It can be a property owners nightmare, but at some point in each property management career it becomes inevitable—the problem tenant will show their face. Perhaps it’s just a minor scenario like a tenant who continues to submit late rent payments every single month. In many instances, it can be for worse: drug dealing, domestic violence, criminal activity, property damages, and more.

Having someone in your property who does not respect it, you, or the terms you both agreed to can become an increasingly frustrating affair. Our team of property management experts has put together a list of the top three things to keep in mind when it comes to a problem tenant.

Keep calm and go by the book

It’s human nature to feel entitled to go immediately to anger when a tenant deliberately breaks the terms you’ve agreed upon. And when it’s clear that they’ve done damage to your investment property, tensions can rise quickly.

The worst thing a property owner can do when it comes to dealing with a problem tenant, however, is losing their cool or get too emotionally involved. One of the primary reasons for hiring a good property manager is to help create some buffer space between you and the tenants in your property. A good property manager has seen just about every scenario that could come up and has a pre-determined procedure for handling each professionally and with care.

As a property owner, if you’re not working with a seasoned property manager, it’s important to create procedural outlines for how you’ll approach certain scenarios BEFORE they actually come up. Being able to go directly to a pre-written process and plan helps eliminate any error that can come about when emotions are high.

Use clear written communication and document everything

When dealing with a problem tenant, one of the worst case scenarios is that you’ll end up in front of a judge trying to actually prove that the tenant did something wrong. This can be tricky if you have not thoroughly documented every single violation of terms that the tenant has done.

It’s not only important to document what is happening to your property with photos, video, and audio, however. You’ll also want to make sure that you are properly communicating through written correspondence to the tenant each violation and the penalties associated.

A good property manager will have many pre-written templates ready for any given scenario to make sure that you’re legally covered should you ever have to go to court and prove your claim. The more information you collect and document, the stronger your case will be.

Walk a mile in their shoes

It may seem obvious, but it’s amazing how often it gets ignored when in the heat of an argument over leasing terms: Your tenant is a human being. They often have a family and problems of their own. And while this is no excuse to break the terms of their lease with you, it’s certainly worth thinking about when deciding how you will approach and communicate with them.

When you approach each tenant from the start with respect, there is a good chance they will do the same with you. Staying in regular contact with them and showing up with a friendly maintenance team or check-in can be ways to have continued face time with your tenants, so they remember that you’re human too.

When it comes down to it, many tenant problems can be solved with clear, honest communication. A great property manager is well-versed in the communication patterns and written records that will set you up for the highest level of success with your property portfolio.

At InterWest Properties, we’ve been dealing with every kind tenant scenario imaginable for over 30 years so that our clients can rest-assured that their property is in good hands. If you’re having trouble with a tenant and could use some advice, we’d love to chat with you.

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