Terrible tenants can make your job as a landlord tough. Some of them pay rent late every month, while others are careless and damage your property. Most property owners face the hassle of dealing with difficult tenants at some point, and it is not easy. Fortunately, we have put together a list of types of problem tenants to look out for and tips to help you get through sticky situations. Read on to find out more!
Recognizing Common Types of Terrible Tenants
Applicant screening is excellent for weeding out many tenants that may become an issue down the road. However, it does not account for changes in a tenant’s financial circumstances, emotional state, or personal situations. As a landlord, review these common problem tenants so you can recognize them early and respond accordingly.
- A Bull in a China Shop
- Day Late and A Dollar Short
- Laws Are Merely Suggestions
- Perpetual Complainers
- Strangers Welcome
A Bull in a China Shop
Property damage is a huge problem for landlords, not to mention an expensive one. Some tenants do not care for the property as they should, while others decide to make unauthorized “improvements.” As a landlord, taking preventative steps to avoid these terrible tenants is critical. Consider the advice below:
How to Prevent Tenants from Damaging Your Rental Property
- A Well-written Lease: Carefully spell out maintenance expectations before the tenants take possession of the home.
- Perform a Detailed Move-in Inspection: Take photos and carefully document the property condition. This will give you something to compare with once the tenant moves out, allowing you to charge for damages lawfully.
- Conduct Routine Inspections: This is something you should put into practice for any rental property. At least twice per year, inspect the property for any potential maintenance concerns. If you see the tenant is not keeping up with the property, try to address it sooner rather than later.
Day Late and A Dollar Short
It should be no surprise that late or non-payers make the top of the list of problem tenants. Late payments, no payments, or partial payments can wreak havoc on a landlord’s financial well-being. No matter how hard you try, chances are, you may still come across late payments now and again. However, to limit those occurrences, follow these tips below to get tenants to pay on time:
How To Get Terrible Tenants to Pay Rent On Time
- Rigid Policies: Leases need to spell out precisely what the procedure for rent payments are and what happens if a tenant pays late. Advise the tenant that this is a firm policy you intend to enforce.
- Everyone is the Same: Regardless of situations, all tenants must be held to the same standard and guidelines. So, make this clear from the start and, in turn, avoid some of the pleadings or negotiating attempts by tenants.
- Create Reminders: If your lease has a built-in grace period, consider an automated rent reminder for those tenants that miss the due date. Sometimes accidents indeed do occur, and a reminder may head off a potential problem.
Laws Are Merely Suggestions
Some individuals think they can get away with anything. Common ways that tenants break the law ranges from the illegal selling or harboring of drugs to violent crimes and nuisance complaints. If a tenant in your property becomes criminally active, it is best to consult an attorney for advice. In many states, arrests do not change the tenant’s right to occupy the home. That said, some of the tips below also help:
How to Deal with Tenants Who Break the Law
- Screening: Pre-screening applicants will reveal prior criminal history. Evaluate this carefully in conjunction with other qualifications. Someone with a small blip 15 years ago may be an excellent tenant but watch for recent illegal activity or a pattern of behavior. If you see that, steer clear!
- Regular Inspections: Periodic inspections of the home may reveal signs of illegal activities or potential problems, especially drug-related.
Every landlord loves the tenant that does all the right things, and you only hear from when there is a legitimate issue. That said, property owners also must deal with a fair share of perpetual complainers. They continuously call, at all hours, and for everything, including unreasonable requests.
How to Deal With Tenants Who Complain Constantly
- Know Your Legal Obligations: Landlords are required to make certain repairs that are essential to the habitability or safety of the home. However, that does not mean you have to jump at every little request from tenants, knowing the difference will save time, money, and aggravation.
- Remind Them of the Lease: A lease should spell out who is responsible for what when it comes to maintenance. Light bulb out? Does the HVAC filter need changing? This is the tenant’s responsibility, and you may need to remind them of such.
Tenants who try to sublet the property or have multiple extended guests coming in and out create problems and liability for a landlord. If someone is in your home that is not on the signed lease, that means the terms of the lease do not bound them. Getting them out can prove to be a lengthy and expensive court battle depending on the circumstances. Avoid this at all costs by following the steps below:
How to Handle Extended Guests and Subletting
- Subletting: Do not allow it. You do not want anyone in your home you have not personally vetted. Make this clear as part of the lease agreement and keep the lines of communication open. If the tenant has circumstances that cause them to be away for an extended period, they need to be aware they cannot bring in someone else to take over.
- Inspections: Just as the other examples above, inspections can provide a wealth of information. If you discover any unauthorized occupants, address it immediately with the tenant.
- Guests are Allowed: A tenant has the right o have guests come over or even stay a few days. However, anyone planning to stay longer than that needs to be cleared with the landlord first.
