Owning a rental property can be a big step toward passive income and financial independence. However, the wrong renter can throw a wrench into your plans. Learn how to deal with a nightmare tenant in a professional way, so you don’t lose too much money, time, or sanity.
The most important document is the rental lease. Spell out everything you can, including any penalties. You should also describe policies for the security deposit. Photograph the condition of everything on your property before renters move in, and be diligent in taking pictures of damage when it happens. Keep notes on your communication with tenants and establish good-faith efforts to resolve things peacefully. Just remember that they’re likely documenting everything, too.
Don’t Just Let It Go
Being flexible and understanding can make you a great landlord. It can also be a slippery slope, setting precedents for leniency that tenants can quickly exploit. The first time you learn that the lease has been violated, address it directly. Make sure that they know they’re in the wrong and listen to their explanation. Describe the consequences if it happens again. You can be both sympathetic and firm. It doesn’t make you the bad guy if you expect your tenant to live up to their end of a signed agreement.
Don’t Fear Eviction
Is it a last resort? Yes. Do all you can within reason to work out any problems with a tenant. Compromises have their place, especially if they’re just temporary. But if you’ve done your best to keep an open mind and be fair, you’re not obligated to put up with bad behavior indefinitely. Call your lawyer and start the eviction process. It may take a while, so don’t prolong the unpleasantness. There are laws that protect both you and the tenant, and there’s no shame in using them.
Keep Your Sense of Humor
A large part of learning how to deal with a nightmare tenant is controlling your reaction to the situation. Even in the worst-case scenario, getting angry clouds your judgment and makes you part of the problem. Don’t give them ammunition for a complaint. Use the situation as a cautionary tale of what not to look for when you’re screening your next tenants. Every landlord has a horror story. Congratulations—now you’ve got yours.