Whether you are renting out your very first investment property or your tenth, tenant screening is one of the most important responsibilities you have as a property owner. Unfortunately, no matter how carefully you evaluate your tenants before approving them, there’s always a chance you’ll wind up with a problem tenant who doesn’t pay rent, ignores rules and damages your property.
Table of Contents - Dealing with Bad Tenants: How to Handle Everything Above Board
Problem tenants can cause any property owner headaches, but you can make the experience much easier on yourself by following some key tips.
When do tenants become problematic?
People are imperfect and everyone makes mistakes from time to time. Your tenants might accidentally break a window or miss a deadline for rent by a day, but that doesn’t mean they’re problem tenants.
Problem tenants create problems for landlords regularly by failing to pay rent, causing property damage or breaking property rules. These tenants cost landlords a significant amount of time, money and effort, and they can be difficult to get rid of. With that in mind, there are some key tips you can follow to deal with your tenants while abiding relevant laws and regulations.
What to do about problem tenants?
Slapping a bad tenant with an eviction notice might seem like the easiest course of action, but it’s not always the best. If you’ve got a tenant wearing your last nerve, here’s what you need to do to handle them in a professional, transparent, responsible way:
Depending on the amount of time a tenant has been in your unit and what your relationship with them is, you might have a hard time staying objective when they stop paying rent or start causing problems. If your tenant pays rent late one month and explains what prevented them from paying on time, you might choose to give them a one-time pass. Unfortunately, some tenants will try to take advantage of your generosity and make a habit of paying you late (or not at all!). No matter how much you like your tenant personally, you have to be able to remove yourself emotionally from the situation and think critically about the right course of action.
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Keep records of everything
From the time you first experience issues with your tenants to the final eviction, you should be writing everything down and keeping meticulous records of the situation. Keep copies of any written communication, record phone calls, keep records of text messages and take notes on any verbal conversations you have. If your case ever comes before a board or legal authority, you’ll be able to back everything you’re saying up with records. The more information you have, the better. Even if you don’t end up referencing much of these records, it’s much better to be safe than sorry.
If you let late rent payments slide for a couple of months, it sends a message to your tenant that you’re laid back as a landlord and they can get away with this kind of behaviour in the future. As soon as there’s a problem with a tenant, even if it’s a minor one, notify them about the issue and any action you plan on taking. Giving your tenant a warning in writing sends the message you’re serious and you’re willing to act against them, if necessary.
Consider professional management
As a property investor, you have to be realistic about your strengths and capabilities. If you have trouble dealing with problem tenants, it might be worth it to invest in a professional property management service so you don’t have to worry about managing tenants. While this service does come at a cost, many property owners find the benefits outweigh the investment.
Get legal help
After you’ve exhausted all other options and strategies, you might have to ask your tenant to leave. Consult with a lawyer to ensure that you are following the relevant legal requirements and procedures to evict your tenant. Typically, you have to provide the tenant with written notice of eviction, file a case with the local board or governing agency that settles these matters and attend a hearing to receive a judgement on your case if your tenant refuses to leave.
Don’t let terrible tenants win!
Nobody wants to deal with a problem tenant, but the situation doesn’t have to be disastrous. Being strategic with your problem tenants allows you to mitigate the problems caused by this issue and ensure you stay compliant with the law. Being transparent, professional and thorough in how you approach the situation will keep it from escalating even more and put you in a position to act accordingly if and when the time comes to evict.
Bad Tenants - 10 tips on how to deal with them
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