Difficult tenants can make the life of a landlord a living nightmare.
Some tenants are careless in your home and damage your property, and are unresponsive when you try and address the issue. Others are late with their rent payments or refuse to abide by the lease guidelines you set.
Most landlords have a horror story or two, but if you follow these few tips, you can avoid the worst problems.
1. Be rational and speak calmly
Yelling at tenants when they cause problems will only make the situation worse. Being angry is understandable, but it’s important to keep a level head.
Evaluate the situation rationally and leave you emotions out of it. The fact that it’s your property and your money can make you extremely frustrated, but it’s best to step back and calm down before taking action.
Tenants are more likely to be responsive if you are calm and collected.
2. Condition tenants to treat you properly
If you are nonchalant about your relationship with your tenant, they’re likely to try and take advantage of you.
If your tenant is late with a payment, reprimand them immediately. Otherwise, they will think they can get away with late payments and will do so again in the future. If they don’t comply immediately, keep following up so they realise that you won’t drop an issue if they ignore you.
If you are clear on your rules and enforce them accordingly, you’ll set a standard that your tenants will have to get used to if they want to stay at the property.
3. Get the tenants onside
There is no benefit in making an enemy of someone who is paying you money. Being kind will ensure that your tenants have no excuse to treat you badly or ignore you when you try to address an issue.
Responding to emails quickly, calling them back and being patient, are simple things you can do to win over your tenant. If you build a genuine relationship with your tenants, they are much more likely to comply with your rules and be pleasant occupants.
4. Hire a property manager
Hiring a property manager whose job it is to deal with tenants can be the single biggest thing you do to save you from major headaches. Property managers deal with difficult tenants on a daily basis so they are experienced at fixing problems. A property manager will also do things like chasing rent payments, scheduling and hiring repairmen as needed, and be the first point of contact when tenants have a problem.
Hiring a property manager will also free up a lot of your time, as managing a property can be quite time consuming.
Make sure you consider these things when hiring a property manager:
- Ask about their experience and if they specialise in any particular area or rental types.
- Be clear about all the services they will provide and ensure they will do everything you require.
- Ask them for a reference and have a quick chat to some of their current landlords and see if they are satisfied.
5. Keep a written record of everything
Keep a record of conversations you’ve had with the tenants, noting down what was discussed and what you asked them to do. Also keep records of maintenance work done and any infringements of your rules. This will mean a bit more work on your behalf, but will be worth the trouble if your tenant ever tries to dispute something with you.
6. Ask your tenant to leave
If you’ve exhausted all diplomatic avenues and you’ve just had enough of a tenant who is a repeat offender, consider asking them to vacate the premises. Simply send them a Written Notice to Vacate and they should move as per your contract.
If they refuse to leave, you may be forced to evict them. This should be avoided because it can be a costly process. Make sure you have done everything else possible before evicting them.
If you must evict your tenant, make sure you have sufficient grounds to do so. You can only evict a tenant if they:
- Fail to pay rent
- Fail to move out at the end of their lease
- Violate the terms of the lease.
You can’t evict people simply because you don’t get along, so make sure you have sufficient grounds to serve an eviction notice before you proceed.
Written By Mark Ribarsky, founder of Property Managers Melb.