Orlando Property Management Horror Stories | Landlords Beware!

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Orlando Property Management Horror Stories | Landlords Beware!

Every landlord in Orlando has probably heard some pretty terrible horror stories about bad rental experiences from other rental property owners. Perhaps you’ve lived through a few yourself. 

You know there are tenants out there who can make a landlord’s life very difficult. They can make you wish you’d never invested in real estate at all. As professional Orlando property managers, we have owners coming to us for help all the time, with stories about evictions that last for months, tenants who won’t pay rent, excessive property damage, and pets disguised as emotional support animals that tore up floors and walls without any kind of a pet fee or pet rent to cover the costs. 

Have you had the misfortune of experiencing a terrible tenant or a series of unfortunate events yourself? 

If not, you’re lucky. 

Investing in Central Florida real estate is a great idea. There is a lot of opportunity here, even now with the market still competitive and well-maintained rental homes still in high demand. Buying rental property here is an excellent way to build wealth and earn some recurring and consistent income. 

However, being a landlord is also full of risk and liability. If you’re a full-time landlord who isn’t working with a property manager, you’re taking on even more risk. You need to be prepared, and you need to have the tools and resources in place to recover from catastrophes and surprises. 

We don’t want to scare you. But, we do want you to understand how critical it is to screen tenants properly, maintain the condition and value of your property, and surround yourself with experts who can offer resources, support, and assistance when things begin to move outside of your control. 

Let’s take a look at some of the horror stories that are most common when it comes to renting out Orlando properties, and how you can avoid disruptive situations like these. 

Show Me the Money: What If Tenants Don’t Pay?

Consistent rent collection is the cornerstone of your success. It’s hard to succeed as an investor when you don’t have any income. And, one of the biggest fears for any landlord is that rent won’t get paid. 

What do you do when that fear manifests, and you’re suddenly trying to collect rent that’s overdue? 

Your cash flow and return on investment (ROI) depend on consistent rental payments. Plus, you have your own bills to pay, including a mortgage, taxes, and property insurance. The horror stories about chasing down late rent every month or having to evict nonpaying tenants are understandably frightening. 

There are some things you can do to avoid unpaid rent. 

  • First, implement a thorough tenant screening process. This will help ensure you’re only placing good renters with a history of paying on time. Verify income to ensure they earn enough to afford the rent. Talk to their current and former landlords and ask about whether rent was paid on-time. 
  • Write a strong lease agreement that holds tenants accountable for on-time rent payments. There needs to be an enforceable rent collection policy that you follow consistently. Include late fees and collect them when the rent is late and the grace period ends.
  • Collect rent electronically. Online rental payments or in-app transfers are preferable to most tenants, and reduces the chances the rent will be late.
  • Develop a strong resident relationship. You’ll find that tenants who have a respectful and positive relationship in place with their landlords are less likely to pay rent late (or not at all).
  • Leave rent collection to a third party, such as an Orlando property manager. This creates a buffer between you and your tenants, and you don’t have to have uncomfortable conversations or give eviction notices. 

If your tenants do not pay and you find yourself having to evict, make sure you understand the legal process and follow it to the letter. An eviction attorney or professional property manager can help you ensure expensive mistakes aren’t made that will delay the process and cost you more money. 

Getting Cleaned Out: Bad Tenants Can Get Worse

Nonpayment of rent isn’t the worst that can happen with tenants, unfortunately.

Imagine a situation where your tenants have moved out, and you go inside of the property to conduct your move-out inspection, preparing to return the security deposit. What if you find damage that exceeds the deposit? You’ll probably have to pay much more than you expected in order to restore the condition of your rental and prepare it for a new tenant. 

Worse, you might find that a tenant has taken something that doesn’t belong to them. What if you notice the refrigerator or the washing machine is missing? 

Tenants are unpredictable, and this highlights the need to screen them thoroughly. It’s important to do more than a cursory credit check.

Conduct an inspection or two throughout the lease period as well. It might seem like you’ve lucked out when you have tenants who never request maintenance. But, no maintenance requests means there’s not an easy opportunity to get inside the property and take a look around. Schedule an annual safety inspection or a maintenance walk-through so you can be sure everything is in good condition and the lease is being respected. 

It’s 10pm, Do You Know if Your Rental Property is Standing?

Sometimes, the worst-case scenario isn’t related to your tenant at all. Instead, it’s a problem with your investment that puts its condition and value at risk. This is a huge problem for landlords. 

  • What if the tenant reports an emergency repair while you’re out of town? Maybe it’s a holiday weekend or you’re on vacation. Will you have the capacity to respond right away to a water heater that’s burst or a fire that’s burned down the property or a tree that’s crashed through the roof during some tropical weather? You need an emergency plan in place. 
  • How will you handle phone calls in the middle of the night? If you have to respond to an emergency, do you have a reliable list of vendors and contractors you can call for help? We have heard horror stories about landlords not being able to find a vendor when one is desperately needed. Don’t put yourself in that position; establish relationships.

Anything that puts your investment property at risk is a disaster. You need to be prepared for extreme Florida weather, deferred maintenance, roof leaks, floods and fires, and anything else that can damage your property or impair your ability to earn money from it. 

Avoid these potential situations by working with a property manager. This will give you the freedom and flexibility to be out of town and away from your rental properties as long as you’d like. You’ll know you have access to licensed and insured vendors who will respond immediately to any problems at your property. And, you won’t have to worry about phone calls in the middle of the night or tenants who are stressed because of an emergency repair. 

There’s less risk of deferred and unreported maintenance, as well, which saves you a lot of money. 

Try Not to Get Invited to Court

Legal mistakes are a bummer. Imagine making a fair housing mistake that delivers a $16,000 fine. 

There are a number of state and federal laws that need your attention, and if you violate a law, even unintentionally, you can find yourself in a world of pain. There will be claims, investigations, lawsuits, and probable court appearances. There will always be money spent. The damage to your reputation won’t help, either. 

The laws are constantly changing. It’s easy to make a mistake, even if you’re an experienced landlord. 

It’s essential that you’re up-to-date on:

  • Fair housing laws
  • Protections and accommodations in place for people with disabilities
  • Habitability standards
  • Security deposit laws

If you cannot comfortably understand the difference between a service animal and a companion animal or you’re not sure what the difference is between tenant damage and normal wear and tear, you need some help with legal compliance. This is not a risk you want to take because the horror stories can get very expensive and put your entire investment strategy in danger. 

Why take these risks? 

Partner with an Orlando property management company so you don’t have to worry about your blind spots. When you’re choosing a management company to work with, make sure you’re selecting a team that understands the risks involved in renting out property. Make sure they’ve solved problems and learned enough to prevent their own horror stories. 

Anyone can collect rent and schedule maintenance. You need a property management leader who is willing to invest in you and the success of your property. 

Contact Property ManagerIf you’re hoping to avoid horror stories like these, it’s essential to surround yourself with professionals who are experts in the local Orlando rental market and the entire property management industry. We can help. Please contact us at Homevest Management, where you’ll find expert Orlando property management, real estate, property rentals, and HOA management. We serve all of Central Florida, including Winter Garden, Doctor Phillips, Baldwin Park, Winter Springs, and Windermere.

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