3 Tips for Managing a Problem Tenant

Last Updated: January 15, 2016By

tips_for_project_managementWhile the majority of residents are perfectly agreeable, pay their rent on time, and don’t make much of a fuss, over the course of your property management career, you will inevitably run into a problem tenant. From a resident who continuously abuses community spaces to the resident that never pays his or her rent on time, a problem tenant can make you dread going to work in the morning. Try implementing the following into your strategy and handling difficult residents will be easier than ever.

How to Manage a Problem Tenant

Tip 1: Don’t Kick or Scream, Screen!
The first step for handling problem renters starts by eliminating the problem before it can begin. In short, before you rent out any property, make sure that you conduct a proper screening. The best tenant screening will include the following elements:

  • Running a thorough background check
  • Running a credit check
  • Checking references
  • Calling previous landlords
  • Verifying job status and current income levels

With this checklist in place, you will be able to narrow down your list of potential tenants to the individuals who are the best fit to live in the property. Bonus tip: Tenant screening software is a major benefit to any property management company, as it cuts down on time and staff needed to conduct the screenings.

Tip 2: Create a Thorough and Comprehensible Written Policy
In defense of the tenant, it is a little hard to follow the rules when you don’t know what they are. To rectify this situation, make sure your leasing documents clearly outline the property’s written policy. This list can also include a list of “dos and don’ts,” which will provide helpful guidelines if a tenant starts to break the rules.

Your written policy should have a special section for rent payments. All too often, tenants will switch from being the “ideal tenant” to “a total nightmare” over rent payments. Make sure that your residents know when rent is due, how it can be paid (if you offer online rent collection options), and what the consequences are if they a) are late with a payment or b) miss a payment altogether. If you present your residents with professional, legal documents then they are more likely to treat you with the professionalism that you deserve. Creating and maintaining a professional environment is paramount to successfully managing your renters and properties.

Tip 3: Stick to Your Rules
When you start to waver from your written guidelines, so too will your tenants. For example, if you waive a late fee, then you are telling the tenant that there isn’t a penalty for paying rent, which means that they will be more likely to pay whenever they feel like it. When it comes to property management best practices, rules are meant to be established and followed. A rule abiding property manager won’t let tenants take advantage of a situation, and in return, tenants will appreciate the honesty and consistency that this type of property manager provides.

Handling issues with problem tenants starts by protecting yourself from the beginning to the end of the lease. Make sure that your renters know and agree to the property rules. Enforce these rules so that you are respected and treated fairly by your tenants. Finally, if a tenant is breaking the rules, then make sure that you communicate effectively, professionally, and honestly about the future consequences. By establishing a professional environment from day one, renters are more likely to follow the established rules, rather than becoming rule-breaking problem tenants.

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AppFolio, Inc. develops Property Management Software that helps businesses improve their workflow so they save time and make more money.  Appfolio submits articles & blogs including topics of Resident Retention, Improved Owner Communication, Time Management, and more.


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