Sometimes as a landlord, you’ll get lucky. You’ll find a nearly perfect tenant with excellent credit, punctual and respectful habits, steady income, and a burning desire to make rent payments on time while keeping your property in good condition.
Sometimes, you won’t be nearly so lucky.
If your property portfolio is big enough and you rent out properties long enough, you’ll eventually encounter some difficult tenants. Difficult tenants come in many varieties, and it pays to know how to deal with them when they present themselves.
In this guide, we’ll help you figure out some of the most common types of difficult tenants and how you can manage them effectively.
Types of Difficult Tenants
These are some of the most common types of difficult tenants landlords have to deal with:
1. The chronic late payer.
In most situations, rent is due on the first of the month; by the first, your tenant is responsible for paying rent in full. This is important to maintain positive cash flow and make sure you have enough money to cover the expenses of managing the property. If your tenant is chronically late, submitting payments weeks after the first of the month, you’re going to have a significant problem on your hands. The first infraction shouldn’t be a big deal; everyone makes mistakes. But repeated and egregious infractions should come with some disciplinary or punitive action, such as an imposed late fee. If the problem persists, have a frank conversation with your tenant and reset their expectations.
2. The non-payer.
Even worse than the chronic late payer is the non-payer – the tenant who refuses to pay rent. Sometimes, tenants will withhold rent as a form of protest. If this is the case, consider making the repairs or improvements they’re requesting to resolve the issue. If not, consider working out a new financial arrangement or prepare to escalate the situation. If your tenant consistently fails to pay rent over several months, you may need to file for eviction.
3. The loud/disruptive tenant.
If you’re managing tenants within a multi-family home or apartment building, a single loud or disruptive tenant can cause problems for your entire community. This is most commonly attributable to excessive noise late into the night, which prevents people from sleeping. Have a proactive conversation and create new noise ordinance rules if necessary; if the disruption continues from there, escalate the situation by threatening eviction.
4. The habitual complainer.
This difficult tenant doesn’t present the same monetary or practical challenges as the previous tenants, but they can be very annoying. Most tenants will reach out to you if something is wrong with the unit or something needs to be repaired, but some tenants will reach out to you for every little thing that goes wrong – even if it’s not immediately fixable. If you have a tenant constantly reaching out to you with low priority items, talk to them about what constitutes an issue worthy of outreach. Make sure they understand that certain channels are for emergency communications only.
5. The neglectful tenant.
Some tenants don’t care much about your property or the rules of the city. They might let trash pile up, failing to take it out on trash day, or they might be egregiously unclean. Hopefully, you’ll have some standards outlined in your lease agreement; if this is the case, you can point out exactly what the tenant is doing wrong and guide them on how to improve it.
6. The lease violator.
Your lease agreement probably outlines many stipulations for renting your property, including how much rent is due and when. You probably also have terms for whether or not pets are allowed and whether or not other people can live in this unit with the primary tenant. If you find out that one of your tenants is consistently violating your lease, notify them immediately and explain how they can rectify the situation. If they refuse to change, gather as much evidence as you can and prepare legal action.
7. The destroyer.
Rarely, you’ll encounter a tenant who is physically destructive to your property. They might break windows, punch holes in drywall, or otherwise neglect your unit. Again, your best course of action is to gather as much evidence as possible and explain how the tenant can rectify the situation; are they responsible for making repairs? Can they pay you to fix the damage?
8. The stubborn occupant.
What happens when you evict a tenant but they refuse to leave? If you’ve filed the eviction properly, this should be a relatively simple problem to solve; contact your lawyer and, assuming your lawyer recommends this course of action, contact the police to escort the person out of your property.
The Framework for Managing Difficult Tenants
Most difficult tenants can be managed with the following framework:
- Remain patient and compromising. Remain patient, open, and compromising, especially when the tenant has legitimate grievances or issues. For example, if you’ve recently raised the rent, try to remain understanding if they’re late with their payment this month. Instead of resorting to legal action immediately, try to work out a deal that both of you can live with.
- Escalate when necessary. At the same time, you don’t want to be a pushover. If your tenant refuses to work with you, or if the problem remains consistent, be ready to escalate the situation. Fines, fees, and formal warnings are excellent tools to have in your arsenal.
- Be ready to get help. You don’t have to manage problematic tenants entirely by yourself. Make sure you have a good lawyer on standby to help you manage some of these issues. And if you don’t want to deal with tenants at all, consider hiring a property management company to take care of everything on your behalf.
Difficult tenants come in many forms, but you don’t have to shoulder the burden by yourself. If you work with a property management company like Green Residential, you’ll get access to thorough tenant screening services (so you’re less likely to deal with problematic tenants). Better yet, the property management company will take care of most issues for you, so you can maintain your rental property as a truly passive source of income. Ready to get started? Contact us today!