In recent years, South Carolina has developed one of the highest eviction rates in the nation. This is, in part, due to lax eviction laws and low filing costs.
The reality is that even if it costs little to file for an eviction, a high tenant turnover rate still leads to financial loss. If you find yourself evicting tenants often, it's time to reevaluate your lease enforcement efforts.
Lease enforcement is an important part of protecting your property and addressing problems with tenants before they get out of hand. As experienced Columbia property managers, we can help.
Read on to learn the do's and don'ts of lease enforcement.
Do Start With a Clear Lease
Strong lease enforcement doesn't just start with security deposits and tenant background checks. It also starts with a clearly written lease that outlines all expectations and consequences for lease violations.
Keep in mind that your lease cannot violate South Carolina tenant laws. That said, the rights and duties of South Carolina tenants broadly include reasonable care for the property they live in. This includes keeping the unit safe and clean, refraining from disturbing neighbors, and preventing deliberate damage to the property, all of which you should include in your lease.
Do Practice Equal and Consistent Lease Enforcement
If you're not addressing lease violations as they arise, tenants will get the message that the lease is more of a suggestion than a binding contract. This can lead to repeated or escalating violations and resistance when you finally do issue a warning.
It's also crucial that you enforce the lease equally with all of your tenants. If one tenant seems to get away with noise violations while another gets a warning the second they're creating a disturbance, it can come across as discriminatory. To avoid liabilities, make sure that all tenants are held accountable at all times.
Don't Forget Documentation
To lower the rate of evictions, we recommend using a warning system. For example, you may issue two warnings for the same violation and a more serious consequence (e.g., fines or eviction) if the violation occurs a third time.
When you do issue warnings or enforce consequences, make sure that you keep a written record. This will make it easier to have a conversation with tenants about repeated issues you've had with them. If you do have to evict a tenant, this paper trail will strengthen your case.
Need Help Managing Lease Violations?
It's time to address the high eviction rate in South Carolina. Proper lease enforcement can lower the eviction rate, protect your property, and reduce tenant turnover. If you're struggling to keep up with lease enforcement, we can help.
PMI Palmetto provides property management services to landlords in the Columbia area. We can take over everything from tenant screening to rent collection to lease enforcement. To learn more about our services, contact us today.