When I managed property for my clients turned landlords, I had to follow up with the tenants regularly. And while most of my tenants were wonderful, even my most model of citizens violated a term of their lease from time to time. The only trouble was, they didn’t even know they were violating their lease term. If you want to avoid a few common lease violating faux paus, pay attention to these 8 common mistakes.
No. 1: Letting someone stay with you for longer than a week
Most leases require you to notify the property owner in writing in the event that you have anyone living in the home who is not listed on the lease. Vacationing relatives and junior’s sleepovers aside, report it.
No. 2: Starting a home based business
I don’t mean to squash your entrepreneurial spirit, but home based business present liability issues for landlords. In fact, some neighborhoods black list certain kinds home based businesses altogether. Check with your property manager before embarking on any new venture.
No. 3: Signing up for dish TV or cable
You usually won’t get a slap on the wrist for the act of getting dish or cable itself, but you could get in trouble with your landlord for mounting a dish on the property or drilling holes for cable lines. And even though the provider might be all over the neighborhood, the reps won’t tell you that you need permission to do this.
No. 4: Pet Sitting
If your lease says “no pets”, it means no pets, even if you are just pet sitting. This one could cost you a fine or the equivalent to a landlord’s pet deposit –usually between $200 to $600.
No. 5: Having someone housesit for you
If you are going out of town and ask a friend to housesit for you and water your plants, you need to inform your landlord of this. It causes liability issues.
No. 6: Political support
Most leases have laws prohibiting placing a sign or even a window decal on their property in support of your favorite local political candidate. When it doubt, ask.
No. 7: Not registering your new car
If you buy a new car, you need to let your landlord know the make, model and plate number — especially if you have assigned parking.
No. 8: Waterbeds
If you want a waterbed, you need to get permission first. Many landlords have a “no waterbed” clause in their lease for several reasons — most having to do with water damage liability. Don’t risk it. Read your lease or ask first.
Leases are trickier to decipher than what you might think. A general rule of thumb I used for my tenants was that if they wanted to do something that would modify the property in any way, they should ask first. And while this approach brought up a lot of questions from tenants, it also helped my tenants avoid unnecessarily sticky situations.