rent? No access for you!

David was a new landlord with a small retail building. His tenant, Ben, was habitually late with his rent. David was getting frustrated as he just received the current month’s rent on the 12th of the month; this is the fifth time in a row.

The following month when the fifth came and went with no rent, David hired a locksmith to change the locks early on the morning of the sixth. “I’ll show him,” David thought!

Lack of movement

Sebastian, a tenant of George, was renting a house when the main sewer line clogged up. Sebastian called George and asked him to hire a plumber to take care of the problem.

George said he would call a sewer company to take a look at it. Several hours went by and no one came to fix the problem. Sebastian called again and George didn’t answer.

Morning came and still the problem persisted and the landlord never returned Sebastian’s call. Sebastian decided to call the sewer company himself. The plumber came out and cleared the drain. Sebastian paid the $90 service charge.

You have rights!

These are three good examples of what not to do as a landlord. Continually “visiting” a tenant let alone interrupting their quiet enjoyment of their tenancy, unlawfully “evicting” a tenant or an unresponsive landlord involving a repair are all in violation of the lease and possibly the civil code or law.

A landlord is to not continually check-in, tour the property or “see how things are going” on a weekly or even monthly basis. Quarterly check-ins may even be pushing it so be sure to give your tenant their undisturbed use allowed.

The proper way to place a late paying tenant on notice could be a phone call and letter with a late fee on the first offense. If it happens again you could have the tenant served a three-day notice to pay rent or quit. A third time, the tenant is in jeopardy of being in default of the lease.

Lastly, if the lease requires a landlord to maintain the premises he must be timely in his response to an emergency request. The tenant has every right to hire a vendor and deduct the cost from the rent or ask for reimbursement from the landlord.

Burt M. Polson, CCIM, is a real estate broker with ACRES Real Estate Services Inc. helping clients sell, buy and lease real estate. Reach him at 707-254-8000 or burt@acresinfo.com.

An ACRES Real Estate Services, Inc. Company