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The Secrets of Dealing with Difficult Tenants

Monday, 30th January 2012 | by: Peter Barry

If you’ve been a landlord for a while, chances are you’ve come across difficult tenants in the past. You will no doubt have learnt from your mistakes but there’s no real way of knowing how someone is going to treat your property, or deal with rental payments, until they have actually moved in. A prospective tenant might look great on paper but they could prove to be a nightmare once they have the keys in their hand. So, just how do you go about dealing with difficult tenants?

Choose your tenants carefully

If your prospective tenants don’t have references, or start making demands before the contract is signed then alarm bells should ring. If you do thorough checks in the first instance, you should be able to screen your tenants fairly well. Obviously, there are no guarantees that someone with a great credit rating will make a great tenant but it will certainly help.

Keep calm and stay focused

Never lose your temper in front of your tenants. If problems arise, try and deal with them rationally and calmly. Don’t give your tenants any reason to discredit you or your professionalism, or justify late or non-payment of rent. If you remain civil and approachable, you are more likely to get the result you want. Confrontation or threats will simply give tenants an excuse for withholding rent or treating the property disrespectfully.

Don’t be a stranger

If you’re having problems with your tenants, the temptation is to keep your distance and let them get on with it. However, the reverse is actually true: if you make a point of visiting the property for regular inspections, you can keep on top of problems as and when they arise. It’s easier to delay or avoid rent if you have no face-to-face contact, so arrange visits and try talking to your tenants about finance problems, or any issues relating to the property. Remember, if you do intend to visit the property, you need to give your tenants notice – as per the terms of your rental agreement.

Terminate the contract

If your tenants make a habit of paying their rent late, or miss payments altogether, and you have exhausted all avenues of negotiation, then you are best advised to give them notice of the termination of the rental agreement. The situation is unlikely to improve and you might be better off finding new tenants for the property. You can waste a lot of time and effort chasing up payments, following up complaints from neighbours and resolving issues. Remember, this is your business and any losses will ultimately come out of your pocket.