Best Practices for How to Deal with Terrible Tenants
So, we have reviewed terrible tenant traits to look for and some preventative measures, but let’s face it, things still happen. Therefore, when problems do arise that need your intervention as the landlord, how you respond can make all the difference. Take a look at the suggestions below on how to deal with difficult or even terrible tenants.
- Be calm, objective, and rational
- Keep written records of everything
- Teach tenants how they should treat you
- Try to get your tenants on your side
- Ask the terrible tenants to leave
- Begin the eviction process
- Hire a property manager
Be Calm, Objective, and Rational
It is easy (and understandable) to get angry when tenants cause problems. However, being hotheaded will only make the situation worse. Do not let your thought become clouded by emotions when you talk to your tenants about the problems they are causing.
As a landlord, you need to be the voice of reason. So, evaluate the situation carefully from all sides and take the time you need to come to the best approach. Your tenants will be a lot more receptive to what you tell them if you come across as collected and tactful.
Keep Written Records of Everything
One of the best ways to avoid conflict with your tenants is to keep written records of everything. While doing this will increase your workload a bit, it will also decrease the chances of a bad tenant trying to dispute a charge or something else with you. So, it is worth the trouble.
Pro Tip: When inspecting the property, don’t just keep a written record of your findings – take pictures and videos that feature a timestamp whenever possible. That way, no tenant can dispute necessary security deposit deductions.
Teach Tenants How They Should Treat You
The tenant-landlord relationship is much like any other relationship – your actions must reflect how you expect to be treated. Otherwise, you will find your tenants taking advantage of you. For example, if you do not pay rent on time, and you do not immediately enforce the terms of the lease, they will begin to think they can get away with it. So, if you stand firmly behind your rules, you’ll find yourself dealing with far fewer hassles.
If you do act and still can’t get the desired results from your tenants, keep following up with them. Doing so will let the tenant know that you are not going to drop the issue and that they need to resolve it quickly or face negative consequences.
Try to Get Your Tenants on Your Side
Ever heard of the phrase “kill them with kindness” as a method of handling a difficult person? Implement this strategy with your tenants by going out of your way to be kind to them, as a means of achieving a positive outcome. Examples include being extra patient, responding quickly to any emails/calls from them, or something else.
While this method is tough with difficult tenants, it can help you win them over and build a relationship. Once you have created a good relationship with your tenants, you will typically find that they’re more likely to comply with your rules.
Ask the Terrible Tenants to Leave
When you have reached your breaking point, it is time to consider asking them to move out. While getting a problematic tenant to leave voluntarily might prove difficult, it is not impossible. Start by sending them a Written Notice to Vacate per the lease terms, and they will know that you want them to leave.
However, you cannot merely force a tenant out of your home. If they refuse to leave voluntarily, your only option is the costly eviction process.
Begin the Eviction Process
Evicting your tenant should be a last resort since the process can be costly. As a landlord, it is vital to be familiar with the eviction requirements and laws in your area. However, in many states, you can only evict a tenant for one of these three reasons:
- The tenant failed to pay their rent
- The tenant failed to move out once their lease ended
- The tenant violated the lease terms
So, do not think that you can evict a tenant just because you cannot get along with them. Unfortunately, that is not an option.
Hire a Property Manager
Some tenants are just hard to deal with, no matter how much you go out of your way to please them. When that happens, it is in your best interest to let someone else handle them for you. Just imagine all the free time you would gain, not to mention all the stress you would eliminate. Choosing the right property manager for your rental property is essential and of the majority of landlords, well worth the investment.
What to Look for When Hiring a Property Manager
- Look for a Property Management Company with a Solid Reputation – A company’s reputation can be found in a lot of places, so it is essential to look into all the possible options. This ensures you are choosing a company that is best for your unique needs.
- Investigate the Fees – In today’s world, hidden fees run rampant. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- Give Property Management Companies with a Full Suite of Services More Consideration – The bottom line is, the more services a property management company offers, the more protected you will be. So, choose a company that provides a robust and comprehensive range of services to get the most peace of mind.
Landlord Solutions Any Great Property Management Company Should Offer
- Tenant Screening
- Move-In/ Move Out Reports
- 24/7 Maintenance
- Eviction and Lawsuit Services
- Rent Collection
- Lead Paint Compliance
- Rental Registration
- Monthly and Annual Financial Statements
How to Protect Your Rental Property with Professional Management
Screening tenants is the first and best defense against terrible tenants. If you find yourself struggling with your occupants more than usual, you might not be using a thorough enough screening process. The property management team at Bay Property Management Group is so skilled at screening that less than 1% of the tenants we place end up getting evicted. In fact, we are so confident in our process we offer a 6 Month Tenant Guarantee! If a tenant we place is evicted within the first 6 months of occupancy, we will re-lease your property for free.
So, do not spend another minute stressing over your difficult tenants – reach out to our dedicated team today and find out how we can make your job as a landlord easier.
Proudly offering rental property management in Northern Virginia, Washington DC, Richmond, Maryland, and Pennsylvania!