When to Draw the Line With a Bad Tenant

Managing rental properties may be one of the more stable jobs in the world (people will always need a place to live), but it comes with its own unique set of challenges, the most prominent being tenant management. Knowing how to deal with a bad tenant is crucial in ensuring your property remains well-kept, the community safe, and your overall reputation as a landlord protected.

Drawing The Line

If you know you have a bad tenant you need to deal with, take a moment to think about the measures you’re going to take with them.

How “bad” is bad in this situation, and does it require a reprimand or possibly an eviction? Don’t pursue eviction unless necessary; it’s a costly affair that drags in lots of legalities, and some tenants/situations simply aren’t “bad” enough to warrant this move.

Where you draw the line is ultimately up to you, but a solid tenant management practice is to make sure that a bad tenant clearly knows what your lines are and how they can fix the situation if they step over those lines. Dealing with unnecessary complaints can really eat a large chunk out of your time, so be sure to set ground rules on what will be tolerated.

When To Draw The Line

Some familiar lines need to be drawn no matter what your tenant situation or your tenant management style. These are instances that most landlords would agree call for a formal reprimand, or at the very worse (if the bad tenant continues to offend) warrant eviction.

If you have proof they’ve broken terms of the lease agreement

Agreements shouldn’t be trifled with by either party, but some tenants still try. Maybe they’re keeping a pet in a no-pet apartment, and you have video footage of them entering the apartment with the animal. No matter the situation, firmly remind the bad tenant of the lease agreement terms and give them a set date to fix the offense.

If you spot borderline behaviors that are repetitive

Borderline behaviors can be anything from bouts of anger to depression, or even addictive habits. Depending on their severity, these behaviors can affect a tenant’s ability to pay you on time or keep the property clean. If a tenant’s behavior issues reach this point, you have every right to tell them you expect professionalism and reliability in your interactions and won’t tolerate their behavior should it continue to affect the relationship.

If they are avoiding you and not returning your calls

Probably one of the trickier aspects of tenant management, avoidance and lack of contact can be caused by any number of factors. However, a bad tenant is usually avoiding you on purpose, so formal warnings are more than called for here. Remember as the landlord, your job isn’t necessarily to find out why they’re avoiding you, but instead to get them to contact you.

If a single check bounces

It may sound harsh to draw the line here, but a bounced check always means your tenant is in trouble, even if they’re just bad at keeping track of their finances (which still isn’t a great quality in a tenant). You don’t want to deal with even more bounced checks in the future, so nip this problem in the bud right from the start. You just might have someone who thinks their wallet is bigger than it actually is.

If you notice damage to the outside of the property

Outside damage is unsightly and reflects poorly on you, not just the bad tenant. Sometimes, outside damage can indicate that the renter doesn’t bother to take care of the inside, either, so addressing the problem immediately is a good tenant management technique to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Be Proactive

Dealing with problem tenants is never fun, but addressing them the moment you see them doing something wrong will help get issues taken care of more efficiently than putting them off. You can also do your best to avoid bad tenants by making sure that whenever you’re looking for a new tenant, you screen them up front and you lay out all expectations and rules as clearly and simply as possible. It’s more work for you during the search, but it can save you a lot of hassle, headache, and money as you move forward.

And if you ever feel your lines need to be re-drawn or clarified, make sure your tenants all know about them, either by having them sign a form that says they received and agree to the new rules, or by having them email you directly. Tenant management is definitely one of the challenges of managing property, but if you do it smartly and maximize your return, you’ll find you have less bad tenants to deal with and a higher income in the long run.

Tell us about the time when you had to draw the line for one of your bad tenants and how you handled the situation!

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