Are Bad Neighbors Driving Your Good Tenants Away?
Although your rental property may be a well-maintained, cozy unit with universal appeal and you might be the world’s best property manager, what happens when a bad neighbor makes it difficult for you to attract or keep decent tenants? While property managers have some control over what their own tenants can and cannot do in a rental property, there’s not much that can be done about bad neighbors and what they do on their own property. According to Jennifer Maughn of Rent Prep, here are three common bad neighbor practices, and some suggestions on what property managers can do to minimize the effect bad neighbors may have on current and future tenants.
Bad Neighbor #1. Unattractive Property
Whether its piles of junk, inoperable cars or a poorly maintained home and yard, an unattractive neighboring property can really drag your rental property’s appeal down.
Even if your rental property is well-maintained and landscaped, it doesn’t take much for prospective tenants to glance next door and wonder what kind of person they will be living next to if they choose to move in. Seeing ugly property every day may be one of those things that prospective tenants feel like they simply can’t live with.
Cosmetically, you can minimize the view from your own rental property by using some creative landscaping methods. Consider installing a privacy fence between your property and the un-kept yard. Try planting fast-growing trees that will soon be tall enough to screen out the unsightly view. If one of the rental property’s window overlooks the neighbor’s ugly yard, try installing dual blinds that only open at the top half, allowing light and a view of the sky while blocking out a downward view of the mess.
From a legal standpoint, see what kind of regulations the city has in place for yard or lot maintenance standards. Many cities have outlined minimum requirements for neighborhoods. Get the law on your side and let officials know that the neighbor is violating city codes.
Bad Neighbor #2. Big, Loud Dogs
Dealing with the noise from a neighbor’s dog can be one of the most frustrating things for a property manager because it can be a deal breaker for otherwise qualified tenants who love the rental property, but don’t want to deal with loud dogs. Similarly, neighbors who allow their big dogs to roam around the neighborhood can scare off prospective tenants who don’t want to risk living next to animals that are potentially unpredictable.
Most cities have regulations in place, which deal with dogs who bark excessively or who are allowed to roam free. Check with the city to determine the standards for unreasonable levels of noise and especially how they pertain to dogs. Know what the law allows before you head next door to discuss it with the dog owner. If bad neighbors are unwilling to make changes, you and your tenants are well within your rights to call the police or animal control. With enough warnings and fines, the dog owners will either comply or lose their animals.
As a property manager, you might consider changing the rental agreement to allow prospective tenants with a dog. The reason for this is that current dog owners have a hard time finding rental properties that allow pets, so they may be less likely to turn up their nose at the neighbor’s animals. Also, dog owners may be a little more tolerant of neighboring dogs because they have one of their own.
Bad Neighbor #3. Excessive or Late Night Noise
When your rental property’s neighbor has a habit of blasting loud music, hosting rowdy late night parties or working with power tools early in the morning, it can drive current and prospective tenants crazy.
Similar to the dog regulations, cities generally have noise ordinances in place for certain times of day. Noise above a certain decibel level in the evening and night can be a violation, and therefore enforced by law.
You can also take certain steps to minimize outside noise from within the rental property. Windows are the primary entry point for outside noise, so make sure the caulking and weather stripping is intact and forms a tight seal. You might consider installing multiple pane windows in the spots that face the neighbor’s property to better block acoustics from next door. Putting up soundproofing window covers, like shutters, window blankets or noise reducing curtains can further muffle outside noises for your tenants.
By considering these things, and knowing the city ordinances a property manager can still attract and keep good tenants, in spite of bad neighbors.