Jason Cohen is the founding member of Jason Cohen Pittsburgh, a real estate advising group that specializes in the niche of multi-family housing. Jason Cohen himself has spent over a decade revitalizing and operating multi-family properties, and is thus more than adequately equipped to advise landlords. Below, Jason Cohen outlines a few tips for surviving a nightmare tenant.
Being a landlord comes with a lot of responsibility and no small amount of risk. When a landlord takes on a tenant, they must trust that the tenant will be respectful of the rented space and leave no more than expected wear and tear. However, sometimes even careful landlords find themselves dealing with a particularly burdensome client and face months of grief. Fortunately, there are actions property owners and managers can take to make handling troublesome renter easier.
Screen Potential Tenants Thoroughly
The best way to deal with a troublesome tenant is to avoid them in the first place. This can be done by carefully screening applicants before they ever check out the property. This assessment should include an application, credit and background check, and speaking to prior landlords and references. Depending on the situation, an assessment of the condition of their current residence may be in order.
Put It All in Writing
Sometimes difficult tenants honestly don’t mean to be a pain – they simply don’t know what the rules are, even when it seems that the rules should be obvious. Create a written policy that needs to be signed along with the lease. Stipulate even the most obvious rules, such as what date rent is due, what they can and can’t do to the home (painting, adding or changing furniture, etc.), whether they can have pets, who’s responsible for lawn maintenance and anything else that could crop up and become an issue.
Some landlords create problems for themselves by being too nice: the tenant pays the rent late, but they don’t charge a late fee; the tenant paints a wall and they say it’s no big deal, so the tenant paints the whole house. Unfortunately, kindness can be mistaken for leniency; thus, it’s important that all landlords set rules and enforce them in a professional manner. The written policy in the previous tip can be to the landlord’s benefit, as well, ensuring that they have a list to refer to when determining if the tenant has broken a rule to a degree that inspires concern or requires confrontation.
Hire a Property Manager
If all else fails and a landlord feels as though they simply aren’t cut out for dealing with bad tenants, hiring a property manager to deal with the tenants on a day to day basis can be the best option. This allows the landlord to only be concerned with bigger decisions.
Difficult tenants are never a pleasant experience. By following the simple tips outlined, it can be a somewhat easier experience. If nothing else, a nightmare tenant is a learning experience.
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