Although the vast majority of tenants treat rental properties with respect, you may occasionally find yourself handling bad tenants. The most obvious example of a bad tenant is one that does not pay their rent. However, other signifiers include not allowing the letting agent or landlord access to the property, damaging the rental home or contents and upsetting the neighbours.
All of these circumstances are stressful for letting agents and landlords, so you may be looking for tips on dealing with bad tenants. Here are some mechanisms that will hopefully keep the relationship harmonious and happy.
Avoid Bad Tenants in the First Place
This isn’t much comfort if you are currently handling bad tenants, but there are steps you can take to avoid them in the future. There is such a thing as ‘professional bad tenants’ who hop from rental property to rental property, leaving behind arrears at every location.
The first step to avoiding bad tenants is to not take the first offer straight away. If a property has been vacant for a while, it is costing the landlord money, but you still need to take your time to ensure anyone looking to rent it is on the level. If you fail to perform all the necessary checks, you could welcome an undesirable tenant into the property and it may cost a lot more in the long run once they have wreaked havoc.
In fact, you should fully background check all potential renters. This includes employment checks, credit checks, and references and details from previous rentals. You can never be too cautious. Similarly, you should be wary of any renter who asks to pay their deposit in instalments or who offers to pay for long stretches of tenancy in advance by cash. This could be innocent, but it may also be a red flag that they are up to no good in the property and don’t want to be bothered or that they are attempting to mask a poor rental history.
Be Prepared to Negotiate
Not all tenants who cause problems for letting agents and landlords do so on purpose. Sometimes they cannot pay their rent for completely genuine and unfortunate reasons. In this case, handling bad tenants should be undertaken with care. Negotiation and compromise can help turn the situation around without having to resort to lengthy and costly legal proceedings.
Allowing a tenant to pay weekly rather than monthly might help them meet the rent more easily. Similarly, letting them use part of the security deposit to make up the shortfall could be enough to get them back on track. Demanding they pay in full each time or face additional fines might mean they quickly begin a downward spiral.
Talk to the problem tenants about how you can help them pay what they owe. If they feel you are open to listening, sympathetic and willing to be flexible, the stronger the relationship and the more likely they are to try as hard as they can to get level.
If you do want to add late payment fees, you might want to consider spreading them over the course of the rest of the tenancy so as not to heap any further financial pressure on the tenant.
Another option when handling bad tenants who cannot afford the rent is to allow them to change their living arrangements. They could take in a lodger or even transfer to another, smaller and less expensive property, if you have that option available.
Although some instances of mould are entirely the responsibility of the landlord and their maintenance regime, sometimes tenants cause the growth of the fungus through undertaking activities without allowing the correct ventilation. This could be cooking without using lids on boiling pans, not using extractor fans in the kitchen or bathroom, not closing internal doors when cooking and not heating the property properly.
Many of these hazards are merely caused by ignorance, rather than malice. If this is the case, a gentle pointer in the right direction would be a better way of handling the situation than a stern official warning. Giving them the tools to rectify the situation prevents a breakdown in the relationship. You could also install an outdoor washing line, fit more extractor fans and make sure windows can be easily opened to create ventilation in order to help make mould prevention easier.
Get Everything in Writing
Unfortunately, handling bad tenants does not always have a happy ending. To protect yourself and your business, you need to record and keep safe every detail of the issues you face. Any agreements need to be spelled out in full and any correspondence between you and the problem tenant should be stored as possible evidence if needed in the future.
When inspecting properties, take photos and videos with a time stamp so you have as solid a case as possible if the problem escalates into a legal battle.
Handling Bad Tenants - Help from the Start
Executive Property Management Solutions can take care of many of the aspects of lettings that lead to problems from bad tenants. Outsource your property management to us and we screen the prospective renters, chase up late rent, keep your properties maintained to a high standard and much more. See the Make Lettings Easier page for more information and contact us today to talk about how we can make your life easier.