How to Work with Challenging Tenants
Difficult tenants can make your job as a landlord difficult. Some may default on their monthly rent, while others may sometimes damage your property. You may have to deal with problem tenants at some point, but there are tips that can help you work with them. Read below for more info.
Good Communication is a Key
Professional communication strategies are vital when dealing with difficult renters. Effective and positive talks help eliminate tenant-related misconceptions and difficult situations. For example, renters may request that you extend a due date or waive late fees. This is a very regular occurrence, but if you've observed any tenants abusing your generosity or consistently violating the lease restrictions, you should confront the issue first.
A non-communication technique would not be effective. Keep in mind that tenants may have encountered issues with their prior landlord, causing them to feel uneasy and distrustful of you. They may have been unlawfully evicted or duped by a bad property manager. Unfortunately, such events do occur. You must recognise that your primary responsibility is to treat your tenants with respect, to offer good living circumstances, and to strive to take prompt action when necessary.
Stay Calm, Rational, and Objective
It is easy (and understandable) to become irritated with difficult tenants. However, showing anger will just make things worse. When discussing the problems your tenants are causing them, do not allow your emotions to cloud your judgment. Be the voice of reason as a landlord. Evaluate the situation from all angles and spend the time necessary to choose the best course of action. Tenants will be much more open to what you have to say if you are composed and courteous.
Lease Requirements and Terms
The lease should, at the least, specify the terms of the tenancy, including the amount of rent, the due date, any possible grace period for late rent, and any penalties for delinquencies. A lease should also include the duration of the tenancy as well as the procedures for executing, terminating or breaking the lease in the event of disputes. Review any lease provisions that pertain to the number of permitted pets, rules for pet conduct, noise infractions, maintenance and cleaning requirements, and property maintenance requirements like exterior maintenance, lawn care, or snow removal from sidewalks (depending on your area). To seek redress, you will need to be able to point to the provisions of the lease that the renter has broken.
Keep written records of everything. One of the most effective ways to minimize confrontation is to document everything. While doing so will be more work up front, it will also reduce the likelihood of a problematic renter disputing a bill or other issue with you. It is worth the effort. When checking the property, do not rely solely on a written record; whenever possible, take photographs and videos with a timestamp. Thus, no tenant will be able to contest essential security deposit deductions.
Consider Hiring a Property Manager as a Liaison Between the Tenant and Landlord
You're not alone if dealing with impolite tenants has you feeling at your end. Thanks to property managers, those landlords who once stood in your rigid shoes can now put their toes in the sand. One of the many duties that property managers often perform on-site is serving as a conduit for communication between tenants and landlords.
Set clear payment terms, such as asking for Post-Dated Checks before they move in.
If you’ve already experienced tenants who do not pay their rent on time, then you should have learned your lesson. Set preventative measures like requiring a PDC before moving in. This way, you're sure that they will have to settle their obligations, and it's on the banks so that means more legal grip that they will fund the check so as to prevent questions or problems from the bank. Always check the tenant and landlord laws in the state in which you own.
How to Determine the Suitable Tenants for Your Property
It’s best to increase your chances of having a good tenant to begin with. If you have properly screened and vetted your next tenant, you can move forward knowing that the chances of having a good tenant are increased. You can achieve this by following a 3-step screening process that consists of:
a. Set Your Rental Criteria: Know what minimum requirements you have for tenants and share them with all potential applicants before you start scheduling showings and accepting applications. This will help simplify the approval process and ensure your tenant screening is impartial, fair, and not subject to emotional decisions. Your rental criteria checklist should include things like: rental history, income, references, credit reports, pet policy, smoking policy, etc.
b. Pre-Screening Questions: Once you are prepared to start receiving inquiries and scheduling showings, have a list of pre-screening questions you can ask all prospective renters before they apply. This allows you to only proceed with viewings and applications from only suitable candidates. This makes sure each has satisfied your rental criteria outlined above.
c. Conduct Comprehensive Tenant Screening: Once you decide to accept an application from a tenant, use an online tenant screening service to check their credit score, prior rental or eviction history, criminal history (where allowed), income and debts.
If, however, you still have a difficult tenant, opening clear lines of communication is important. Often, especially if this tenant has passed your screening requirements from step 1, they have experienced some sort of hardship or mismanagement of their resources. They might feel embarrassed or defensive about it, and are either unwilling to tell the truth, or have been hiding this history and now they are under water. Giving them the ability to come clean can usually lead to a willingness to work out a resolution that works for both parties.