Tips for handling disgruntled tenants

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Renting out your properties keeps money coming in to help you pay the mortgage and maintain the property, but renting also means that you have to deal with tenants. Occasionally you’ll encounter unhappy or disgruntled tenants — they might be angry for a variety of reasons, some of which you may not be able to control. So how do you handle it?

1. Pest Control Problems

Pests are one of the most common complaints that you’ll probably hear as a landlord. Pests usually fall into two categories: infestations that are the fault of the tenant and infestations that are not. The former is usually things like fleas (if the tenant has pets and the property has carpet) or roaches. The latter could be things like termites or carpenter ants — unless you pay to have pest control constantly monitor the property, they are difficult to prevent.

For these problems, the best course of action is to fall back on the lease that you and the tenant signed. Did you specify that the tenant is responsible for pest control for things like ants, roaches, and fleas?

Constant pest control is the best way to prevent these kinds of problems, especially if your property is in a hot or humid area that is bug friendly.

2. Home Damages

Home damages can be tricky, but in many cases the way they are addressed will be very straightforward. Damages caused by the tenant will be something that you can deduct from the security deposit.  Damages from other sources, like natural disasters, are usually covered by your homeowner’s insurance.

For tenant caused damages, if your tenants are unhappy — we’ll be saying this a lot — refer back to the lease. Even the most basic leases usually include a section about the security deposit and tenant responsibility for damages.

3. Rent Increases

This is the one thing that will probably generate the most arguments. Renting is already an expensive proposition, and no one likes to see their rent go up. First, be aware of your rights as a landlord — most states do not allow you to raise the rent before the lease is due to be renewed. There is also likely a limit to the amount that you can increase the rent each year.

To prevent disgruntled tenants, if you’re planning to increase the rent when the lease is renewed let your tenants know at least a couple of months in advance. This allows time to decide if they’re going to renew their lease and stay with you.  If they decide not to stay, this gives them plenty of time to find alternative accommodations before their lease expires.

It’s important to note that in most states, this isn’t the law — it’s just polite and a great way to prevent disgruntled tenants.

4. Late Rent

Tenants who pay their rent late are a problem, and if you’ve got a mortgage to pay with that rent money it can get you in trouble with the bank as well.

Late rent should be taken on a case by case basis.  Try talking to them first — we all hit hard times that make it difficult to pay big bills like rent, so if you’re able to work out a payment plan or something with your tenants to help them maintain their bills while still paying rent that is an option.

Tenants who are habitually late or simply refuse to pay rent, on the other hand, may require more direct intervention, up to and including eviction.

5. Bad Tenants

Whether your tenants are noisy and disturbing the neighbors, trashing the house, or doing illegal activities on the property, bad seeds will crop up.

Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot you can do with these tenants. You can try talking to them, but if they refuse to change their behavior, eviction may be the only option.

It’s important to remember that your tenants are people too. A lot of problems, even if they seem enormous, can often be resolved by simply having a conversation with your tenants. Make it a point to be available and easy to reach, and a lot of problems can be avoided.

6. Prevention

Even though finding the occasional bad tenant is nearly impossible to avoid, you can greatly reduce the risk through tenant screening. A comprehensive tenant background check and credit check can narrow your applicant pool to the highest quality candidates. Rentler’s tenant screening services show a detailed history of a tenant’s criminal record, bankruptcies, income, total debt, credit score, eviction history, and even calculates a custom rentability score to make the selection process a breeze. Best of all? The landlord decides who pays for screenings and completing a tenant screening can be a requirement to apply for a property if the landlord chooses. This both filters out non-serious applicants and gives the landlord the tools to find the best tenant without spending their own money.

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