If your tenants are driving you crazy, you might be tempted to cut your losses and kick them to the curb. While trying to give them the boot might feel satisfying, kicking tenants out if they haven't done anything to break their lease might lead to lengthy and costly legal processes and can engender a lot of bad will. Here are four ways to deal with tenants driving you up the wall without losing your sanity.

1. Find ways to resolve disputes
Always start by having a conversation with your tenants when you have an issue with them. Ask them to meet you (preferably at a neutral location) to discuss whatever problems you're having as well as offer potential solutions. For instance, if the issue is that your tenants are too needy and have been making too many maintenance requests, you might be able to set parameters for which problems are worth calling you for, and which ones should be handled on their own. Oftentimes tenants will be happy to meet you halfway when it comes to minor problems, and if they're willing to compromise, you might be able to make things work. For more serious issues, such as failing to pay rent, starting with a conversation gives the tenant an opportunity to rectify the situation themselves.

2. Put your requests in writing
Chronic tenant problems can be a major pain point for landlords. When dealing with ongoing issues with a tenant, document each incident in writing wherever possible. For example, while you might ask your tenant to stop playing music late at night in person, following up your request with an email creates a paper trail to confirm that both parties are on the same page. Having adequate documentation that your tenants have stopped paying rent, broken their lease agreement in some way, or refused to comply with your requests can also be an important piece of evidence to include if you need to take legal action against your tenants.

3. Offer "cash for keys"
A tried-and-true option for landlords who want to get rid of tenants quickly is the "cash for keys" method. Simply put, offer your tenants a cash incentive to get them out the door. Chances are, the cost of simply paying a bad tenant to leave will be cheaper than dealing with eviction—your tenants might just want you to cover their moving expenses. This is a good solution if you don't want to resolve issues with your existing clients, such as if you own a rent-controlled building and you want to get it back on the market or if you're looking to move back into the building or unit yourself.

4. Consider legal recourse
In many cases, stubborn tenants lead landlords to resort to legal recourse. While this is generally the most costly and time-consuming way to get rid of tenants, it's also the most effective. Let your tenants know you're preparing to take legal action against them. Sometimes the idea of dealing with the headache and expense of legal fees and court dates associated with eviction is all the convincing they need to move out.

Honesty is always the best policy when it comes to dealing with tenants, even those with whom you aren't on the best of terms. Whether you're willing to work through tenant problems or want to cut ties entirely, staying courteous and professional throughout the entire process is your best bet. Explain your situation and try to be sympathetic to your tenants' circumstances as well. It can make a significant difference when it comes to getting the outcome you want, so put your best foot forward and brush up on your eviction rights and limitations as a landlord.

POSTED July 17 2015 10:52 AM

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