Landlords are often frustrated by tenants who do not abide by the rules

According to Realtor Magazine, owning residential investment property is "rife" with challenges ranging from clogged plumbing to sometimes dealing with criminals as tenants. Nevertheless, despite occasional tenant problems, savvy real estate professionals who are long-time investors realize that the challenges sometimes presented by being a landlord are "well worth the trade-off of having a stable investment." The key is to learn how to manage situations where tenants fail to abide by the rules.

The author of an article published on the Rentalutions website notes that there are a number of things which can trigger landlord-tenant disputes. Sometimes, tenants will pack up and move in the middle of the night. Other tenants trash the rental unit and leave a mountain of garbage and filth for the landlord to take care of. Still other tenants chronically fail to pay rent on time.

In some situations, a reminder delivered to the tenant-or an assessed late charge-can serve to resolve the issue of missed rental payments. Unfortunately, the situation may spiral out of control and the landlord has on its hands a tenant who simply will not pay rent and, in addition, refuses to leave the rental unit. This can create huge and potentially expensive headaches for the landlord.

A recently decided Delaware case, McManus v. Justice of Peace Court No. 13, is illustrative of the frustrating problems that can occur when a residential tenant obstinately fails to pay their rent and, instead, pours their time and energy into tenaciously trying to fend off an eviction. In McManus, an apartment dweller fell behind in her rent payments and ended up owing more than $4,200 to her landlord.

The McManus landlord filed an action for rent and a writ of possession in the Justice of the Peace court. The tenant counterclaimed saying that the landlord sought possession as retaliation for her complaint about an insect infestation. The Justice of the Peace court granted the landlord a writ of summary possession. The tenant thereupon stubbornly-although ultimately unsuccessfully-pursued an appeal all the way to the Supreme Court of Delaware.

Keep tenants happy

Fortunately, most tenants do not fail to pay their rent. Cases like McManus show that, if a landlord has good residential tenants, it is important to try to hang on to them. B2RFinance offers the following useful suggestions for landlords who desire to make the extra effort to retain good tenants:

· Educate tenants on the rules they are expected to follow.

· Stay on top of repairs since nothing sours the landlord-tenant relationship quicker than when repairs are not made on time.

· Contact your tenants after they move in and ask them if everything is OK.

· Consider giving good tenants a small gift periodically as a way to show appreciation.

· Send tenants a welcome letter and let them know you are glad to have them as tenants and not to hesitate to contact you if there is a problem.

· Train your tenants to pay the rent on time by being consistent with your early rent reminder communications as well as the timing of a letter if a tenant is late with a payment.

Seeking legal help

While landlords should make every effort to strive for happy and long-term tenants, not every tenant may abide by the rules. If you are having a problem with a tenant which appears to be morphing into a significant dispute, you should contact a Delaware attorney experienced in handing landlord and tenant disputes.