7 Ways to Handle Troublesome Tenants
Bad tenants: they’re a nuisance for property managers. Just about every type of business deals with their own version of a problematic customer, and property management is no different. There are ways to deal with them effectively, though.
Every property manager has had to deal with a bad tenant at least once in their life. Some tenants treat a rented unit like a dump. Others break the ‘no pets’ rule. Then there are the legal loopholes these people hide behind to prolong the suffering. They find flaws in agreements and claim violations of anything you can think of. Right when you think you have a bad tenant on the verge of eviction, there’s always something that gives them the “one last chance” extension that never seems to end. To make matters worse, you have to hound such individuals for late rent payments and the fines they come with, as if you’re a bill collector.
With that in mind, there are ways to handle these issues when they occur and stop them from happening in the future. You won’t have to reinvent the wheel, either. Property managers endure the same issues you go through daily, and as a result, there is a lot of data circulating on how to handle these situations.
This article won’t explain how to stop renting units to these people. Interviewing and screening them is not covered here, either. You’re about to read what to do after the renter has been approved and the decision to lease has commenced.
Consider the following 7 ways to handle bad tenants:
1. Be kind, yet firm, from the get-go
Granted, you won’t lease a lot of properties by being a stern dictator of a property manager while the sales process is taking place. However, once the decision to lease has been made, it’s prudent to be very clear about what is anticipated from the tenants. You’ll need to go over punctual payments, property maintenance, noise concerns, pets, guests, and other potential problems.
You’re not there to make a new friend. If you do get chummy with a renter, you’re opening yourself up to late payment favors, and you’ll always be sympathetic to the excuses you get.
Efficient property managers make their tenants feel at ease, aid them when necessary, and are fair. However, too much fraternizing with renters inevitably results in testing the friendship’s limits. Be firm, but helpful and friendly.
Being firm can be uncomfortable when the tenant’s point of contact is the same individual who needs to make demands or collect late fees. One approach is to have the “enforcer” be another individual.
2. Have everything in writing
A thorough lease agreement may come in handy down the road. Standardized lease forms can be beneficial, but they won’t address unique policies, amenities, special needs, or features under your management. Ensure you personalize every lease agreement with meticulous details, as well as any of the regulations or expectations pertaining to the rental unit.
3. For important documents, use certified mail
Property managers sometimes find them in situations where tenants claim they didn’t get an important document, delaying whatever action is being enforced. This can be bypassed by sending such paperwork through certified mail. This approach will prove that specific documents were delivered, both to yourself and the intended recipient. Have a pile of receipt slips and certified mail postcards on your desk so you can be prepared for your trip to the post office. Remove the “I never received it” excuse and you’ll bypass a sea of hassles.
4. Be ready ahead of time for trouble
If you’re fortunate, you won’t regularly get bombarded with legal troubles from tenants. However, there are people who have mastered the art of exploiting renter’s protection laws to remain in a unit. As such, it’s vital to either:
a) Study these laws yourself or consult an expert who can prepare you and/or represent you.
b) Take meticulous notes of neighbor complaints, problems endured, lease violations, and other issues that will help your case in such instances; ensure you date all the details you record.
5. Keep the neighborhood in mind
Several communities have neighborhood watches, homeowner’s associations, and similar groups, formal or otherwise. They may also have regulations or basic expectations about garbage pickup, vehicle parking (which includes RVs), exotic animals, pets in schoolyards and parks, and more. You’ll bypass many hassles by understanding the intricacies of a neighborhood and chronicling them in a document you can offer to your tenants prior to their move-in date.
6. Handling move-out issues
We know a property manager who adds an “Intention to Vacate” notice to all new leases and goes over them with tenants. You may have already dealt with tenants who haven’t given adequate notice and have the gall to request mercy, or who ask you to use their security deposit to cover rent owing for their final month.
That is not what a security deposit is to be used for. Sufficient notice is instituted to provide you with time to replace the tenant. Address these points if necessary, and then merely decline when asked for such leniency. You may need to remind tenants that unpaid rent could affect their credit history. By being prepared for such circumstances, you’ll minimize your troubles, confrontations, or miscommunication during move-out time.
7. You might require legal counsel
If an eviction is required, don’t use any random lawyer. Begin by consulting people you know for a referral or recommendation, especially if they’re in the same field as you. If you’re unsuccessful at obtaining a referral, contact lawyers you know and ask if they can recommend a trustworthy legal expert with experience in evictions.
Ask the lawyer some basic questions, such as whether they are experts in evictions, how many evictions they handle on the monthly basis, and how long the process tends to last. If they can tell you about the Landlord Tenant Court schedule, you’re in good hands, as you’ll find out exactly a case will commence.
Regardless of how well you manage your property, at some point, you’ll have to handle a bad tenant. However, if you clarify things from day one and stay true to your role as a property manager, life will be simplified. Remember that renters aren’t your buddies, they’re essentially customers. If your tenant is unable to pay you or is late in doing so, you are not responsible for their finances. They should be consulting friends and family to ease their money woes, not you. Make your tenants understand this, if necessary. Just remember to be friendly, but firm.
8. When selling the home is the answer
Being a landlord is not for everyone. Dealing with bad tenants, vacant homes, major repairs, and dishonest people can get tiresome and expensive. Even for the people who like to be landlords, the day will come when you would like to sell your property and cash out of your investment. In the perfect world, all tenants would be good tenants. They would pay the rent on time, they would keep your property looking nice, and they would get along well with the neighbors. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. For some people, dealing with frustrating tenants it is just not worth the hassle, and the quickest solution is to simply sell the rental property.