Landlord Rights

Dealing with troublesome and difficult tenants

One of the biggest risks you face as a landlord is renting out your property to the wrong tenants, as problems they cause could affect your income. Dealing with problem tenants can feel like a night-mare.

In a perfect world, every tenant will pay their rent promptly, avoid damaging the property, conduct himself or herself as a responsible neighbour, and make your job easy and rewarding.

When problems occur during a difficult tenancy, there are steps landlords can take to protect their rights. Let’s look at some common problems with tenants and how landlords can deal with them.

What problems can difficult tenants cause for landlords?

Some of the common problems that landlords encounter with difficult tenants are:

• Rent arrears Missing rent payments or making persistent late payments is one of the big-gest financial problems a tenant can cause.

• Illegal activities Another concern for landlords is that a difficult tenant could use your property as a base for activities that break the law.

• Noise complaints from neighbours If neighbours have an issue with your tenants and are unable to resolve it with them directly, they will expect you to step in and handle it.

• Damage to the property or contents Accidents happen, and a level of normal wear and tear is to be expected. But difficult tenants can cause far more damage than is acceptable.

• Refusal to vacate At the end of the tenancy, even if you have given your tenants proper notice, they can cause problems by refusing to leave and forcing you to go through the evictions process.

• Unreasonable expectations While all tenants will expect the property to be well maintained and any necessary repairs to be dealt with quickly, a problem can arise if their re-quests are constant and unmanageable.

How can landlords handle problems with difficult tenants?

While problems with difficult tenants can be very stressful, it’s best to manage them calmly and rationally.

Try the following approaches:

• Reasonable monitoring If you are concerned about damage to the property or inappropriate use of the property, make regular inspections at a reasonable frequency to determine when further action is necessary.

• Communicating directly Tenants may not initially be aware that they are causing a problem, and a calm but honest conversation can help to resolve the issue.

• Keeping written records In case you later find yourself involved in legal proceedings, it’s best to keep all communication documented from the start. Face-to-face conversations and phone conversations should be followed up with a written summary.

• Involving the police If your situation involves any illegal activities, you should notify the police so that they can deal with that element.

• Following legal process It can be tempting to deal with serious issues by taking drastic action, such as changing the locks. This will likely only cause further issues and place blame on you. Avoid this and stick to the legal courses of action available.

• Commencing eviction proceedings If all else fails, follow the proper process for eviction, which involves notifying your tenants and applying for a court order.

How can landlords avoid problems with difficult tenants?

There are actions you can take at the start of each tenancy to avoid problems before they occur, rather than deal with them once they arise.

Take the right action:

• Run a background check, ask for references and check their ‘right to rent’ status.

• Complete all the legal paperwork, such as a tenancy agreement, and make sure that all the possible problems are covered within it.

• Create an inventory to avoid any disputes about damage occurring during the tenancy.

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