How to Deal with Difficult Tenants

How to Deal with Difficult Tenants

A professional landlord dealing with bad tenants.

A professional landlord dealing with bad tenants.
Being a landlord sure has its ups and downs. You have seemingly the best, easiest tenants most days. You’re feeling like you’ve made a great investment and you’re living the life. Until you’re not. One day it all hits the fan. You need to prepare yourself for how to deal with difficult tenants. It will happen. If you have kept a great relationship with them, it can be an easy fix. Just make sure your relationship and expectations are clear right from the start.

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Be Clear From the Start

When you first met your tenants, were your expectations clear? Did you do a background check, credit check, and formal interview? This can definitely work in your favor moving forward. An interview is key to starting a healthy landlord/tenant relationship. You can easily get a good or bad vibe from an interview and determine whether it’s someone that is a good fit for the living environment you are offering. Although unforeseen circumstances can always arise, such as noisy neighbors and disagreements, it’s best to put it all out there in the beginning. Make sure they know what is expected of them and that you will do all you can (within reason) to keep them happy in their rental. 

Also, make sure that they understand that this is a professional relationship. Even if you’ve known this person for ages, it does not give them the right to take advantage of your generosity. You are their landlord and they are your tenant. You can be friendly of course, but keep it professional.

Know Your Rights

Keep updated on the rights you have as a landlord in the state you are in. Some states make it very difficult to evict a bad tenant. Even when the tenant is harassing the landlord, or they are being hard to deal with. As long as they are continuing to pay and stop their annoying actions, they may be hard to actually get out. So, know your rights and their rights and stay up to date on them. If you have a tenant that has turned on you and is abusing their rights, legal action can be taken. You deserve to have a respectable tenant who pays their rent on time and takes care of their side of the deal.

Keep Your Cool

When you get a complaint from a tenant, take it seriously. Knowing how to deal with a bad tenant is key. Meet up with them and show compassion. Show that you are on their side, and that you want the problem resolved just as much as they do. Keeping your landlord/tenant relationship good is very important. Once it is clear who is to blame (them, you, another tenant, or a neighbor), be ready to take action.

  • Always be professional. Keep calm at all times and keep your tone friendly. The less personal it gets, the better for everyone.
  • Offer to take care of it immediately. Do your best to make a plan quickly. Just as much as you want this problem to go away, so does everyone involved.
  • Understand the problem. Make sure you take the time to get all the facts. Are you just listening to your tenant complain about a neighbor? Get the neighbor’s side and compare their stories. Decide who is truly to blame and how it should be handled.
  • Show your concern. If this is a normal occurrence from the same tenant regularly, show the concern that they are after and promise to address it.

Apologize. Just apologize. Even if it’s not your fault. Be the bigger man. Some bad tenants are just looking for something to complain about. If you take care of it quickly and apologize for the situation, they will have much more respect for you than if you lose your temper and place blame back on them.

Build Your Landlord/Tenant Relationship

If your tenant knows that they can come to you with a problem and you will fix it quickly and maturely, your tenant will be happy and so will you. This is a big part of knowing how to deal with difficult tenants. Or rather, hopefully stopping them from becoming difficult tenants to begin with. 

You need to be clear, however, that you are here for them and that they too need to hold up their end of the deal. Keep a log of complaints and problems. If it mostly comes back to a certain tenant, you need to have a real conversation with them. Maybe they are not a great fit for your building and you could come to an agreement that would serve you both.

If the problem is with a tenant not paying rent on time, remind them that you have been holding up on your end. You address their needs and take care of everything you promise to. Don’t give them a reason to slack or not pay their rent. Keep the relationship professional and easy. Many people rent because they don’t want to have to take care of certain things (lawn, building maintenance, etc.). Keeping up with your work is just as important, as you can show them that it’s worth it to live in your dwelling.

Hire A Property Manager

If you love the idea of having rental income, yet don’t necessarily know how to deal with bad tenants, hire someone who does! A property manager can be a great resource. They can take care of the things that you don’t have the desire to take care of, yet you still reap the benefits of having an investment property. Simply removing yourself from the situation can feel like a huge weight is lifted off of your shoulders. With our tenant screening and application process, we aim to avoid difficult tenants before problems even arise. Being real estate investors ourselves, we specialize in property management services ranging from single to multi-family homes. Contact a team member and start renting your home without the hassle!

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10 Tips for First-Time Landlords Who Want Better Relationships With Tenants

10 Tips for First-Time Landlords Who Want Better Relationships With Tenants

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A sky scraper building managed by a first time landlord.
A positive landlord-tenant relationship can reduce many of the problems associated with property management. Tenants who maintain positive relations with their landlord throughout their tenancy are more likely to renew contracts and pay rent on time. Whether you’re a first-time landlord or a seasoned expert, all landlords need a guide to renting their multifamily housing units or investment properties at some point. Here are 10 landlord tips to help develop a better relationship with future and current tenants so that you can get the best experience when renting out your property.

