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Tips for Dealing with Challenging Tenants

At some point, most landlords or property managers will have to face the task of dealing with difficult tenants – those who continually pay late, cause deliberate damage or complain about every little thing. While thorough screening can help prevent you from taking on troublesome tenants, this is not always a guarantee.

Below are some types of tenant-related issues that often crop up, as well as a few tips on how to deal with them.

Tenants who Cause Deliberate Damage

Because tenants don’t own a property, many of them are likely to treat it quite carelessly – some will either cause deliberate damage, while others will make so-called improvements that weren’t authorized. As a landlord or property manager, steps can be taken to keep these types of tenants to a minimum:

  • Provide a detailed lease agreement that clearly stipulates what may and may not be done in and around the property
  • Perform a full inspection before a tenant moves in and take detailed photos. This will help provide proof of damages when a problem tenant vacates – and allow you to deduct the repair costs from their security deposit
  • Do quarterly visual inspections – this will allow you to spot issues before they become too serious to rectify

Habitual Late Payers

These are among the most common types of problem tenants to deal with, but steps can be taken to reduce the possibility of it occurring:

  • Your lease must stipulate rent payment procedures and consequences that will arise due to late payment
  • All tenants must adhere to the same set of rules, and this must be stipulated at the time they move into your property
  • Make rent as easy as possible to pay by allowing online transactions
  • If you have a grace period in your lease, consider sending automated reminders to tenants so that they cannot say they forgot to pay the rent

Incessant Complainers

These tenants usually expect landlords or property managers to be at their beck and call 24/7 and will complain abut the least little thing. These steps can be taken to keep them in check:

  • Be aware of your legal obligations – some repairs will have to be made to render a property safe and livable. However, this doesn’t mean that you must entertain every single demand from a tenant
  • Know your lease agreement – be aware of which repairs are for your account and which ones a tenant will have to pay for


Some tenants will think nothing of sub-letting part – or even all – of a property in an effort to make a quick buck. This practice should never be allowed under any circumstances, as it results in a lot more hassles than it’s worth. If a tenant wants to have a guest stay over for more than a few days, this should also be cleared with a landlord or property manager beforehand.

Clearly stipulating your terms and conditions for renting your property will help ensure that tenants know what their limits are and what will be expected of them for the duration of their lease period. Always ensure that you are polite, but firm whenever addressing any form of dispute.

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