5 Tips for Dealing with Problem Tenants
Being a landlord is a challenging and often thankless job. You’re constantly being pulled in a hundred different directions. Not only do you have to worry about marketing, filling empty properties, routine maintenance, and surprise fixes – you also have to worry about bad tenants.
Late payments and breaking the rules laid out in a lease agreement are one thing. However, sometimes landlords are forced to deal with constant disrespect, irresponsibility, negligence, and even property damage.
Don’t let bad tenants harm your emotional, physical, and financial well-being. Here are five insightful and helpful tips for dealing with problem tenants that will save you time, energy, and money.
1. Be Organized and Keep Written Records
Are they keeping up with the lawn? Do they have any undisclosed pets or houseguests? Are they constantly throwing wild parties, upsetting the neighbors, or trashing parts of the property?
When you’re dealing with bad tenants, it’s absolutely crucial to keep a thorough record of everything they do. From a legal standpoint, there’s nothing more telling than an organized and detailed list of grievances and lease violations.
You should also check on them often. Every time a tenant breaks a part of the lease or causes damage to the property, create a written record of the incident. Describe it in detail, including the date, time, and cost it might have incurred.
Once you have that information recorded, file it in an organized way that makes sense to you. Remember, you may have to reference it again later.
2. Send Regular Payment Reminders
As a landlord, it’s your responsibility to work with your tenants when times get hard. If you have a good relationship, then they should be open and willing to communicate with you when they’re having problems. On the flip side of that, you shouldn’t let bad tenants take advantage of your understanding and generosity.
Sometimes, life gets hectic. That’s understandable. It’s perfectly reasonable that some tenants will miss a due date by accident.
It’s also easy for a late payment to turn into a missed payment. Once a tenant is behind on their rent by an entire month (or several months), it can be incredibly challenging to catch up. That’s why payment reminders are helpful for both tenants and landlords.
3. Attempt to Turn Them Around
Don’t mistake a good tenant experiencing hardship for a problem tenant. Circumstances may change. People often deal with job loss, personal loss, and severe mental health issues. When that happens, they sometimes let things slip.
Remember – accidental negligence isn’t always a sign of a bad tenant. Sometimes, it’s simply a sign that people need help.
When solving or mediating a dispute with a tenant, your first priority is to try to make it work. Marketing to fill an empty property and lease turnovers can be tough and costly. Sometimes, people just need a break.
If you can communicate with your tenants and turn them around, you should. Of course, if you get the impression that they’ll continue to be a problem or that they’re trying to take advantage of you, then you must put yourself first.
4. Ask Them to Leave
If you’ve exhausted all of your efforts trying to turn your tenants around with no success, then it may be time to ask them to leave. Obviously, this can be a daunting prospect. If you can get them to leave on good terms, it’s much easier than the alternative.
The best way to effectively communicate this to a tenant is to be straightforward and honest about the issues you’re having. Tell them what they’ve done wrong, the ways you’ve tried to remedy it, and then explain the consequences. This is where your written documentation will really come in handy.
If you explain the situation calmly and rationally, then you may be able to get them to leave without involving court orders. Of course, that’s not always possible.
5. Begin Eviction
If your tenants don’t leave, you feel uncomfortable speaking to them, or they otherwise force your hand, then you have no choice but to begin the eviction process. This is never an easy option, which is why it’s always the last resort.
Of course, you shouldn’t let that dissuade you from starting the eviction process if you’ve exhausted every other option. It’s ultimately much better for you and your property to get rid of problem tenants as quickly as possible. Every day you allow them to live under your roof is another opportunity for them to take advantage of you and cause more damage.
Deal With Problem Tenants ASAP
Bad tenants have the mindset that it’s not their house, so why should they care? That’s an attitude that spells serious danger for any landlord. If you’re stuck with tenants who are doing everything in their power to destroy something you’ve worked tirelessly to create, then you have no choice but to take action.
Remember to keep a written record of everything your tenants do and work with them when they’re having issues. If you can’t see a way to turn them around, ask them to leave. If they refuse to leave, take the necessary steps to force them out. When it comes to bad tenants, you should always put yourself first.
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