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You become a landlord with high standards for your property, your tenants, and your own behavior. You’re a professional with a signed, legal agreement, but things can get uncivilized quickly with troublesome renters. The arrangement just doesn’t work without respect on both sides of the equation. Stay on the high road by learning how to deal with terrible tenants while holding on to your dignity.
Screen Prospective Tenants
True, this advice is probably too late for you, but we have to say it anyway: Your best defense is preparing for the worst. Head off problems by listening to your instincts. Screen rental candidates vigorously. Protect yourself with a rental dwelling policy and require renter’s insurance in the lease. And once the unit is occupied, give them the benefit of the doubt—but pay attention to warning signs.
It’s hard not to get personal; you’re human. But keep a little distance as you set a professional tone. Be specific about how you respond to day-to-day issues and make sure you answer all their questions at the outset. It helps if you can each understand the other’s point of view, and there are always special circumstances. Many problems are just the result of miscommunication. But rules are rules, and you need to establish them firmly.
Defer To the Lease
The odds are that any issue is covered in the lease, as well as the repercussions for infractions. Make sure that you are prepared to enforce the terms of the lease before you sign, or else you should change the language to something you can. From the beginning, point to the lease, rather than setting a precedent for leniency.
You want to keep your tenant happy, and even the smallest courteous gestures can go a long way. But occasionally going above and beyond as a landlord can turn into unreasonable expectations for the wrong tenant. If it seems as though complaints, calls, and requests are on the rise, remind them that some responsibilities are their own.
Before anyone moves in, take detailed photos of the condition of your property for later comparison. Recurring tenant problems aren’t obvious right away, so keep track of even minor incidents in case you need details later. Make note of all maintenance on the unit.
Hire a Property Manager
No one enjoys being tough on tenants who don’t hold up their end of the deal. If the prospect is causing you real dread, give yourself a break and rely on a property manager. If you can’t imagine yourself following through with the eviction process, you’ll need backup.
When a tenant disregards the lease, the situation can devolve into something ugly. Keep calm, because giving in to emotion will drag you down to their level. Have a plan in place for how to deal with terrible tenants. How many warnings do they get? Which infractions are deal breakers? Decide now, not when you find yourself in the middle of a nightmare.