Landlords and property investors have a lot on their plates already. Their jobs include wearing many hats—so when you add bad tenants into the mix, everything gets a lot harder.
Let’s take a look at New York, for example.
A recent eviction moratorium made it possible that many tenants were living rent-free and engaging in destructive or even illicit behavior while doing so. Some tenants did pay rent on time, but still participated in unsavory behavior—something that affects more than themselves, but other tenants, too. Landlords currently have no power to change this.
Luckily for Tennessee, that isn’t the case—but it doesn’t mean the occasional bad tenant doesn’t sneak through. And when they do, are you prepared to navigate the situation objectively and efficiently? Do you know the top tips for handling problematic individuals?
Read our guide below.
Treat Every Tenant the Same—Good or Bad
As a landlord or property owner, your job is to treat everyone in an unbiased way. Every tenant should have to follow the same clearly defined rules. Not only does this make managing tenants easier, but it keeps the rules from being taken advantage of by the odd disrespectful tenant.
Let’s say you have one tenant who always pays their rent late and one who always pays on time, or even early. Although one tenant is easier to manage, both have to be treated the same. So, if the “good tenant” is late on rent one month, it’s up to you to withhold the same standards as you would the “bad tenant” who always pays late.
Tenants talk. If you’re seen as an objective landlord, they’ll be more inclined to abide by your guidelines. If you’re known to favor certain people, you’ll lose respect from the problem ones.
Before a tenant moves into a property, there should be documentation of the quality of the building beforehand.
As your landlord-tenant relationship evolves, be sure to keep documentation of anything that goes wrong. This information could be useful in case the situation leads to eviction. You’ll want to ensure that all legal produces have been followed correctly, and having proof of your involvement (conversations, notices given, actions taken) benefits your case.
Whether it’s a mediated discussion, a one-time incident, property damage, or something else altogether, document it. That can mean anything from filing a report to taking photographs. Have templates for these files on-hand, and any time you need to use one, have the tenant sign them as well.
If All Else Fails, Eviction Might Be the Answer
Every property owner and tenant follows a landlord-tenant law.
This law protects both tenant and landlord and ensures that actions like evictions are done lawfully (and not for reasons such as personal or discriminatory ones). Both the tenant and landlord have rights that are clearly outlined within these laws, which vary by state.
If you’ve taken every possible action first, but haven’t seen the results you need from your tenant, the final move might be eviction—no matter how regretfully. Some legal grounds for evicting a bad tenant include:
- Illegal use of property, such as subletting without permission, using the space for commercial reasons, selling illegal substances from the property, etc.
- A breach of the lease agreement, such as housing a pet without permission, allowing someone else to move in without adding them to the lease, property damage, etc.
- Not paying a legal rent increase, which is allotted to landlords every year in most states
- Violation of health and safety
Before you plan to evict, ensure you have a legal right to do so.
Consider Hiring a Property Manager as a Liaison Between Tenant and Landlord
If dealing with disrespectful tenants has you feeling at your wit’s end, you’re not alone. Other landlords have been in your stiff shoes before and now have the space to wiggle their toes in the sand, all thanks to property managers.
Property managers typically have several on-site roles, one of which is to offer a bridge of communication between tenant and landlord. Their tasks include things like:
- Ensuring lease agreements are transparent, up-to-date, and clearly outline subjects like payment methods, late fees, etc.
- Finding and vetting good tenants
- Securing your investment by ensuring that bad tenants don’t get the last say
- Keeping good tenants happy by managing repairs
Not only do property managers take on these tasks and more, but they free up time for you as a landlord to focus on the things you need to. You’ll go from counting down your minutes to using them wisely in no time.
Take Preventative Action to Vet Bad Tenants in the Future
Finally, what can you do to ensure this situation doesn’t happen again?
Let’s be honest—there’s no foolproof way to guarantee this situation will never occur. Sometimes bad tenants just slip through the cracks. But you can analyze your application and vetting process to make sure it’s harder for them to do so.
You might need to have higher expectations. Look for someone with a good rental and credit history, an income that’s at least double the rent, and no glaring financial issues like bankruptcies or poor credit. Ask about any felony convictions, and keep your standards high—no recent criminal activity, for example.
Dot your I’s and cross your T’s, double-checking that all the information given to you is accurate and honest.
Being a Landlord Doesn’t Always Come Easy
But with these tips for dealing with bad tenants, your job becomes a little bit easier.
Not only will you know how to deal with disrespectful tenants you’ve already got, but you’ll be better equipped to vet them in the future. Remain unbiased in your practices, watch out for common red flags when looking for a new renter, and don’t forget to consider hiring a property manager, who can help with all of the above.
Click here to learn more about how Reedy & Company can make managing your property as efficient as ever.