Tenants Gone Bad? How To Spot & Manage Problem Tenants

Two words that can strike fear into the heart of any landlord: Problem tenants. Sure, managing property maintenance and conducting tenant interviews can be annoying, but bad tenants? That’s a whole new level of frustration.

Problem tenants can make a landlord’s life a living hell – but only if you let them. Whether they’re refusing to pay rent on time, trashing your property, or blatantly ignoring your strict “no pets” rule, there are numerous ways they can cause issues.

That’s why we’re helping you reduce the risks associated with bad tenants by knowing what to look out for and helping you manage them if you encounter tenants that don’t do things your way. Read on to learn more.

How to spot a problem tenant

While conducting thorough tenant screening interviews is essential to filter out potential troublemakers, you truly have no idea how good a tenant will treat you or the property until they’re already living there.

So here are 4 key “problem tenant personas” to watch out for.

The wrecking balls

When a tenant causes extensive damage to your property not just once but on more than one occasion, you have a problem. Maybe they keep breaking windows, punching holes in walls, or letting their friends dance on tables and break them.

The reason behind the damage doesn’t matter. What matters is that you end this disrespect by ensuring you:

Explicitly state in the tenancy contract what will happen if there is damage

Take photos before the tenant moves in

Inspect the property now and then to address minor damages before they get worse

The excuse givers

“My manager didn’t pay me on time,” “I didn’t get your message”, “I thought I transferred it,” may all be acceptable excuses to pay the rent late or not at all – but not if your tenants are constantly dishing them out to avoid paying rent. That’s just a problem tenant trying to pull the wool over your eyes.

To ensure you receive rent on time and minimise late/no payments, make sure you:

  • Clearly define payment expectations
  • Ensure tenants know you don’t accept excuses
  • Send reminders to late-paying tenants
  • Consider a direct debit agreement

The lawbreakers

Some problem tenants are lawbreakers and have no issue using your property as their crime scene, whether harassing neighbours with noisy parties, committing violent crimes, or even selling drugs.

How do you manage lawbreaking tenants?

Do a comprehensive background check on any new tenants to make sure they’re not hiding a criminal past

Regularly visit the property to look for signs of lawbreaking

Report crimes as soon as you notice them to create a paper trail

The subletters

If you notice your tenants always seem to have visitors staying with them for long periods, they might secretly sublet the property. Those staying without your approval won’t have agreed to the same tenancy contract, opening up all kinds of opportunities for court cases down the line.

How to avoid this kind of problem tenant?

In your tenancy agreement, outline exactly what will happen if your tenant sublets the property without your permission

Allow them to have guests, but make it clear that any more extended visits must go through you beforehand

4 tips for dealing with problem tenants

Now let’s take a look at some of the best practices when managing troublesome tenants in general.

Don’t hurl abuse at them

Stay professional and cordial, so you don’t give problem tenants any ammunition to use against you in a court of law.

Give tenants warnings

Let your tenants know what may happen if they don’t follow the rules of the tenancy agreement and give them a chance to change their ways with formal written warnings.

Ask tenants to leave/evict them

If all comes to all and you’ve tried reasoning with your tenants, you’re within your rights to ask them to leave or evict them if they’ve broken their tenancy agreement.

Remember: Evicting should always be the last resort, as it’s an expensive, time-consuming, and stressful process.

Keep paper trails

Don’t lose out financially simply because you lost important documents like tenancy agreements, inventory, property certificates, or maintenance receipts. Put everything you do in writing to ward off potential issues.

Need help centralising important documents? Try Symple!

Symple is an online property certificate management platform built to make landlords’ lives easier.

Keep all your certificates in one place, manage tenant communications, and renew certificates on our easy-to-use system and avoid facing unnecessary tenancy lawsuits.

Just add your property information and the date of the last gas, energy performance, or electrical safety certificate, hit renew, and we’ll do the rest – it’s Symple!

Learn more about how Symple works and order your certificates online today.

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