Whether you own one or multiple properties, you’ll likely have to deal with a troublesome tenant at least once during your career. While it’s undoubtedly frustrating, part of being a long-lasting landlord is being a problem solver and learning to deal with all kinds of people. To help you plan for potential issues, and be the most adaptable landlord you can be, let’s look at the different types of bad tenants and how to deal with them.
The Tenant That Disappears
Many landlords will tell you that a vacancy is one of the biggest money and time eaters. However, there’s something even more frustrating that isn’t talked about enough–disappearing tenants. You’re left in this landlord limbo of not having anyone to pay rent and dealing with any property they may have left behind.
To rent to a new tenant, you must get rid of the old one, but how can you do that if they’ve gone AWOL? You first need to establish abandonment. If they haven’t left expensive property behind, aren’t paying rent, haven’t submitted a change of address to the post office, and their emergency contacts aren’t any help, they’ve likely abandoned the property. Once you’ve established abandonment, you can file an eviction case.
The Tenant That Damages Property
Some tenants don’t have much regard for your property or destroy property out of anger, but not all “destruction” means breaking something. Sometimes, tenants like to make unauthorized renovations or improvements, like painting the walls or changing out the fridge, which still counts as destruction. Either way, your lease agreement is your best tool and your biggest ally.
Whether you should allow tenants to make renovations is entirely up to you, but whatever your stance is should be clearly stated in your lease agreement. Stating what tenants are and aren’t allowed to do in the agreement makes it much easier to hold them accountable and get them to revert the renovations. Additionally, the agreement should state that move-in and move-out inspections are mandatory. When everyone is on the same page about the state of the property, it’s much harder for tenants to deny responsibility for damages and may even save you the trouble of going to court.
The Tenant That Never Pays on Time
There will be tenants that find every excuse in the book not to pay their rent on time or not pay it in full. Ideally, the screening process will weed out these types of bad tenants, but if one slips through, you’ll have to follow a strict procedure to deal with them correctly.
Your first step is to send out a rent reminder–sometimes tenants genuinely forget, but this will also help you in court if you have to prove a pattern of delinquent payments. If they still won’t pay rent or reach out to you, give them a call. Don’t overdo it, though, as tenants can use these multiple calls as evidence to accuse you of harassment. If nothing works, you need to send a pay or quit notice, which is the first step of the eviction process. Depending on your state, you’ll then need to wait three to five days to begin taking legal action.
If you want to avoid dealing with bad tenants altogether, having a comprehensive lease agreement and an in-depth screening process can help weed out difficult tenants before they take root.
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