Avoiding a Property Manager’s Worst Mistake
Last Updated: November 7, 2017
The worst mistake you can make, as a landlord or property manager, is to have no written lease or a bad lease. As a landlord or property manager, your lease is your first line of defense when it comes to addressing any issues that may arise between you and a tenant. If your written lease is bad (or doesn’t exist), you’re asking for trouble!
Far too many landlords try to use a do-it-yourself lease. Some may even go the extra mile and actually buy one from a document service like LegalZoom.com, or have an attorney draft one. When it comes to their lease, that’s not where a good property manager’s duties end, though.
Often landlords or property managers find that issues with tenants arise which were not contemplated in the original lease. This creates potentially expensive and time-consuming problems that could be addressed in a well-written lease. In these situations, a modification to the lease is often required or desirable. Changing a lease involves additional expense, and landlords are usually reluctant to spend more money on a lease for which they have already paid.
The most glaring problem with such “quick fixes” is that they are often insufficient to provide the legal protection for which the lease exists. This is largely due to the fact that the changes are made on an as-needed basis and, therefore, are more difficult to coherently integrate with the original document.
Landlords and property managers need to understand that a lease, just like their property management business, is a dynamic thing. Leases should be updated regularly to meet the needs of your property management business. Don’t think of having a lease drafted as a one-time event. Instead consider the drafting of a lease as just one (repeatable) step in an ongoing process of managing your property.
This shift in focus is important and necessary to properly using a lease agreement to protect your business. Once you realize that a lease should be regularly updated (or replaced), you’ll be one step closer to minimizing your property business’s risk and maximizing its long-term profitability.
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