How to deal with difficult tenants

In most cases, tenants are easy to deal with as they are just there to get on with their lives but, unfortunately, there will be the odd tenant who is a bit difficult and stressful for you to handle. 

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Potential problems with tenants

In most cases, tenants are easy to deal with as they are just there to get on with their lives and are sensible and responsible to your property. But unfortunately, there will be the odd tenant who is a bit difficult and stressful for you to handle. 

There are five common issues where tenants are being difficult, which are:

  • Tenants unable to pay rent
  • The tenant is disturbing the neighbours 
  • The tenant is engaging in illegal activities 
  • Tenant damaging the property 

Tenants unable to pay rent

If the tenant is usually on time with payments, there may be a reasonable explanation for why they cannot pay. It is best to have a simple conversation with them to understand why they cannot and see if there is a solution to the problem.  

If you cannot come up with a solution or the tenant is regularly unable to pay, you may have to start the eviction process, which has a strict procedure. 

The tenant is disturbing the neighbours. 

Neighbours disturbing each other often comes down to a noise complaint, whether pets, music, TV or power tools. The easiest way to get around these problems is to include a clause in the lease of quiet hours to reduce excessive noise. Quiet hours are generally between 11 pm to 7 am. 

Having quiet hours means that when there are breaches of the policy, you can talk to the tenant and show them where they are breaching the agreement. Then if there are multiple breaches, you can go on to evict the tenant. 

The tenant is engaging in illegal activities.

Rarely this will happen, but there may be a report of illegal activities on the property, whether the selling of or the use of, illegal substances, prostitution or the production of counterfeit products or substances. The best thing is to contact the tenant and talk to them (if you believe it is safe). Let them know that if they don’t stop the illegal activities immediately, they will be evicted. 

You can inform the neighbours that you have spoken to the tenant and warned them about the consequences. You can also tell the neighbours to call the police if necessary. 

Some signs of illegal activities to watch out for:

  • The smell of cannabis or other illegal paraphernalia
  • If housemates report illegal activities
  • Antisocial behaviour – paranoid, aggressive and unpleasant behaviour
  • Tenant reluctant to grant access for a property inspection or maintenance visits

You must; keep a written paper trail of all these reports just in case the criminal activity develops. You can then prove you have tried to resolve the issues which prevent you from being prosecuted yourself.

The tenant has damaged the property. 

There will be some minor wear and tear to the property, but sometimes it can be worse and is the destruction of the property. You should have boundaries and policies in place to prevent this from happening. Often avoiding having pets on the property can prevent any further destruction.

Your tenants should ask you if they are allowed to make any home improvements to the property, whether this is hanging pictures, painting, or wallpapering rooms. You should carry out regular inspections so if there is any damage or destruction to the property: you can then act immediately. 

How to prevent these problems with tenants

There are a few key things you can do to prevent problems with tenants in the future. Being prepared and putting in place systems and agreements will make dealing with any issues easy. 

Here are a couple of things you can do to avoid problems:

  • Run a background check on the potential tenant
  • Check they have a right to rent 
  • Keep an up-to-date property content list 
  • Check that the tenancy agreement is up to date

You mustn’t:

  • Force entry to the property or to enter the property without a prior agreement with at least 24-hour’s notice
  • Harass the tenant as this is a criminal offence
  • Physically throw them out or physically assault them; instead, you should follow the eviction process 

How should I deal with the problem tenants?

If your tenants become a problem, make sure you have clear communication and a paper trail. Just remember, somebody else has gone through this, so you will be able to seek advice from other people.

You must keep a record of your conversations as this will keep a trail of what and when they have done something. If any legal procedures occur, you have a trail of evidence to cover you and hopefully resolve any issues.

The best thing to do is have clear communication with your tenant, as there may be simple solutions to the problems caused. 

If nothing works, then you can proceed to evict your tenant.

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