You’ve seen the tenant horror stories: the late payers, the damage-causers, and the problematic tenants. You know that if you’re going to be a successful landlord, you must avoid these situations at all costs. But how?
We’ve compiled a list of seven tips for managing problematic tenants (and their issues) more effectively. From screening prospective tenants to establishing clear policies and expectations. And giving your renters an easy way out when things go wrong. These are vital steps every landlord should take before renting out that first apartment or house.
Screen prospective tenants carefully.
- Check their credit score.
When you find a tenant, you should always check their credit report before renting. It will give you an idea of whether or not they are likely to pay the rent on time. And it will also give you more insight into how responsible they are. If someone has a bad history of paying bills and debts in general. Then it is probably best not to rent your property out to them—you don’t want that drama in your life!
Inspect your property before and after they move in.
If you’re moving a new tenant into your property, you first want to inspect the home. And ensure everything is in working order. If there’s any damage, they are legally obligated to pay for it. So make sure they aren’t stealing anything or damaging your property. It is also an excellent time to check if they violate any laws (say, by growing marijuana).
If you already have tenants living in your house or apartment building and something goes wrong with their lease agreement (like rent not being paid on time), it’s best practice to give them notice before evicting them.
Require renters insurance.
Require renters insurance.
Renters insurance is essential because it protects you and the renter if something goes wrong in your apartment. A policy covering burglary, fire, flooding, and other major disasters can help you avoid spending thousands of dollars out of pocket to repair or replace damaged property (and save you from evicting a tenant with no place to go). You should also require earthquake coverage—many policies cover it for free! If your tenant doesn’t have renters insurance, make sure they sign an agreement stating they understand their financial responsibility in case of an accident on your property. You know what comes next if they don’t abide by this agreement!
Establish clear policies and expectations.
Establish clear policies and expectations. Before you even begin the search, it’s essential to have an idea of what kind of tenants you’re looking for. You can look at our list of common landlord questions to get started. If your rental needs immediate repairs, we also have handy guides on finding an excellent handyperson who can perform essential maintenance. Once you’ve figured out what type of tenant will work best in your situation (it’s always good to make sure they aren’t total slobs), it’s time to start drafting guidelines for them!
Here are a few examples:
- No smoking inside the house except in designated areas outside on the patio.
- Kitchen appliances like ovens and microwaves must be used with care; no cooking raw meat products such as chicken wings or salmon steaks (unless pre-cooked).
Get everything in writing.
- Keep your tenant happy by providing a written lease agreement.
- If you need help understanding English, it’s best to find someone who can explain things clearly to your tenants.
- Don’t forget to include all of the vital information in this document: how long they will be renting from you; when rent is due; what is included in that rent amount (utilities and maintenance costs); what happens if they break any of the rules or damage anything while living in your property; whether pets are allowed on premises or not; what happens if they want out early (and how much notice would be required).
- Now that we’ve covered all of those important details, let’s talk about something else: how long should a lease last? It depends on many factors, including the type of property being leased and where it is located (rents tend to be higher where more jobs are available). It also depends on other factors, such as whether or not either party has broken any rules during negotiations. Even though these things may seem unfair right now (and sometimes they do feel like an injustice), remember that one day soon, this whole process will be behind us!
Communicate early and often.
The most important thing to do is to be clear about your expectations. If you want your tenants to pay on time and keep their homes clean, say so. Set up a system for communicating with tenants—email, text messages, or phone calls work well—and stick to it. Tenants need time to respond. Be patient if they don’t get back to you immediately (or at all). When you communicate with them, be polite and clear about what’s happening in an issue their actions might have caused.
Be empathetic, but don’t be a pushover.
- Be empathetic, but don’t be a pushover.
Being a landlord is hard enough without having to deal with problematic tenants. But the fact of the matter is that you’ll have to deal with them eventually—and it’s essential to understand that there are certain things you can do to make this process easier for everyone involved.
The first thing I’d recommend doing is being empathetic and compassionate toward your tenant’s situation. But also ensuring they know the line regarding acceptable behavior and what will happen if they cross it. (for example: “I understand that sometimes things get messy when people move out, so if there are any issues regarding cleanliness or other concerns related to damage caused by your departure from this property”).
When there’s a violation of the lease, take action quickly.
When problematic tenants violate the lease, you need to take action quickly. Your first step is to give them notice of the violation and allow them time to respond—following all of your state’s laws. If they don’t respond or you can’t resolve the problem through negotiation, proceed with eviction.
Remember: being a landlord is not easy! Tenants can be frustratingly difficult at times.
Tenants can make or break your experience as a landlord, so it’s critical to know how to keep things running smoothly and professionally.
Ideally, you’ll want to choose tenants who will take excellent care of your property and pay on time every month—but that’s how things go in real life! So here are some tips for making the best of an already-difficult situation:
- Have a written lease agreement. Please make sure both parties understand their responsibilities before signing anything; they must be on the same page about what is expected.
- Develop a process for dealing with problematic tenants. You don’t want to have this happen at all—but if someone breaks the rules (like by skipping out on rent), having an established system in place will help ensure things run smoothly once they come up in conversation with them again later down there road when they come back around looking for something else.
A good tenant is like a good friend: they’re there when you need them and bring joy into your life, and when it comes time to part ways, it’s hard. But if you take the proper steps to screen potential renters, build positive relationships with your tenants, and enforce the terms of their lease—all while staying professional throughout the process—then hopefully, your tenant experience will be pleasant.