In this day and age it is not unusual to hear association boards and owners complain about “renters” as a generic group. In fact, renters seem to have a negative stigma associated with them based on a few bad apples. But who is really at fault here: is it the renters themselves or the absentee landlords that rent irresponsibly and fail to ensure their tenants comply with the rules and covenants of the communities in which they lease?
Perhaps the answer to this question is not important and the only thing that truly matters is getting renters to comply with association requirements and to be good neighbors. But how is an association to accomplish this if the landlord-owner is not cooperating or not accessible to the association?
Below are some recommendations and ideas that have proved successful for communities for helping them deal with disruptive tenants:
- Require landlord-owners to mandate adherence to the association’s governing documents in their leases. That way, violations of the rules will provide grounds for the owner to evict a problem tenant.
- Require landlord-owners to give their tenants copies of the community’s governing documents. Some associations require owners to provide proof, in the form of a signed acknowledgment, that they have provided the documents to their tenants.
- Require landlord-owners to provide copies of their tenants’ leases (allowing redaction of personal information such as salary, employment, social security numbers, etc.), along with contact information such as name, phone number, and email.
- Require landlord-owners to sign written authorizations allowing associations to communicate directly with their tenants. Failure to obtain such authorization could result in liability exposure for associations based on interference with contract.
- Encourage owners to be responsible landlords. Encourage landlords to screen their tenants carefully and conduct both credit and background checks. While associations should encourage due diligence by owners, they cannot mandate such actions or participate directly in the tenant selection process. Boards should neither select tenants, nor demand the right to approve the owners’ choices.
- If violations do occur, make sure you follow the community’s enforcement policy and communicate through the landlord-owner unless you have been provided with written authority to communicate with tenants as well.
- Keep good records of all complaints and violations, including but not limited to photos, videos, written communications, and recordings. This will prove useful should the association be required to initiate covenant enforcement legal action.
- Consider amending the declaration to provide the association with more teeth to enforce restrictions against renters and possibly provide the association with authority to evict noncompliant tenants when landlord-owners refuse to do so.
Prior to taking the above steps, make sure to check with the community’s legal counsel to ensure none of the above actions violate the association’s current governing documents.
If you have any questions concerning enforcement of restrictions against tenants and problem landlords, please contact any Altitude Community Law attorney at 303.432.9999.