As a landlord, you’ll screen at least two tenants per property you have on average. When you screen someone and allow them to move into one of your properties, the last thing you think is that they’ll become a nightmare tenant.
Bad tenants can leave a bitter taste in the mouth of a landlord, but it’s essential to know how to deal with them because eventually, you’ll cross paths with one. Here are some need-to-know facts about dealing with your landlord-tenant issues.
Types of Tenants
Before jumping into how to handle the issues you might face with a destructive or abusive tenant, it’s essential to understand the different categories that bad tenants fall into. The types of tenants include:
- Rule-breaking tenant
- Late paying tenant
- The tenant that doesn’t pay
- Destructive tenant
The rule-breaking tenant is the one that doesn’t follow the guidelines you’ve put in place on your property. For example, if you’ve made it clear tenants have no pets in the building, but they do it anyway, this breaks the rules.
The late-paying tenant will be the tenant who constantly has a reason for not paying their rent on time and eventually could turn into the tenant that doesn’t pay their rent at all.
This means they’re occupying a property you’re not making any money off of, which can drastically affect your income. Lastly, the destructive tenant is the one that leaves your property in disarray and at times unrecognizable due to the damage they’ve left behind.
No matter what type of tenant you have, there are ways to deal with the issue without losing your mind.
Understand Your Rights
If you’re having issues with a tenant, the first thing you need to do is seek out legal help. Your legal team will be able to detail your rights as a landlord and the steps you can take to evict the tenant from the property.
If you don’t take the proper steps to remove them from your property, you could find yourself on the wrong side of the process, which can add more frustration to an already chaotic situation.
Your legal team can also help you enforce the lease the tenant signed. For example, if a tenant left at will without paying you the remainder of what they owe, your legal team could help enforce a lien.
This lien will help you recoup the unpaid funds, and you can move forward with renting the property out again in the future.
Without evidence, it’s much harder to prove things like tenant harassment of other tenants in court. As a landlord, documentation is necessary for record-keeping and covering your back if something happens.
Some things you should keep documentation of include:
- Complaints made against the tenant
- Warning notices sent to the tenant
- Phone calls and message interactions with the tenant
- Enter unit requests
If the tenant has failed to comply or make any changes to their behaviors and unit, you can begin to take steps towards evicting from the property. You should always send a warning letter to tenants for violations, making them aware that you know what’s going on and giving them a chance to rectify the situation.
This is to ensure the tenant can’t say you caught them by surprise or that they weren’t aware they were doing anything wrong. To keep accurate documentation, you should use updated CRM software.
This will make it easier to enter information and track each tenant’s account for the duration of the time they live in your property rental.
Ongoing Training is a Must
One of the number one things you shouldn’t do when dealing with an abusive or destructive tenant is threaten them or lose your cool. You should always remain professional no matter what they do.
Staying professional and calmly speaking to someone can be challenging, especially if you don’t have the proper training. All staff members should be trained at the beginning of their employment and throughout to ensure they’re aware of company policies on dealing with destructive tenants.
Staff should also understand how to be firm in conveying information without being rude or demeaning. For example, if a tenant continues to play loud music disturbing their neighbors, you’ll need to contact them to give them a warning.
Here are examples of the right and wrong ways to speak to the tenant.
Wrong: Turn down your music. It’s too loud.
Right: Hello, we’ve received some complaints about the music you’re playing. This is your warning to keep your music at an acceptable volume.
While the warning might not be well-received, it was firm and left no room for assumption that the tenant needed to make a change, or they’d face more severe consequences.
If you allow one tenant to break the property policies, you’ve got to let everyone break them. You need to stick to the policies and procedures outlined in the rule book no matter what happens.
These policies are in place to protect you as the landlord and the property if you ever face legal action from tenants or staff. If you break them, you leave yourself unprotected, and it can cause future issues with each of your properties.
Dealing with Bad Tenants
When you have bad tenants, it’s crucial to know how to deal with them and get your property back. Never stoop to their level, and always hire an expert legal team to help you through the eviction process.
Do you need a legal team with expertise in legal collections and commercial tenant evictions? Contact McKenna, McCausland, & Murphy, P.A. Litigation Advocates today.