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10 Smart Ways to Deal with Problem Tenants

Deal with Trouble Tenants

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Do you have problem tenants? Are they damaging your property or causing problems with neighbors?

Every landlord, at some point, deals with problem tenants. If you haven’t dealt with a bad one, it’s only a matter of time before you do.

In this article, we’ll cover 10 smart ways to help you deal with tenants giving you trouble, what you can do to resolve any issues before they get worse, and how to prevent future tenant problems.

Let’s dive in…

1. Create an airtight contract.


landlord contract

No dogs allowed, no smoking, and no customizations to the interior? Make sure it’s all in the contract.

Don’t let your tenants manipulate you. A contract is a contract. When you have to deal with troublesome tenants, act in a logical manner, and always refer to the lease agreement.

Both of you agreed to the contract, and those rules are there for a reason. If they are broken, they need to be strictly enforced, without getting personal. Remember, at the end of the day, it’s just a business transaction.

Make sure to get a rock solid, airtight contract drawn up by an attorney that will cover all your bases. Too many times, especially with first-time landlords, they download contracts off the internet to save money, only to find themselves in a tough spot later when things get hairy.

It’s better to invest the money upfront in a tight contract, thaproperty management companiesn pay more later in legal fees.

Sure, there will be times in which a tenant might have legitimate reasons for their behavior, or for paying the rent late. Unless there is a good track record with the tenant, always stick to your contract terms. Problem tenants will test you to see how far they can go without consequences.

2. Channel your inner school teacher


Whether you liked your school teachers or not, you probably respected them. Good teachers “train” students through their consistent behavior. They reward good behavior and punish bad behavior.

It may sound silly, but that same principle can be used with your tenants. When you have tenants that always pay on time, never cause any trouble, and keep their unit well maintained, you can reward them.

Something as simple as a thank you card or phone call can go a long way. Your tenants will see you as a landlord that cares about their efforts and they will continue on the same path.

If they are causing trouble, remember to refer to your lease agreement immediately in a polite manner. Let them know with a simple letter that they are in violation of their contract and should adjust their behaviors.

There’s no need to be a tyrant either, forcing dozens of rules and annoying your tenants. This can scare away great tenants also. 

The keyword here is consistency and balance.

If you have a tenant that continues to show good behavior, reward it. If not, enforce the rules politely without being a tyrant.

3. Always be professional


Treat your rental property operation as a business, because it is. Make sure you understand your landlord rights and responsibilities, the rights of your tenant, and how your state and county’s laws regulate the eviction process.

When you draft a lease agreement, don’t just download a template. Invest in a proper contract and hire an attorney to help you create it. Ensure it includes rules about the noise levels, pets, smoking, property maintenance, late fees, guests, additional occupants and usage of deposit.

Make sure that tenants sign your lease agreement, and give them a hard copy. Don’t ever make verbal agreements, even if the tenants are friends or family members. When all legal ramifications are spelled out in a written agreement, tenants will think twice before voluntarily breaking the rules and there will be no gray areas if it comes down to a legal battle.

Keep track of all transactions, and have a contingency plan to enforce your lease clauses. When any clause of your lease agreement is breached, don’t settle with just a phone call, serve the offending party with an official notice to comply by mail to ensure a paper trail. 

Also, always speak and act professionally. If a tenant breaks a lease rule or causes trouble, keep your cool and act like a professional. Don’t yell or fight with a tenant. Put everything in writing and make sure to consult with an attorney if things get bad.

No matter how angry a tenant may make you, don’t lose your professional cool.

4. Keep track of all interactions, both good and bad.

Track expenses

Documenting everything is extremely important, especially when you’re dealing with a problem tenant.

If you ever have to take any legal action against a bad tenant, all documented interactions could be used as evidence in your case. Save any emails, text messages and correspondence you have with tenants.

If you ever have a verbal altercation with a tenant, immediately write down what happened, how it happened, who was involved, and the exact time and date.

All of these documents can help you in court.

Make sure you are also keeping track of all financial transactions and have proof of payments or non-payments. If there are any “holes” this can work against you in a legal battle.

Remember, treat this as a business, because it is. Document everything.

5. Have an honest conversation with the troublesome tenant.


Sometimes a simple chat can solve any problems you’re having with your tenant.

Taking legal action should be your last resort for many reasons. Before things escalate, the best thing you can do with trouble tenant is to have open communication.

