These days more and more people are looking at real estate as an opportunity to generate more income – specifically rental properties.
However, if you’re luck takes a turn for the worst and you end up with bad tenants, your wonderful investment can quickly turn into a nightmare!
Irresponsible tenants are notorious for being behind on rent, causing damage to the property, and being downright disrespectful to you as a landlord. If you’ve had the “pleasure” of dealing with these types of people, you know first hand how quickly you can start to regret being a landlord.
But Don’t Worry! There Are Ways To Handle Bad Tenants.
If this has happened to your or is happening right now, we’ve got some tips and tricks to help you battle the situation as it’s happening or be prepared for when it happens again.
Try To Be Understanding
This might be the most challenging piece of advice we have.
When a tenant falls behind on rent (for the first time), your initial reaction will be to expect the worst. Expect that they’ll never pay. Expect that they’ll never leave. And, expect that your property will get damaged and neglected in the meantime. This is not always the case.
Sometimes good, moral people find themselves in a tough situation financially. And your reaction here will set the tone for how your landlord-tenant relationship develops.
If an otherwise wonderful, long-term tenant is late on rent, you shouldn’t have to evoke the highest penalty outlined in the lease. Try to find an opportunity to sit down and discuss the problem as adults. Give them a call, letting them know that you would like to talk about their infringement and help them find a solution that works for both of you. It’s best to stay calm and not blow the situation out of proportion. The last thing you want is to potentially lose a great tenant who, with a bit of time and patience, would be able to make up the missed payment.
Stick to Your Guns
But, this doesn’t mean you should let people walk all over you. You can only be understanding to a point.
Once it goes beyond that, chances are you could be dealing with a tenant who is deliberately looking for ways to skip out on rent or repairs. Be understanding but don’t let them think they can get away with it again.
Be firm with your policy regarding paying rent on time. While there are situations where you can be flexible, simply not having the rent four months in a row isn’t acceptable. Managing the property can be one of the most difficult aspects of being a landlord and is the reason why many investors hire a property manager or agency to collect the rent on their behalf.
Any and all interactions should be recorded and saved. Take pictures as needed. In situations where damage has occurred or repairs are required. Screenshot text messages, download emails, take notes detailing the time and date during phone calls.
If you’re concerned that you can’t prove anything during a phone call, inform the tenant that you’ll send them a short email detailing the main points of the discussion and you’d like them to respond confirming their understanding. You could even politely mention in the email that “a failure to respond will mean that they agree with the contents of the email.” This might not stand up if it ever went to court but it may encourage them to respond.
Hire a Property Manager
As mentioned above, hiring a property manager can take the pain and stress out of collecting rent. Plus, that’s not all they do. A property manager will: screen prospective tenants, take care of maintenance, advertise your rentals, handle tenant issues and complaints, and even deal with the eviction process on your behalf.
If you’re planning to manage multiple rental units, hiring a property manager is the right way to go! Unless you’re looking for a full-time job as a stressed-out landlord.
Hopefully, it won’t come to this. Evicting a tenant is a long and stressful process that varies state to state.
First of all, you need to have a valid and justifiable reason to ask the tenant to move out. They need to have breached the lease or fallen behind on rent. Simply not liking their attitude is not a good enough reason.
At NO point are you allowed to take matters into your own hands, even if they are causing property damage! You cannot show up unannounced no matter what or try to threaten them into leaving. You must follow proper protocol at all times. Regardless of the damage being caused, any threatening behavior from you will work in their favor.
You will need a court order to remove the tenant’s belongings or change the locks. And in order to get the courts on your side, they need to see that you as the landlord are completely justified in your actions.
You will need to provide a formal notice of eviction that includes the day they need to pay by and the amount owed if they want to stay. Place it on their front door and send certified mail so you can prove they received it. You will have to file with the courts and go through a hearing if the tenant still refuses to move. This is the moment that you will be glad that you documented everything!
Bad tenants are few and far between. With careful screening and an iron-clad lease, you can ensure peaceful coexistence between you and your tenants!