If you think it is necessary, you can collect a SEPARATE security deposit from a lease guarantor. By law, you are limited to one month’s deposit from the tenant, but guarantors are not covered by the residential landlord/tenant act. They can agree to be liable for legal fees (which tenants cannot agree to) and they can be required to pay any amount of security deposit IN ADDITION TO the one month you get from your tenant.
Why would you require that? Suppose tenant is not financially strong. Maybe guarantor is, maybe they aren’t. But, you don’t want to chase down the guarantor and sue them and try to collect if the tenant defaults or damages the property. The additional security deposit gives you added protection.
Interested in more legal tools and ideas for Alabama residential tenants? Click “Resources” tab above to see when the 6-hour Landlord Tenant Law or the 3-hour FAQ Landlord Law classes will be in a city near you. Both earn CE credit and also open to public. If you cannot attend in person, both classes can be taken live but over the Internet and are also available by streaming video. There is no CE credit for classes you do not physically attend in person.
If your lease or your Rules, Regulations & Fee Schedules have this requirement, you can make your tenants self-report property conditions once a month. Why would you want to do that?
- It gives you early warning of problems as tenants go down a checklist of items on your form, and report condition and any observed defects. Your form should also ask about additional occupants on the premises, and any new animals.
- Having to self-report every month tends to make tenants more careful of your property.
- Reports showing no defects or damages prevents the tenant from later claiming something was wrong, usually after they default and are looking for excuses to make it all the landlord’s fault.
- There is a high probability that if the tenant lies on the reports, there is significant tenant-caused damage, and then the tenant later files for bankruptcy, the landlord’s claims for damages will not be discharged in bankruptcy. That is because the tenant engaged in fraud. The claim will still have to be paid.
- Refusal to complete the form is an early warning sign of tenant damage, illegal occupants, or illegal animals. Better to know now, rather than at lease end, isn’t it?
- If you are selling or refinancing your rental property, the monthly reports are a good due diligence item. If you include on the form the beginning and ending date of the lease, the monthly rent, the security deposit being held, and the lack of any claims against landlord, those letters also constitute “tenant estoppel letters.” Most buyers and lenders require such letters, but it is often awkward having to ask for them because landlords don’t want tenants knowing their plans. The information in this paragraph can be included at the end of the form, in an inconspicuous manner.
Self reporting does not take the place of your own inspections. They are merely a supplement–another tool in your arsenal of good property management. Keep your form short. If you want, you can vary the items each month for the less-important matters.
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Sometimes we offer rent discounts to obtain a tenant quickly, or to attract a long-term tenant. Usually it works out okay. Sometimes the tenant we stretched to secure turns out to be the tenant from Hell. Hedge your bets with a lease clause that says something like the following:
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