How to Deal with Bad Tenants


Landlords are plagued by tenant problems every day. However, lowering the rental price to keep the good ones and evicting the bad ones may not be the best solution.

Not only will lower rents affect your rental income, but evictions can also be frustrating and time-consuming. Additionally, you’ll also have turnover costs associated with looking for a new tenant.

That said, carrying out an eviction can sometimes become necessary. So, whether you are just starting out or have been a landlord for years, knowing how the eviction process works is an absolute must.

But rather than immediately issuing an eviction notice if a tenant violates their lease, it may be best to first try other options. The following are 5 tips on how to deal with difficult tenants.

How to Deal with Bad Tenants

1. Make your expectations clear.

Yes, a strong landlord-tenant relationship is key to the success of your rental business. However, don’t take it too far. You might find yourself being taken advantage of.

What you want to do is set your expectations from the get-go. It is wise to spell out all tenant and landlord responsibilities and obligations in the lease/rental agreement. Let them know about:

  • Details regarding late rent. The first thing you should probably ask yourself is – will I enforce a penalty if my tenants can’t pay rent on time? If you will, then let them know when it’ll be considered late and how much the late rent fee will be.
  • Landlord’s right of entry. First and foremost, quiet enjoyment of the unit is a tenant’s right. You cannot barge in as you like. That said, as a landlord, you have a right to enter the property under certain circumstances so long as you serve proper notice.
  • Responsibility for garbage removal. Without proper rental rules in place, garbage removal can become a source of conflict between you and your tenant. So explain to your tenant the rules and regulations when garbage is to be removed. Also, mention any rules regarding compositing or recycling.
  • Rental pet policy. Is your rental property pet-friendly? If so, as a savvy landlord, you need to have a comprehensive pet policy. On the policy, remember to mention things like the number, size, and type of pet allowed.
  • Responsibility for outside upkeep and landscaping. This is a significant matter when it comes to residential neighborhoods. Clearly explain whose duty it is to do things like pick up trash, trim the shrubs and cut the grass. The last thing you want is a disgruntled neighbor.

2. Keep written records of everything.

This is probably the best way to avoid conflicts with your tenant.

When doing property inspections, remember to record any issues you encounter. Take good quality pictures and videos that feature a timestamp whenever possible. This way, it’ll become almost impossible for your tenant to dispute their wrongdoing.

Sure, this will increase your workload a bit. But, it’ll also decrease the chances of a bad tenant trying to dispute with you. For example, security deposit deductions.

3. Be calm, objective, rational and professional.

When renters cause problems, it’s easy (and understandable) to get angry. Yet, hotheadedness will only make the situation much worse.

Even if their actions are distressing, try to keep a cool head and remain professional at all times. Make your communication with them clear, firm and polite. Also, let them know which terms of your lease they have violated to give them a chance to mend it.


4. Consider hiring a property manager.

The work of a landlord is never easy. It involves much more than just collecting rent each month. And while you are a business owner, there are ethical, legal, and moral considerations you’ll face all the time.

That’s why it pays to know whether or not you are a good fit for the job description beforehand. Here are some questions that can help you make that decision.

  • How will I collect rent payments?
  • What will I charge for rent?
  • How will I screen prospective tenants?
  • What terms will go into the lease or rental agreement?
  • Do I know my state’s landlord-tenant laws?

If you had a difficult time answering these questions, then it may be in your best interest to hire a property manager. Yes, that may mean a bit less profits at the end of the month. But, just imagine the stress you’d eliminate and the free time you’d gain by doing this! You’d no longer have to deal with bad tenants as the job gets passed to the property manager.

5. Evict the problem tenant.

When all else has failed, the final solution may be to evict the renter from your rental property. Now, evicting a renter can be a costly, frustrating and lengthy process. If it is not conducted properly, you can face serious legal repercussions.

Generally speaking, there are legitimate reasons to evict a tenant.

  • Expiration of the lease. Every good thing must finally come to an end. But sometimes, you might end up dealing with a tenant that refuses to move out. In this case, sending out a lease expiration notice is always a good idea.
  • Illegal or drug-related activity. There is very little grace granted to drug-dealers. In most states, a landlord can terminate their lease in as little as 24 hours. All you have to do is send out a notice of lease violation.
  • Excessive property damage. You can also evict a renter who causes negligent or careless property damage.
  • For lease violations. Examples include keeping unauthorized pets and unapproved occupants. In cases like this, you must also send out a lease violation letter.
  • Non-payment of rent. This is arguably the most common reason for lease termination and eviction. Dealing with tenants not paying rent is unfortunately common for landlords.

So, to evict a tenant, you must have a legitimate reason. You can’t evict a tenant just because you don’t get along with them.


Dealing with bad tenants is the worst part of being a landlord. But, it’s bound to happen at some point during your career as a landlord. The key is knowing how to deal with the situation the proper way. Hopefully, these tips on dealing with difficult tenants are insightful in this regard.

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