Even the best landlords will have problems with their tenants from time to time. All of the screening in the world can’t prevent certain tenants from failing to pay rent on time or blatantly ignoring the lease. What you do when these issues occur will dictate how the rest of their time is spent and how other tenants view you as an owner. Essentially, there are two ways in which you can handle a bad tenant situation. The first course of action is to approach the situation with a bad temper and increase the possibility of litigation. The second involves a bit of patients. Step back and evaluate the situation, as there is usually a way for both parties to be happy.
The best investors and landlords know to expect complications, regardless of their experience. You may have spent weeks going through the screening process and double checked your tenant references, but this doesn’t completely mitigate the potential for risks. These sort of things happen in this industry. When they do, you must take a deep breath and think about your options. Things may seem really bad, and they may be, but don’t make them worse. If you approach the situation like a madman, what are you really accomplishing?
Once you are made aware of the problem, try talking to the tenant and see what they need. In most cases, it is better to work things out with your tenant instead of overreacting and threatening them with eviction and possible legal action. If their cause for a late or missed payment is legitimate, try to work things out and go from there. What you don’t want is for the late payment to become a habit. As bad as your situation seems now, it can always be worse.
After you take a step back to evaluate the situation, you need to act on whatever your plan may be. The longer you wait, the more your tenant thinks they can walk all over you. You need to talk to them in a firm, direct voice without yelling and lay out your expectations. Never threaten things that you don’t intend to do. Whatever the action is, make sure you are willing to back it up. If not, other tenants in your building will see what they can potentially get away with.
Going over to the property and warning your tenant is a good start, but doing it once is not enough. You need to follow up every day or every other day until the issue is resolved. Calmly tell your tenants you will not let the situation blow over and forget about it. Ask for dates on their end and hold them to it. If it gets to a point where you think you are being taken advantage of, set a firm date to get resolution. If it doesn’t happen, take the next step and start legal action. This, however, should be viewed as a last resort.
Dealing with difficult tenants is the worst part of being a landlord, but it is part of the business and needs to be accounted for. There will always be bumps in the road, but you can make them smoother by how you react.