Landlording Consistency: Learning from Past Mistakes

Posted on Tue 29 March 2022 in Texas

Let's be honest, we all make mistakes, and sometimes, those mistakes come back to haunt us in unexpected ways. Over a year ago, I found myself in a predicament caused by a lapse in judgment. Today, I'm sharing my story as a cautionary tale, hoping that others can learn from my oversight.


You see, I'm the owner of a small mobile home park in Stephenville, Texas. I've made this park my home, and my business model involves leasing out my land to mobile home owners. Notably, I don't own any of the homes in the park, except for my own residence.


Around a year ago, circumstances weren't in my favor. I wasn't feeling well, confined to my home, and during this time, two homes in the park were sold. The mistake I made was not acting promptly when I learned of these sales. I should have immediately informed the new buyers, who were also the current residents, that they had no existing lease and needed to vacate the park without delay. But, regrettably, I didn't take that crucial step.


I allowed complacency to set in, never requiring these individuals to sign a lease agreement. Fast forward to yesterday, and one of the residents approached me with surprising news. They had sold their home, and the new owner was moving in the very next day. Needless to say, I was taken aback.


For those who haven't experienced mobile home park management, picture owning an apartment building. Now imagine striking up a conversation with a tenant who casually mentions that they've transferred their lease to someone you've never met, and they're vacating in just three days!


In Texas, and likely in many other states, landlord-tenant laws require landlords to provide notice equivalent to at least the length of the payment cycle. If you collect rent biweekly, two weeks' notice is required. If it's a monthly arrangement, 30 days' notice must be given. And for those on a six-month payment cycle, six months' notice is mandatory. Of course, if a lease specifies a longer notice period, that should be adhered to.


Before I ventured into the world of landlording, I, like many others, believed that a 30-day notice was merely a courteous gesture. It seemed common sense that tenants should provide more than three days' notice before vacating. Unfortunately, my assumption didn't align with reality, and I found myself in a challenging situation.


During a recent meeting with the buyer and seller of one of these homes, communication hurdles added to the complexity. Conversations had to be facilitated through an interpreter, which further complicated matters. The seller questioned each point I raised, expressing that such issues hadn't arisen when she initially purchased the house.


This meeting was undoubtedly an arduous one, and it served as a stark reminder of the importance of consistent and proactive landlording practices. By sharing my experience, I hope others can avoid similar pitfalls and navigate the complex landscape of property management with greater ease.


In conclusion, landlording consistency is key. Learn from my mistakes, and always ensure you have clear and documented lease agreements in place. Your proactive approach today can save you from unexpected challenges tomorrow.