Dealing with problem tenants is something every landlord will face at some point in time. Many different situations lead to challenges with your tenants, but you should follow these crucial steps which each resident. These include maintaining a respectful and professional environment with your tenants, keeping well documented and organized records, and enforcing the rules and regulations of your lease.
Some landlords may be able to handle difficult tenants on their own, but diligent follow-ups and conflict resolution can take their toll. A stressed landlord makes mistakes. It may be in the best interest of a landlord to hire a property manager. A property manager can handle the day to day decisions and tenant issues, and they can be most helpful should your tenant issues require legal action and even eviction.
Documentation is Key
The first step in establishing a working relationship between tenant and landlord is having clear documentation of your policies and then firmly but professionally enforcing those policies. It's vital to lay out the rules concretely and concisely, beginning with the lease agreement.
Drafting this type of document requires knowledge of rental property laws in your area and attention to detail. A general form may allow for loopholes, which is why having a property rental expert such as a property manager can be a real asset. A property manager can work with a tenant from the application on through to the end of their residency, providing and maintaining records throughout their lease.
This documentation is vital throughout a tenant’s lease. Documenting includes setting up a system for maintenance issues, keeping track of all complaints from and about the tenant, and handling and maintaining accounts of rental payments. This documentation has to be considered a high priority because of the potential use in disputes the tenant may have with you or with another tenant.
Keeping track of these things can be as simple as maintaining an electronic spreadsheet or utilizing management software, but with the amount of information held it could become a full-time job, especially if the tenant proves difficult. A property manager will be equipped to document any incidents, maintenance repairs, complaints, and payment records.
Documentation of damages is also necessary. A helpful application might be something to consider that shows a clear before and after picture of the residence for any potential disputes. This application can be utilized during the opening and closing inspections and throughout the tenants stay. Along with these documents, a property manager will know the different notices you must present to a difficult resident so if eviction is necessary no loophole will catch you up.
Tips On Dealing with Difficult Tenants
As mentioned, difficult tenants can come in many varieties. The most common problems a landlord faces with their tenants are late and no pay, noisy/disruptive tenants, tenants that do considerable damage to the property, and tenants that conduct illegal activity on the premises. You can find a fuller description of these problematic tenants here.
With each of these situations, the best course of action is to follow the rules you’ve set at the time of the lease, keep a level head, and maintain your professionalism. One way to help preserve this distance is making sure to not rent to friends and family. Not renting to those you know can be difficult when a family member is in need, or a friend seems like they could benefit from a decent rental.
The last thing you want to do is have to get past due rent from a loved one. You also don’t want to develop close relationships with your tenants. If you were to get too close with a tenant, you open yourself up to manipulation. The worst of the manipulative tenants are referred to as “Professional Tenants.” These tenants will go to any length to avoid paying rent and are often well versed in the legal loopholes of renting.
How Can a Property Manager Help?
Avoiding the pitfalls of screening and continuing the relationships with tenants, especially one that may turn out to be a Professional Tenant, can be overwhelming which is why many turn to property management for help. With a property manager, you can be assured to have a legal screening process that is thorough and, above all, legal.
A property manager can bring his or her expertise and experience having screened hundreds if not thousands of renters. Once they’ve found qualified tenants, a property manager will take on the task of attending to those tenants needs. Fulfilling those needs means taking the late-night calls, attending to minor and major emergencies; basically, being available 24 hours a day.
Hiring a property manager gives you the freedom to be as involved as you choose and puts a person between yourself and the tenant. This third party is especially important when it comes to giving notices for violations of the lease and pursuing the eviction process. The eviction process requires working with the courts and can become costly. A property manager can attain legal assistance and work with you through the process. A property manager can do this while maintaining professional communication with the tenant.
Working with tenants can be rewarding but very challenging. Having a property manager in your corner can be useful when navigating the legal and social aspects of working with renters. Property managers can also handle the intense documentation and scheduled issuing of notices required with problem tenants. Download our free guide and find the best property manager to fit your needs.