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How to Handle a Troublesome Tenant

By Guest Author | December 10, 2015

Every landlord has to deal with a troublesome tenant at some point; these days it seems like a rite of passage for anyone making a property investment.


If you’ve already become a part of this population, then you know how stressful and aggravating dealing with a bad tenant can be. We’ve all heard the stories: tenants who turn your home into their own drug kitchen or the delusional tenants who think they deserve to live (without paying the same cost) in an apartment reminiscent of Carrie Bradshaw’s. No matter the case, a terrible tenant must be dealt with swiftly and carefully, and how you handle it can minimize the drama and quickly alleviate the situation.

Screening Is Your Best Friend

Your best weapon against terrible tenants comes before you even admit them to your home. To avoid ever dealing with a troublesome tenant again, do your best to make sure they’re screened well. For the next go around, use something like a SmartMove tenant background check, which will let you know whether a candidate has ever been evicted, run a credit check, and illuminate any criminal record they may have.

Stay Strict

Sometimes landlords are at fault for their tenant’s behavior. Bad apples are bad apples, but even good tenants pick up on cues from their landlord that result in renting misbehavior—even those that wouldn’t have given you any trouble otherwise. If you let rent come late one time, they may find that to be all the permission they need to be late every time. It might be tough to be strict at first, but enforcing the rules from the get-go will set the standard for the entirety of your renting relationship. If you don’t let them become late on their rent, they won’t.

Keep Your Cool

Flying off the handle on your terrible tenant won’t improve the situation for anyone, and could escalate the situation into something dangerous. Whatever you need to do to cool down before heading over to talk to your tenant, do so. Whether it’s sleeping on it, practicing meditation, or simply taking an intermediary with you to make sure nothing gets out of hand, use your resources to your advantage.

The Power of the Clause

Unfortunately, the law tends to be on the side of the tenant, so you need to do your due diligence and figure out any legal claim you have to get rid of the issue. It’s now time to review your lease, and search through for any clauses that might be grounds for eviction. If you don’t have an airtight contract, then consider your lesson learned for next time and place strategic clauses within your lease or rental agreement. You’ll also need to do this as quickly as possible, as in most states any action you take after they file a complaint (whether justified or not) will be considered retaliatory—in other words, you will lose your case.

A Property Manager

A nightmare renter is enough to scare any landlord off of personal property management, so it might be time for you to consider hiring a professional. If you’re non-confrontational and can’t handle the stresses of terrible tenants, it might be in your best interest to use a property management service. Hiring a property manager will reduce your liability, and give you a break from the interactions with your tenants while still receiving an income. These companies do require a fee starting at around 10 percent of your rental income, but the weight off your shoulders is often a worthy investment.

If All Else Fails

If eviction sounds like too strenuous of a procedure, and you are simply fed up with dealing with this nightmare of a tenant, you can resort to offering them money to leave. I know pride (and maybe some common sense) might have you shaking your head at this option, but you’d be surprised at how quickly you can get rid of your problem renter by offering them a little lump sum. The one-time loss of a few dollars can be worth the stress relief, and if you’re ready to wipe your hands clean, this may be your best and quickest option.

If you feel like you haven’t laughed in years because of a terrible tenant, consider using these guidelines to help you out of this all too common pickle.


About the author: Laura McDonald is a contributing writer for Realty Biz News. 

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