10-things-landlords-need-know-lease-violations

Landlords that have tenants who are constantly violating their lease may be eager to follow through with the steps for an eviction. Other times, a lease violation notice is just an effective way to get the tenant to comply with the lease stipulations. For a Lease Violation, the tenant will have five judicial days to correct the violation. If the tenant does not correct the violation within this time frame, the landlord can proceed with the next step in the eviction process, which is an Unlawful Detainer and subsequent Summary Eviction. Lease Violations, especially in Las Vegas, are extremely effective ways of removing a tenant, but you do need to meet three very important criteria.

Lease must be Signed Correctly by Tenant

This first criteria may seem obvious but your lease must be signed correctly by the tenant. In most standard leases, every page needs to be initialed, the last page needs to be signed, and certain sections, such as the HOA section, need to be initialed as well. Make sure you go over every possible field for the tenant when filling out the lease agreement before they move in. This will make things far easier on you in the future.

Tenant in Violation of Lease?

The next important criteria is to determine if your tenant is actually in violation of the lease. The Lease Violation notice must state the section and paragraph that is being violated, and also must state what the tenant is doing to violate the lease. It’s important to make sure your lease has clear language and that you can identify which section(s) of the lease the tenant is in violation of to ensure the process is effective.

Always Have Proof

The last criteria that’s vital is to ensure that you can prove that your tenant is violating the lease. In many cases, when lease violations comes down to “he said-she said,” the judge is going to side with the tenant. Nip that in the bud by making sure you have any HOA violation notices, Citations, past due utility bills, pictures for evidence, or anything similar to make sure you can back up your claim and get this tenant out. When it comes to evicting a tenant, the more proof and evidence (that the tenant is violating the lease) the landlord has, the better.

Unauthorized Tenants

There are many sections of a lease a tenant may be in violation of. One of the most common lease violations occurs when a tenant has unauthorized people living in the unit and is covered under the “Occupants” and/or “Guests” section of the lease. It is important that this section of the lease be complete and that it clearly states how many occupants are authorized to live in the unit, as well as listing them specifically by name. You must also have reasonable proof that the unauthorized person is not a short term guest. You, your maintenance people’s own observation, or a neighbor’s observation should be sufficient enough evidence to move forward with the eviction.

Getting Tenants to Pay Utilities

Another lease section that can be troublesome for landlords to enforce is the ‘Utilities’ section of the lease. We have previously discussed the difficulties of getting tenants to pay utilities however, if the tenant has not connected utilities in their name per the terms of this section of your lease, it is cause for a Lease Violation notice. If a tenant has the utilities in their name but has not paid the utilities to the point where the utilities are being shut off or the property has been threatened with a lien for unpaid utilities, a lease violation notice will be effective.

Unauthorized Pets

An often violated section of the lease is the ‘Pets’ section. You may use this section for authorized animals in which the details of the agreement are not being upheld. For unauthorized animals, you must have reasonable proof that the animal is living on the premises. For example, photographs, written reports from Animal Control, or statements from neighbors or anyone else in a position to observe the animal consistently in or on the property. This is sometimes a difficult problem because the tenant may claim the animal is gone when in fact they are not. Neighbors can be very helpful here since they are in a position to observe (and often hear) whether the animal is still present.

Additional Possible Violations

The ‘Restrictions’ portion of the lease typically refers to recreation vehicles or inoperable or unlicensed vehicles. The lease needs to be clear if there is an exception; pictures, as well as City or County citations, can be shown as proof. The tenant must remove the vehicle or do whatever is necessary to abide by this section of the lease in order to be compliant.

It is rare that a tenant violates the ‘Alterations’ section of a lease but it does happen. If the tenant has made unauthorized alterations to the property, they must return it to its original state to correct the lease violation.

Most leases require the tenant to provide the landlord with proof of insurance and a workable key. A Lease Violation can compel the tenant to comply with those types of things when they have not done so in a timely manner.

When a tenant is in violation of either the ‘Conveyances and Uses’ section or the ‘Illegal Activities’ section of the lease, it is likely to be more appropriate to serve the tenant with a 3-Day Nuisance Notice to Quit.

Additionally, most leases have sections requiring the tenant to keep the premises in a good and clean condition, and provide minor maintenance such as changing the air filters regularly. Since this is often a subjective matter, pictures or actual health code violations, or city/county violations, are crucial if this is the section the tenant is violating.

Landlord Inspections

Tenants must provide reasonable access to the landlord for inspection or repairs. Unless it is an emergency such as fire or flood, this does require a 24-hour written notice which must be given at a reasonable hour. If the tenant consistently does not allow you or workers on your behalf access to the unit for repairs or inspection, it is a lease violation. Particularly if it is a repair of an essential service, it is important to document whenever you or a maintenance person on your behalf has been denied access.

HOA Violations

As we have discussed in several of our early posts, HOA violations can be tricky to deal with. Tenants must always be given a copy of the CC&R’s when governed by an HOA, and it is helpful if you have the tenant sign something acknowledging receipt of the document. Depending on what the HOA violation is for, a 3-day Nuisance notice may be more appropriate. If the HOA violation is not covered under the criterion for a Nuisance notice, it can be used for a Lease Violation notice. In this case, it is extremely important that not only the lease be signed by the tenant, but any section referencing the HOA is initialed by the tenant.

Hire an Eviction Services Professional

At the end of the day, there are many things every landlord should know about lease violations. Protecting your investment, and yourself, should be your top priority when renting out your property to a tenant. However, finding the time to properly manage your rental property, on top of keeping track of potential tenant lease violations, can be overwhelming for anyone. For this very reason, the absolute best route to take is to hire a Las Vegas eviction services professional (or a local eviction services professional if you’re property is located in another State) when an eviction is needed. A reputable eviction services professional can help speed up the eviction process when lease violations occur, while ensuring that you’re doing everything legally and efficiently.