5 Tips for Dealing with Difficult Renters

By Madison White on January 31, 2019

We would all like to believe that whoever we rent to will be clean, kind, and responsible people. Of course, this won’t always be the case. Despite your attempts to vet out people that won’t take care of your property, you might not always pick the right renters. For many landlords, it is not necessarily a question of if you’ll have issues with your renters, but when. Having a few strategies lined up will help you and your tenants make the best of any difficult situation.

1. Make sure that late payment consequences and tenancy rules are clearly stated and in the contract

Ideally, your written contracts and tenancy agreements would be written and finalized before anyone moves in. In case any conflict arises, and especially if it turns into a legal issue, having the rules of the contract in writing is essential. If you would like to make a new, revised contract, you will have to consult with your tenants and have them sign a new document. Remember that any sort of contract or legal agreement should be typed and written in formal, proper grammar. If you think this may be an issue for you, it is worth it to ask someone who is an expert for help.

2. Have monetary consequences for all of your rules

For some people, it is far easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission. The same can also apply to tenants who think they can cheat their way around your rules. To make sure that your rules are properly enforced and followed, it usually helps to have monetary consequences. For example, if your contract simply states “No pets allowed,” tenants could get around this by having exotic animals and claiming they aren’t pets, or by hiding them in less obvious places. However, having your contract state “No animals allowed. Any animals found in the property will result in a $100 fine,” is far more effective if you want your property to remain pet free.

3. Take photographic and written records

Keeping organized, thorough records is essential to resolving potential disagreements. If possible, you should have pictures and detailed notes about the condition of the property before moving in. It is common knowledge that living in an area will cause it to deteriorate, but sometimes tenants will try and claim that damage was there before they moved in when it really wasn’t. If you’ll be performing maintenance checks, ask the tenants if it is okay to take pictures of things like walls and permanent appliances. Explaining that this is happening to protect neither you nor them from incurring surprise costs should help them understand. Keep in mind that you must give notice before entering the property, usually written notice is best.

4. Remember to remain calm and objective at all times

Renters disagreements can often be about money or unintended damage. These topics usually cause emotions to run high and can lead to stressful situations. While it is important that you treat people with respect and empathy, you also need to be fair to yourself and your business. Depending on the situation and on your renter’s history of paying rent, you may decide to extend the rent deadlines. However, be aware that extending the deadline could cause them to ask for more extensions in the future which could lead to more financial issues. Your renters might start to rely on you to ease their financial woes, but keep in mind that you are not their bank nor their family. If this continues to be an issue, you will likely have to become very firm in your demands.

If you are managing one or multiple properties on your own and have a difficult time effectively dealing with renter’s issues, it may be worthwhile to look into hiring someone to help you. Having another person to back up your demands, or make them for you, can be a big help in dealing with tenants.

5. As a last resort, move to eviction

Eviction is usually a stressful, tedious, and difficult process for everyone involved, but it is there to help property owners. It is not advisable to threaten eviction unless the situation has escalated to a point that you don’t think you can reconcile with your renters. While it is something you would rather not do, in some situations, it may be unavoidable and end up being the best solution in the long run.

As humans, we will make mistakes and slip up: sometimes an accident happens and something breaks, sometimes we run out of money before rent is due. As a landlord, there are many things you can do to deal with renters both good and bad. Most of the time, however, you will be following your gut to help you decide when people need a break this once or need to move on for good.

By Madison White

Uloop Writer
Wichita State University
Madison graduated with her Master's degree in Creative Writing from the University of Manchester (UK), and holds Bachelor's degrees in English and Creative Writing from Wichita State University. She currently teaches English at Wichita State University and works as a freelance writer and blogger on her website Madison White Writes and elsewhere.

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