How to Handle Conflict Between Tenants as a Landlord

By Alicia Geigel on June 17, 2022

As a landlord, the last thing you want to deal with is a tenant issue. It is an unfortunate part of the job, but that doesn’t make it any less stressful, frustrating, or uncomfortable to deal with.

While you may consistently have great tenants over the years, there is always the likelihood of getting a bad apple among the batch of good ones. Sometimes, no matter how you spell out the rules of your lease agreement, there can be a tenant that will defy those rules and expect to get away with their actions without any consequences.

Handling a conflict with your tenant can be intimidating and uncomfortable. You want to carefully plan what you want to do and say in order to avoid more conflict, but you also don’t want to approach the situation in a soft manner only to be taken advantage of in the future. If you are a landlord or property manager dealing with some difficult tenant conflicts, here are five common tenant problems and solutions to help you resolve the issue in a professional, smooth manner!

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Before jumping into solutions to tenant conflicts and issues, it’s important to have an understanding of the rights of both you and your tenant in terms of the lease agreement. Lindsey Schober of Zillow makes an important note, stating, “Each state and municipality has unique laws and ordinances. Make sure you have a clear understanding of your landlord rights and responsibilities, tenant rights, and the basic workings of specific notices and eviction procedures.”

When you have a decent understanding of your rights as a landlord as well as the rights of any of your tenants, you will feel better about handling a tenant in the case they pose a significant problem.

5 Tenant Problems and Solutions to Fix Them

Problem: Late or Partial Payments: Sometimes, people fall on hard times. Being laid-off from a job, having unexpected medical problems, taking on caregiving for a family member, etc. are all situations that can potentially affect someone’s ability to pay their rent on time or even at all. There are also situations where people do have the money and simply fall behind on payments because of laziness or apathy to the rules.

Solution: If you are dealing with a tenant that has made a few late rent payments, or partially paid the rent but not all of it, sit down and talk with them first to determine if there is any significant lifestyle cause that has affected their income. People fall on hard times and it can be difficult to decide what bills to pay if they are balancing a hard financial situation. Additionally, their payday may not align with the rent due date, which could be another reason why payments are late or partial. In this case, try to work through a solution that can fit both of your needs. If you get the impression that the tenant is avoiding paying rent for another reason outside of what you deem is acceptable and understandable, impose a late fee and give them select chances before you terminate the agreement.

Problem: Property Damage: While some tenants are good about making the most of their interior decorating and abide by the rules of the lease agreement, others take decorating into their own hands and break the rules. This can include taking out carpet, painting, installing new hardware, etc.

Solution: Property damage is not something to take lightly as a landlord. Dealing with a property damage issue after the fact may be difficult, but you can do the following beforehand to cover your expenses as much as possible. Conduct a thorough walk-through before the tenants move in. Take pictures and record videos of every inch of the property to have a clear picture of what everything looks like before it is occupied. Additionally, spell out the details of what and what not to do to the property in the lease agreement, so that the tenants are legally and financially responsible for anything in the property that is damaged during their lease.

While your tenants are occupying the property, consider doing routine inspections to evaluate how well it is being kept or unkept.

Problem: Constant Complaints: Regarding tenants, there are some that are a joy to have and there are others who you wish you have never met. Unfortunately, you can please everyone and a handful of tenants, you may find that all you hear from them are constant complaints on matters that are not grounded in any truth or logic.

Solution: When it comes down to a tenant who does not know when to stop complaining or nagging about trivial issues that could easily be solved through their own effort, be sure to remind them of what you are and are not responsible for. In a blog post by Bay Property Management, they note, “Landlords are required to make certain repairs that are essential to the habitability or safety of the home. However, that does not mean you have to jump at every little request from tenants, knowing the difference will save time, money, and aggravation.”

Problem: Extended Guests: In the lease agreement with your tenant, the number of people living on the property should already be spelled out and established on the contract. In some cases, tenants will have extended guests that live with them, on your property, without being on the lease or paying rent. This can be a big liability for you as a landlord, which is why extended guests should not be tolerated.

Solution: If you find a tenant has been bringing in guests and letting them live in their rental property for an extended period of time, first confirm the issue and tell them that under their lease agreement, this is not allowed. If you get any backlash, consult a legal advisor and hash it out that way.

Problem: Breaking the Law: The very last thing you want to deal with is a tenant engaging in any kind of criminal activity while occupying your property, but it does happen. This could be dealing drugs or other illegal activities, so it’s important to know where you stand on the matter and when to involve law enforcement.

Solution: Plain and simple, if you find that a tenant is engaging in any illegal activity, go to the local law authorities to handle the situation. Justin Becker of Rent Direct suggests, “If laws are being broken or you fear for your or other tenants’ safety, call the police. Remember that even if a tenant is arrested, their lease does not become automatically void. A good attorney will help you with filing an eviction.”

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Image via Pexels

Dealing with a problem tenant and handling tenant problems can definitely be a headache. Unfortunately, they do happen and are a part of the job of being a landlord. The best thing to do in any tenant conflict is to remain calm, know your rights, and consult an attorney or law enforcement officer.

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