uh oh. But it is not rare.
Let me start by saying that managing your own properties starting out is the way to go.
Because you must know the laws and what you can and cannot do as a landlord. Perhaps you have no interest in managing the properties yourself and plan to immediately hire a management company. *Warning*: If you don’t understand property management, you won’t know how to hire a property management company or if they are doing a good job. I’m pretty sure when I say that most property management companies are no good.
Now, to the problem at hand: There is a tenant on your property!
1. When you purchased the property, you should have received the deposits and tenant agreements from the previous owner. If you didn’t, you got off to a bad start. If the landlord says he had no leases or deposits with the tenant but the tenant says he had a lease with the previous landlord, ask the tenant for copies of the lease he has. If they can’t produce a contract either, there’s nothing binding you to the above terms.
2. Hopefully you’ve received the tenant’s deposits because when you move out you want something to cover the repairs you’ll need to make, plus you’ll be responsible for reimbursing any deposits they’ve paid that aren’t used to pay rent or damages . (even if it was paid to the previous owner who didn’t pass it on to you).
3. You are legally bound to abide by any prior agreements and terms the tenants have (again, as long as you have a copy of these agreements). Consumer protection laws protect the tenant and bind them to their previous agreements until those agreements expire.
4. If there is no lease, send all tenants their new leases immediately. They are allowed to sign or move. Then you will manage your property according to your terms.
5. Owning a property and managing tenants are two very different businesses. You must learn property management if you are going to have tenants. I wrote a book, The Essential Handbook for Landlords, available on Amazon, which is a great starting point.
You own the property, you’re the one in charge. You need good contracts and it is essential that you know the local laws and how to manage tenants.
6. When you decide to hire a property management (PM) company, know that they manage according to your paperwork and rules. I owned a PM business for years and most owners came in with their own pre-signed contracts and rules. Some allowed pets, others didn’t; some allowed smoking, some didn’t, etc., etc. We enforced the rules of the owners. What you do with your property is up to you: the PM company enforces its rules (if the company is good…).
Property and/or tenant management goes back to contracts. And your local laws. Every state is different. Know your laws.
Also, owning rental properties is a business. When any tenant is “bad”, even behind in payments, start the eviction IMMEDIATELY. I sympathetically listen to their reasons, but the rules are the rules and I won’t bend them for any of them because, if you give in to one, you must give in to all of them (consumer protection laws, again).
Have you ever bought a property with an already established tenant?