No landlord or property manager in Houston is eager to face difficult tenants. Some renters constantly pay late, others damage the property.
Most property owners have to deal with challenging renters eventually. This article provides vital information to make your difficulties easier.
What Are the Most Common Types of Difficult Tenants?
Effective applicant screening is the best way to avoid having to deal with troublesome tenants. But no matter how well you screen, you won’t always avoid trouble.
People’s finances change, as do their relationships and personal situations. As a Houston property manager, you will probably encounter one or more of the problematic tenants below sooner or later.
Tenant Damages Apartment
Property damage is one of the biggest headaches for property managers. Since the tenants don’t own the property, some are more likely to be careless with it.
Certain tenants don’t care whether they damage the structure, while others will make “improvements” you didn’t authorize. As the owner or manager, you should take preventive action that should keep such renters to a minimum.
- Write a clear and concise lease agreement: Spell out all maintenance expectations before the tenant moves in.
- Perform a detailed inspection upon move-in: Take photos and document the condition of the Houston apartment. This furnishes proof for comparison when the tenant vacates, so you may legally deduct for any damage from their security deposit.
- Do quarterly inspections: Property managers and landlords who conduct quarterly inspections can head off maintenance and damage issues before they become substantial. If you see the tenant is damaging your property, let them know you’ve become aware of it.
Tenant Pays Late
It shouldn’t be a surprise that late-paying tenants are one of the most common problems landlords face. Late, partial, or no payment can make your financial situation harder.
No matter how well you screen tenants, eventually you’re going to have someone fail to pay you on time. To reduce these events, remember the following.
- Strict policies: Your leases need to state the procedure for paying rent and the consequences if the tenant is late. Tell every tenant you have a firm policy on this, and will enforce it.
- All tenants are the same: No matter what situation may be, every tenant must follow the same rules. Make this clear at the beginning so you can avoid the bargaining and pleading tactics some will attempt.
- Use online rent payment: Make it as easy as possible to pay rent on time.
- Create reminders: If there is a grace period in the lease, send an automatic rent reminder on the person’s email or cell phone. Accidents happen; an auto-reminder can reduce their frequency.
Laws Aren’t Absolute
Some people seem to believe the laws and rules don’t apply to them. They will attempt to get away with anything.
Among the ways that tenants frequently break the law are selling drugs and committing violent crimes. If a tenant becomes implicated in criminal activity, talk to your attorney about the next steps.
In many US states, an arrest doesn’t mean the tenant has to vacate your property. But here’s some advice on how to deal with this situation:
- If you pre-screen tenants correctly, you will learn about their criminal history, if they have any. Check for this as carefully as their other qualifications. A person with a minor arrest 15 years ago could be a great tenant, but watch out for someone who has recent arrests or a pattern of criminal activity. If you see that, do not rent to them.
- Inspections: Inspecting the apartment or home each quarter can often reveal signs of possibly illegal behavior.
All property managers like tenants who do everything right, and who only contact you when they have a severe problem. However, every owner has to deal with people who do nothing but complain.
They’ll call at all hours for every conceivable reason, with unjustifiable expectations. What can you do about this?
- Know what your legal obligations are. You’ll have to make certain repairs that keep the property liveable and safe, but that doesn’t mean you must respond to every request from the renter. Knowing what you are obligated to do and what’s optional is critical.
- Cite the lease: Your lease should lay out who must pay for various items of maintenance. If a light bulb is out, it usually is the tenant’s duty to replace it. The same is the case with the HVAC filter.
Some tenants will attempt to sublet the property or allow guests to stay indefinitely. Both issues give rise to problems and liabilities.
If someone lives in your property and isn’t on the lease, that means they aren’t bound by it. Getting such people to move out can be difficult and expensive. Here’s how to avoid these issues:
- Subletting: Never allow it! No one can live in your property more than a day or two that you haven’t vetted. Make this crystal clear in your lease. If the renter has a situation that requires them to be away for a while, they need to know you won’t allow someone else to stay there.
- Regular inspections: Doing inspections every quarter also helps you ascertain whether someone is living there who isn’t on the lease.
- Guests: Every tenant can have guests stay for a few days. But anything more than a week should be cleared by you.
More Best Practices
The foregoing are the elements to watch for in tenant activities, and how to prevent problems before they happen. But some will still occur. If you run into a problem with a bad tenant, keep the items below in mind.
It’s natural to get upset with a bad tenant. But anger only escalates the trouble. Don’t let your reason become clouded by emotion. You need to be rational and calm when dealing with a difficult renter.
Keep Written Records
A solid way to avoid problems with tenants is to make a written record of everything. This will increase your workload, but you’ll make it more difficult for someone to dispute charges with you and prevail in other conflicts.
Teach Them How To Treat You
As the property manager or landlord, your actions should reflect how you want to be treated. For example, if you don’t enforce timely payment of rent, they’ll assume they can habitually pay late.
Be polite but firm, and your life will be easier.