NEIGHBOR COMPLAINTS ABOUT YOUR TENANT
You are sitting at dinner one night with your family when your phone rings. It is your neighbor who lives near your rental property. The neighbor wants to make sure you are aware that there have been way too many cars parked at the property, that is looks like an army lives there, and they had a loud party on Saturday night where the police showed up.
What do you do?
Well, there is some work that needs to be done. The first step would be to schedule an interior inspection. Remember to notify the tenant per your lease agreement, but not less than a minimum 12 hours prior to the inspection time. If you haven’t conducted an annual or quarterly inspection, that can be the reason for the inspection. Prior to the inspection, contact the local police department to confirm if a visit was made to the property, and if so, get a copy of the police report.
Another thing that can be done is to drive by the property, if local, to see if there are more cars than there should be at different times of the day.
What you are doing is looking to see if there is any evidence/proof of your neighbor’s call. If you should see more cars than should be at the property, it is a good idea to take photos. Remember that the tenant is allowed to have visitors.
On the day of inspection, you should perform a thorough inspection, but not by being overly intrusive. While you have a right to enforce the lease terms, the tenants still have a right to privacy. You are looking for evidence/proof of unauthorized occupants. It is also a good time to look for any possible unauthorized pets.
Upon completion of your inspection, should you see evidence of unauthorized occupants, unauthorized pets, and/or the police did have to visit the property, you can write up a notice to the tenant about what has been found as breach of the lease terms. This notice is called a 7 Day Notice (With Opportunity to Cure). This notice gives the tenant written notice that they have violated specific lease terms. The violations should be written specific. Examples of our ‘example’ situation would be:
Police had to visit the property due to a loud party. Disturbing the peace is a violation of your lease.
There is an unauthorized pet in the home. Without written approval, the pet is a violation of your lease and must be removed.
The notice gives the tenant 7 days to correct the violation(s), and should it happen again in the next 12 months, the lease can be terminated without further notice. After the 7 days have expired, you want to schedule with the tenant to go back and re-inspect.
If you are prepared to write the notice at the property, you do so, and give it to the tenant. Make sure to remember to take a photo of the notice for your records. If you are not ready to write the notice at the property, you can put it together and take it back the next day.
You go back to the property to re-inspect and everything looks great! No extra occupants and no unauthorized pets. This is great news! Then the week after the inspection, the neighbor calls because the police were back at the property again for noise.
What do you do?
The 7 Day Notice (With Opportunity to Cure) stated that if any of the violations occurred again within 12 months, the lease could be terminated. Currently, in 2017, Florida Landlord Tenant Law allows a landlord or agent to immediately begin the eviction process. However, it is best to proceed with caution. The first thing you should do is get a copy of the 2nd police report. After you receive that, you should then give the tenant a written notice, 7 Day Notice (No Opportunity). This notice tells the tenant about the repeated violation(s), and they now have 7 days to vacate the home. After the 7 days has expired, you go to the property to see if they are still there.
If the property is vacant AND keys were returned to you, then you have possession back of the property.
If the property appears to still be occupied OR it appears vacant but no keys were turned in, you will want to seek the advice of your Florida Real Estate attorney for further processes.
It’s not always easy being a Landlord, but if it were easy, everyone would be doing it!