Every landlord has a few experiences with difficult tenants.
Not all the renters you accept will turn out to be perfect tenants. Whether disruptive to their neighbors, uncleanly, consistently late on rent, or just abrasive in personality, difficult tenants are inevitable.
Unfortunately, you can’t evict a tenant for being annoying or difficult. You need concrete strategies for approaching poor tenant behavior and precautions for avoiding uncomfortable situations.
The best practice you can adopt is to teach tenants how to treat you from day one. You should consistently enforce all your policies and never tolerate unacceptable habits.
Here are five tips for dealing with difficult tenants.
Conduct Routine Inspections
Routine inspections are a worthwhile and necessary habit. Thorough inspections help you notice hazards, violations, and maintenance concerns, and keep tabs on the condition of your properties.
Inspections also give you an opportunity to address tenants who aren’t keeping up with the property. You should not ignore general uncleanliness, spills, stains, fire hazards, or pet damage.
Address these problems transparently before they turn into bigger maintenance headaches down the line. Tenants who have acquired negligent habits are less likely to change them than those who know you enforce good care from the start.
If a tenant’s violations warrant a penalty or fee as per your lease agreement, you can apply these on your rental property management software. For example, you can assign a $60 cleaning fee for negligence directly to a tenant’s next rent bill.
Use Late Fee Infrastructure and Automated Reminders
If you have a difficult tenant, it’s even more important to hold them accountable. This means enforcing your late fee policy.
With property management software, you can customize a late fee infrastructure, including the amount or percentage of the fee and the length of your grace period, if desired.
Your software will automatically incur a late fee to any tenant’s account who hasn’t submitted an online rent payment by the due date. This way, you can avoid being the “bad guy” to your tenants while still enforcing lease terms.
You can also set up automated rent reminders. Reminders are courtesies to your tenants and help you distinguish between a simple one-off mistake and a pattern of problematic behavior. By automating reminders, you can stay hands-off while demonstrating to difficult tenants that deadlines and late fees are not optional.
Keep Written (Digital) Records of Everything
Keeping good records as a landlord should be a priority for several reasons. One of these is to protect you from potential legal liability.
For example, if a tenant makes false claims, excuses, or denies their poor behavior, you need tangible proof that what they’re saying is false. Otherwise, it could be hard to prove your side in a disagreement should you end up in court.
Start by forming good bookkeeping habits. Keep track of payments, fees, maintenance requests, and communications on your property management software, which automatically generates records of all financial transactions between you and your tenants. You should also track your expenses, keep all receipts, and record poor behavior with dates, if necessary.
Be Objective, Fair, and Reasonable
A content tenant can quickly turn bitter in an unfair situation. Don’t give your tenants a reason to resent you. This means enforcing your policies equally across all tenants, providing reasonable accommodations, and granting as many simple requests as is feasible.
If an argument does occur, consider all sides and perspectives before responding. Don’t let your anger or frustration show, or your tenants will perceive you as unprofessional and lose respect for you, leading to even more difficult situations.
Respond to Negative Feedback Professionally
Finally, know what to do when an angry tenant leaves a negative or nasty review online.
As tempting as it may be, do not ignore rude or obnoxious feedback. Instead, craft a brief response to reply to the original post. Your response should thank the tenant for their feedback, apologize for their bad experience, and indicate the next steps toward a solution.
After you’ve written a professional, polite response, contact the tenant privately and give them the opportunity to air their grievances fully. By encouraging honesty, transparency, and professionalism, you can resolve a tense situation with grace.
Resolving Conflict in Rental Management
It’s not impossible to resolve conflicts with difficult tenants. Regular inspections, property management software features, and professionalism online and in person are your best strategies for navigating disagreements and resolving them effectively in your rental business.