How To Deal With Problem Tenants
At some point, every landlord is going to have to deal with a tenant that causes problems. It may be someone who is always late with the rent or someone who causes property damage. Whatever the conflict may be, it is important to learn how to deal with problem tenants without making the situation worse than it already is.
Tenants who pay late are not necessarily trying to take advantage. Landlords should be fair but strict with tenants when they fail to pay on time. Allowing extra time to pay or allowing a tenant to pay over a couple of weeks instead of all at once is fine if the landlord feels the tenant is truly having temporary financial difficulties. However, this can be a problem if it starts to become a habit because it may indicate tenants are attempting to live beyond their means.
Landlords should put everything in writing, especially with settling disputes. Making sure all ground rules are in writing offers protection against future liability and damages. A lawyer should review the document beforehand, and both parties must sign it for it to be a binding document. The document should outline in detail any penalties or punishments for violating the rules.
A property owner must establish and maintain an open line of communication. Failing to return phone calls or emails makes people feel as if the landlord is ignoring them and some will want to retaliate with bad behavior. Documenting all communications is necessary to protect the landlord’s interests if it eventually becomes necessary to go to court.
Dealing with bad behavior immediately is crucial. Letting time go by or waiting until the tenant has violated several rules before taking action is a mistake many landlords make. Swift and decisive action lets the tenant know immediately that the landlord means business and will not tolerate the unsavory behavior.
If a difficult tenant is making life miserable, it may be helpful to hire a property management company to act as a liaison. The property owner can allow the manager to handle all complaints, maintenance requests, and other communication with the tenant. Eliminating the aggravation and time involved dealing with the problem is often worth the investment.
When all else fails, legal action may be the only effective recourse. Evictions are costly, so taking a tenant to court should be a last resort. If it becomes necessary to sue, the landlord must have a qualified attorney. Landlords should let the courts deal with the eviction and avoid any illegal retaliation such as locking the tenant out before the lawsuit has run its course.
A problem tenant can make life miserable for landlords by paying late, disturbing other tenants, vandalizing the property, or being nitpicky when it comes to maintenance or repairs. The best way to deal with them is to stay objective and enforce your rules fairly. Landlords should be strict when the situation calls for it. Letting tenants get away with small breaches of the rental contract will only lead to bigger problems in the future.
Thanks to Alan Munns of Redstones in Kent for his assistance in researching this post.
Marlowe Innovation Centre,
Tel: 01843 610611Posted on: January 28, 2016, by : atwaterc