Tenants from Hell: 5 Tips for Handling Them
Being a landlord can be a lucrative and enjoyable business – one that allows you to earn money and interact with all sorts of different people. Unfortunately, not every tenant is a good tenant, and even if you do your best to screen people prior to moving in, it’s inevitable that you’ll get stuck with that long-spoke of “tenant from hell” at some point in your time as a landlord.
While you can’t just kick tenants from hell out straight away, there are some things you can do to make the process easier on yourself, and above all, legal. After all, the whole point in ridding yourself of the bad tenants is to make way for good tenants, deserving of the space and unlikely to cause you as many problems.
Tenants that don’t pay rent on time for months in a row or cause you all sorts of other headaches shouldn’t be treated like children. If a tenant is late for a rent payment one month out of twelve, you can be lenient. When it happens over and over again, causing them to fall behind on all their rent, stop cutting them breaks.
They may have financial hardships, and while it’s okay to be sympathetic, at the end of the day, you’re running a business. If they can’t get their payments in on time, you need to let them know what the next step could be, and in some cases, that’s enough to make a tenant straighten up and fly right.
Not charging your tenants late fees, cleaning fees, or any other fees related to their problem behaviour makes you look weak. When that happens, bad tenants tend to push the boundaries as far as they can, assuming their behaviour is okay and you won’t do anything about it.
Charge the appropriate fees and don’t let them go. The only time it is okay to cut a tenant a break is if they make a mistake and have a good track record.
If you have problem with tenants that don’t pay rent, trash your place, or just make noise, offering them a deal to vacate can sometimes be a good idea. For example, if a tenant can’t pay rent, allowing them until the end of the month to move out rent free might be in your best interest since you’ll soon have the unit back to rent to a better tenant.
Just make sure you monitor their progress about moving out – otherwise they could be ripping you off and just trying to stay for free.
When it’s time to evict a tenant for non-payment, it’s essential that you follow all of the rules in your area. Unless you’ve been a landlord for many years who’s truly up on the law, doing something wrong on the paperwork is easy and will translate to the law actually being on the tenant’s side.
When an error occurs on the paperwork, that can mean your tenant gets to stay in the apartment for a considerable amount of extra time. Get a solicitor who knows the laws in your area to draft a legal eviction notice ASAP.
Once you get an eviction notice, that still leaves your missing back rent.
It may be worth raising a small claim against them but only if they're working. If they're housing benefit tenants, you're probably best chalking it up as experience and moving on. Move on, and do what you can in the future to keep bad tenants out!
Unfortunately, you can’t guarantee that every tenant is going to be a good one. Vetting your tenants thoroughly is the best way to manage against tenants from hell and stop things going bad in the first place.
Naomi Shaw is a freelance writer. She is passionate about property and enjoys covering the many different facets through her writing.