I received a complaint about one of my tenants having a loud party late into the night. I talked with the tenant and I thought he understood that noise and disturbances to his neighbors was in violation of the lease terms and conditions. Now I have a new complaint against him about noise. What should I do next?

You will need to take documented, formal enforcement of your lease terms and conditions.  A warning notice, oral or written, may be appropriate for a tenant’s first time violation of a lease term or condition that is not a material default of the lease or a potential threat to neighbors or property.

While a tenant whose previous behaviors have never been a problem may be responsive to an oral request by the landlord to remedy the situation, the tenant must understand and acknowledge that the request is a warning, not just a conversation. Now with a second complaint, your tenant must not have understood you actually gave him an oral warning that his conduct was in violation of the lease during your talk. You should formalize your oral warning with a written warning letter to the tenant regarding his violations.

Utilizing a written warning for every such problem, even if the first, may be a better business practice for notifying a tenant of a lease violation. The  written warning letter to the tenant should provide relevant specifics of the problem behavior, including date and time; the required corrective action by the tenant to remedy the problem; citation of the specific lease term or condition that has been violated; and the consequences if the tenant fails to take corrective action for compliance.

A warning letter can be effective in some problem situations but keep in mind that a warning letter is an informal writing and does not qualify as a formal termination notice. Tenants who choose to ignore a warning letter or refuse to comply with lease terms and conditions will need to be served with a formal notice for termination of tenancy.

Formal notice to terminate a tenancy can be served with a Notice to Cure or Quit. A Notice to Cure or Quit demands that the tenant comply with one or more terms of the lease agreement (Cure) and, if the tenant does not comply, to end his occupancy (Quit). Notices to Cure or Quit are typically given after a violation of a term or condition of the lease agreement, such as nuisance, waste or illegal use.

You should always document in writing the details of any relevant landlord tenant discussion regarding a lease violation and corrective action taken by landlord and tenant. Copies of writings and Warnings and Notices served on the tenant should be kept in the tenant’s file.

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