Be honest and objective about their behavior, and explain why it is breaching their contract and why it’s affecting you and other tenants. Stay cool, be kind yet firm.

If they continue to violate their lease agreement or refuse to speak with you, you can then consider more direct legal methods of enforcement.

At the end of the day, you want to keep your tenants happy and have a peaceful relationship with them. A 1-on-1 discussion with them may be all you need to resolve your pending issue.

6. Hire a property management company

property management

If you prefer not to deal with tenants yourself you can consider hiring a property management company.

Property management companies can get pricey, but they come with lots of services that make them worth it. Management companies can handle rent collection, tenant screening, marketing, and maintenance of your property.

Property management companies free you to focus on other things such as other businesses you may own, or on other properties that are not as troublesome.

Perhaps one of the most useful services that property management companies perform is conflict resolution and eviction. They do the “dirty work” on your behalf so you can focus on your life.

We’ve all heard horror stories of evictions going south fast, so having an expert handle it for you can be a huge stress relief. By having a degree of separation from your tenants, you’ll be able to solve minor or major disputes with less hassle on your part.

7. If there’s any illegal activity going on, call law enforcement

renting illegal activitiy

If you have any evidence of illegal activities such as illegal drug usage or distribution, prostitution, or illegal gambling, don’t handle it yourself, call the police first.

If other tenants or neighbors are complaining about illegal activities, ask them to send you a letter or email mentioning their observations. Reassure them that you won’t reveal their identities without permission.

Be aware though that an arrest won’t automatically result in a legal eviction. Depending on your state’s laws, your tenant may retain the right to inhabit the property as stated in the lease agreement.  If it ever comes to this, make sure you contact an attorney to discuss your options. 

8.  Escalate your responses

Tenant and landlord talking

Not every issue with your tenants warrants the same level of response. If you have a nitpicky tenant who complains about everything and is calling you every hour, don’t just ignore their calls, or ask them to leave. Document their requests, schedule a conversation with them and talk about the pending issues.

Treat them with respect and let them know how the problem will be fixed.

If your tenant is causing damage to the property, send them an official request to repair the damages. If they are unable to do so, hire a professional yourself fix it, and send them the bill.

Explain that the bill could be covered with the security deposit, or by prorating the amount into their monthly bill. If they still refuse to handle it, send them a Cure or Quit Notice, explaining that if they fail to pay for repairs, they will be asked to leave.

If you need to escalate your response further, and you prefer the tenant to leave, sometimes simply asking them to leave will be enough.

This is particularly effective if their lease is only a month or two away from expiring. If the lease still has several months to go, and they refuse to leave, you can consider paying them to leave. It may sound crazy to give your tenant money on top of their bad behavior, but sometimes it is actually a cheaper option than taking legal action. 

If you go this route, make it clear that you’ll pay only after they have left the house and consult with an attorney to make sure there are no laws being violated in your state.

9. Take legal action for eviction


Using legal action should only be used if you’ve exhausted all other possibilities. This process can easily get messy, and expensive.

If you reach this point, hire a qualified lawyer and follow every eviction rule required by your state and county. Don’t do anything stupid like threaten the tenant with violence, lock them out of the house or turn off their utilities.

Let the courts settle the matter.

Each state has a set of laws that govern when and how a landlord can evict a tenant. A tenant can be evicted for not paying rent or for violating the lease or rental agreement. Sometimes a tenant may have good reasons (legal grounds) to fight against an eviction.

There two main reasons for eviction:

  • Nonpayment of rent
  • Lease Violations

In Florida, there are many eviction laws which protect the tenant and you the landlord so it’s best to become familiar with these and speak with an attorney to make sure that you use all of your legal options available.

10. Sell your property to a real estate investor

Sell rental property to investor

If you’re fed up with renting your property and want to be done with property management altogether, you can always try selling the property, and let someone else deal with your tenants.

Companies such as ours at Property Nation specialize in purchasing real estate from landlords who need to sell house fast Miami. Especially when it comes to selling a property with difficult tenants.

We will purchase your house as-is and make you a fair cash offer. If your tenant is still in the home, we can deal with the eviction process for you after purchasing the property.

Give us a call, tell us about your situation, and we’ll make you an offer. There are no obligations and if you accept our fair offer we can purchase the house quickly to get you out of your situation as quickly as possible. 

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