Tips for Dealing With Difficult Renters

Last Updated: July 6, 2018By

By Elizabeth Millar of AppFolio, Inc.

A great tenant is gold. You know that they’ll respect your property, keep you informed as ears on the ground, and most importantly, pay rent…on time! As great as it would be to have all renters be just like this, it doesn’t always happen. Have you ever signed a new tenant thinking everything is going to be great, but shortly after you hand over the keys you realize that it’s not going to be sunshine and rainbows?

Common Traits of Difficult Renters

While you do your best to attract high-quality renters, unfortunately, difficult tenants are far too common and can bring along destructive behavior, poor communication, and questionable decision-making. Renters like these can be detrimental to your property’s reputation and profitability. However, there are ways to help mitigate and potentially avoid these types of repeat offenders.

Do these tenant profiles sound familiar to you?

  • In a constant state of delinquency
  • Owes rent and leaves in the middle of the night
  • Threatens frivolous lawsuits
  • Leaves a path of destruction

While it’s unfortunate that these situations are common, you can arm yourself to handle, or prevent, these sticky situations altogether.

Tips to Handle Difficult Renters

1. Delinquency

For renters that rack up high, unpaid balances, it’s important to avoid making special exceptions. Keep a consistent process and always follow the rules and regulations you’ve set in place. Sent notices and charge late fees with no exceptions. Communicate with the renter in writing for record-keeping purposes as it will serve you well if the situation goes to collections.

2. Owes Rent and Skips Out

When you’re dealing with a renter that left owing you money, it’s critical to know your state’s laws to property confirm abandonment. Follow your states rules on handling an abandoned property and re-taking possession. Gather evidence, document the process, and report him to the credit agencies to inhibit repeat offenses.

3. Frivolous Lawsuit Threats

It can be quite a headache when you have a renter who makes bogus claims and acts as a general nuisance in this regard. Don’t worry, as long as you know the ins and outs of your lease agreement, you are fine. Be familiar with Fair Housing Laws and the Fair Credit Reporting Act as well. Document everything in writing and establish legally appropriate policies and procedures in case the situation does escalate. And don’t forget to keep your cool – a good attitude can go a long way. Stay positive and friendly when dealing with this type of renter, and hopefully they will cool down too.

4. Damaged Property

Every so often you have a perfectly good tenant, but maybe they aren’t the best in the kitchen. Kitchen fires are more common than you’d think with an estimated 1.24 million occurring every year according to the NFPA. The financial loss can be great, so protect your property by rolling out a lease requirement for proof of insurance. In the meantime, be sure to document the damages with photos and keep track of all invoices involved in repairing the unit.

It’s important to implement these protocols and preventative processes before a crisis occurs. Having the best tools and practices in place can help you avoid troublesome renters. And if one does slip through the front door, you’re prepared to handle the situation effectively and lessen the negative impact on your business.

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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