#1. Screen tenants

Tenant screening is one of the most important things you can do before renting out your property. It lets you check the following information about a prospective tenant:

  • Background
  • Reference history
  • Credit history
    • Excellent credit — 750 and above
    • Good credit — 700 to 749
    • Fair credit — 650 to 699
    • Poor credit — 600 to 649
    • Bad credit — anything below 600
  • Employment information

All of this information lets you determine the perfect tenant for your property and mitigate risk. You will able to better understand a prospective tenant’s financial situation and prevent non-payment of rent and even eviction. Although tenant screening might requite an outlay, it should provide you with a good investment return.

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#2. Handle security deposits properly

You don’t need to collect a security deposit by law, but a deposit provides you with a financial safeguard in the event a tenant damages your property or doesn’t pay rent. Here are some security deposit tips:

  • Tell your tenants how you will be collecting, holding, and returning their security deposits. 
  • Inspect and document the condition of your property before the tenant moves in. This will avoid any disputes when the tenant moves out. 
  • Make sure your tenant understands the conditions for obtaining the security deposit at the end of the tenancy. 
  • Keep a tenant’s deposit in a safe place. 
  • Carry out an inspection of your property before you return the deposit. You might want to deduct any cleaning charges or damages from the deposit.

#3. Write a lease or agreement

A written lease or month-to-month agreement provides you and your tenant with peace of mind. You should establish what kind of relationship you have with your tenant, as well as the following information:

  • How you will handle tenant complaints.
  • How you will handle repair problems.
  • When you expect the rent.
  • Late penalties for non-payment of rent.
  • Rules about pets and guests.
  • Fire safety information.
  • Other important information about the tenancy. 

Using a property management service such as Wolfnest will take the stress out of tenant leases and agreements.

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#4. Provide secure premises

There are up to 2.6 million robberies in the United States every year, so you need to protect your property from would-be intruders. Here’s how to do it:

  • Install lighting.
  • Set up security cameras and alarms.
  • Trim landscapes. (This lets criminals know that someone is living in your property).
  • Ask your tenants to take the appropriate steps for safeguarding your property, such as locking doors and closing windows when they leave your home.

#5. Perform Repairs

As a landlord, you need to perform some essential repairs by law. Not making repairs on time can often lead to a breakdown in your relationship with a tenant, so it’s important to stay on top of any maintenance commitments. 

Lawsuits can sometimes arise because of injuries caused by defective conditions in properties. Keep your property in good condition to prevent the chances of this happening. This includes fixing any broken fixtures and fittings at the end of the tenancy. 

A property management service can take care of repairs for you, which will save you time.

#6. Give tenants notice before you enter the property

If tenants are living in your property, you need to provide 48 hours written notice before you enter the unit and 24 hours notice if you are showing the unit to a new tenant or purchaser. Not giving enough notice can lead to a strained relationship with tenants.

This shouldn’t stop you from wanting to enter your property, however. It is important you inspect your unit on a regular basis for damages and to make sure your tenants have all the services they require.

#7. Manage property managers

A property manager can take care of many of the tasks associated with the maintenance of your property, including tenant placement, listings management, and inspections. However, not all property managers are the same.

It’s essential that you carry out a full background check on any potential property manager as they will have full access to your unit at all times. In addition, you may be held financially responsible if a property manager is incompetent, negligent, or carries out a criminal offense.

#8. Disclose environmental hazards

You should tell tenants immediately about any environmental hazards on your property, such as mold or lead-based paint. You could be held responsible for a tenant’s health if a problem arises because of exposure to toxic environments. 

Maintaining your property will reduce any environmental hazards, and a property management service can do all the hard work for you.

#9. Resolve disputes

A home managed by a first time landlord.
There are many disputes that can arise over the course of a tenancy, and you should always try to resolve any problems as quickly as you can. Here are some quick tips:

  • Try to work out disputes without involving a lawyer, if you can. 
  • Talk to your tenant about disputes over rent, repairs, deposits, noise, building access, or issues that don’t require immediate eviction. 
  • Try to solve these problems by meeting your tenant face-to-face without hiring a third party.

#10. Obtain insurance

Insurance provides you with a financial safeguard in case a tenant tries to take you to court for alleged discrimination or injuries. You can also take out insurance to cover any costs associated with burglary, vandalism, fire, or storms. 

There are various insurers that will provide you with the financial protection you need, but shop around for the best cover. Comparing insurers online will help you get the best deals on property and liability insurance. 

These are a few tips for new landlords and a refresher for industry experts. Nonetheless, working with a property management company can help you develop deeper relationships with your tenants. Learn more about Wolfnest’s services or call 801-523-4230.

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