Landlords need to consistently enforce the rules for each tenant and each instance that it happens. If tenants get the idea that they can bend the terms of their lease without any repercussions, they may choose to take advantage. And, in cases like apartments where neighbors can become friendly, older tenants may pass along bad habits to newer ones.
Communication is easier said than done. Perhaps the tenant doesn’t answer their phone, or the landlord lives in another state, so it’s not easy to knock on the front door. Or maybe they don’t seem to care about the warnings and continue to pay their rent late or not at all. Landlords should document their conversations and warnings with bad tenants to protect themselves, especially if the situation escalates to needing to take legal action.
Having a middleman serve as a mediator between the landlord and the tenant can eliminate the hassle of interacting with bad tenants. It’s important to choose a property manager with experience handling difficult tenants and the many issues that can arise.
A property manager is handy for landlords who don’t live near the property or own many rental properties. They can make regular visits to check on the house or apartment or respond to emergencies from tenants.
Be familiar with your rights and your contracts
Landlords often use a generic template for their lease agreements, which is perfectly fine. However, it’s still important for property owners to be familiar with the information within it and ensure it covers their bases. For example, if a landlord wants a tenant to leave but signed a fixed-term lease, there is a start and end date to the lease, rather than going month to month. As a result, landlords may have to wait until the lease is up to evict the bad tenant.
However, fixed-term leases aren’t necessarily bad, especially if you have a good tenant. In that case, it just means that you have a year’s worth of income built-in from a person who you know takes care of the property and is timely with their rent payments every month.
Make sure your rental agreement clearly outlines expectations for the behavior and care of the property. If the tenant breaks these rules repeatedly, it can be referred to for eviction.
Evicting a bad tenant
If all else fails and the tenant’s behavior doesn’t change or even improve, it might be time to consider eviction. It’s not an enjoyable process, but for the landlord’s sake, it’s best to replace a bad tenant with a reliable and respectful one.
Armed with the documentation of their behavior and the rental lease terms, the landlord must provide the tenant with an eviction notice. Note that different municipalities will have different rules for how much notice a landlord is required to give their tenant before eviction.
Seasoned landlords may have an eviction notice ready to serve, but those who are unsure or newer to property ownership may want to consult an attorney to help draft the document.
If the tenant inflicted damage on the property or conducted illegal activity from the home, an attorney could also help with getting money from the tenant in court. However, this process costs money, and landlords might be out of luck if the tenant doesn’t have the funds. Before moving forward with this process, calculate if it’s worth pursuing in the first place.
- File a claim with homeowner’s insurance
If going to court isn’t feasible or a financially sound option, landlords can file a claim with their homeowner’s insurance to recoup their losses. On the downside, a landlord’s insurance rates will probably increase with each claim. Also, the landlord’s insurance will only cover unintentional damage, such as a busted pipe or an accidental fire, according to Allstate. If a bad tenant decides to vandalize the property as their last hurrah, the damage may not be covered.
Selling a property with bad tenants
Having to deal with a bad tenant is stressful, especially for landlords who don’t like confrontations, lack the funds to hire an attorney, are unsure of the eviction process, or are dealing with a bad tenant who also happens to be a family member. There are many reasons why a landlord may want to let go of a property with bad tenants.
Selling to a third-party buyer like Meridian Trust is not only cost-effective to the landlord but also a way to have a buffer between you and your bad tenants.
Owners can sell the property without worrying about the house’s condition, inspections or evictions. Instead, Meridian Trust’s legal team will handle the eviction process and fix any damage resulting from their time there.
The landlord is freed of the responsibility and aggravation of a bad tenant and the obligation to fix up the rental.
It can be an ideal outcome for a not-so-ideal tenant situation.
Note: This guide is for informational purposes only. Meridian Trust does not make any guarantees about the sufficiency of the content in or linked to this blog post or that it is compliant with current law. The content within this blog post is not a substitute for legal advice or legal services. You should not rely on this information for any purpose without consulting a licensed lawyer in your area.