Dealing with troublesome tenants

If you have not had a nightmare tenant yet, consider yourself lucky.

These tenants miss payments, sneak in pets despite the terms of the lease, and generally break key agreements you established with them.

When a tenant breaks the terms of the lease, ideally you will have clear and legally enforceable expectations for what happens next.

That could include warnings, penalties, and even eviction if the issues are serious enough.

However, what do you do when you have troublesome tenants who are making your life difficult, but who always stop just short of breaking the lease?

Try these tips and tricks to improve the situation.


Clarify Expectations
The first thing you should do is reach out to tenants and re-establish expectations.

Have a tenant who is consistently sending their payment a few days late?

They might just assume that you do not care about timely payments because a previous landlord did not mind getting their checks until the middle of the month.

A quick phone call or e-mail could nip that problem in the bud.


If you enter the property to make a repair and notice that the sink is piled with dirty dishes, you may justifiably want to get your tenants to clean up their act.

Think of it from the perspective of the tenants before you reach out.

You might have a group of recent college graduates who do not realize that they are inviting pests into the home by leaving their dishes out.

While it should not be your job to teach basics like home maintenance to an adult, it might be worth your time to have an informal conversation with the tenants.

When you follow up with them about the repair, say that you noticed that the dishes were piled awfully high, and warn them that pests will start to show up if they do not keep the home clean and tidy.


Communication can resolve many small issues, from maintenance to getting tenants to allow you to show the home, before they become major ones.


Review the Lease
If the tenant is not responding to informal outreach, it is time to go back to the lease.

Make sure you are not missing any clauses that you could use as leverage.

Look for general clauses that can potentially cover multiple issues.

Grounding a discussion with your tenants in the lease will let them know you are serious about resolving the issues.


Behave Yourself
When you are in a conflict with a tenant, it can be difficult to maintain professionalism at all times, but it is even more important than ever.

Make sure you are always meeting your obligations, regardless of what your tenant is doing.

Even if you are angry that the rent is late (again) do not hold off on repairs to get back at the troublesome tenant.

If you are always in full compliance with the lease, you will have an easier time if the relationship continues to go south and you have to involve lawyers.


Ask Them to Move
Just because the lease is not up yet, does not mean the tenant has to stay if you want them out.

Reach out and say that you would prefer to amicably break the lease so that the tenants can leave early.

They are under no obligation to do so, so you may have to offer an incentive.

Parting with a few hundred dollars in moving costs might be worth the hassle.


While you may just have to wait them out, with these tips you have a chance to get your troublesome tenants to straighten up.

Posted on Jul 17, 2015

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