There’s nothing quite as unpleasant as having a bad tenant. Some people are just dirty and destructive, others do not pay rent, while some may just flat out cause consistent trouble with their neighbors or your staff. Nevertheless, you will find several things you can do to protect yourself against bad tenants, and reduce the harm done.
A Strong Lease Agreement
A weak lease agreement is a destructive force to your business. Not only do you leave yourself open to being exploited, but simply by having a poor lease, you can attract the kind of person you want to avoid. Additionally, if you do get in a legal bind with a tenant you want to make sure your Lease will stand up to legal scrutiny.
So, to begin with make certain you’ve got a lease agreement that’s well crafted and will protect you when things go bad. If you are just starting out, there are places online where you can buy standard contracts – but it is always advisable to consult a lawyer. If this is a prohibitive cost, consider searching around for free resources (sometimes Universities will provide student lawyer services to small businesses who fit specific criteria).
Issue all Legally-Required Rental Disclosures
The bad tenants certainly include those who refuse to work with you when a problem arises. It’s no fun to deal with people who instantly go to their lawyer when something goes wrong, but if you should prepare as if this is a certainty. A lawyer hired by a pissed off tenant is likely to look for the easiest holes in your work, such as checking to make sure you fulfilled your legal obilagations by providing all required paperwork.
These are going to be state and city-based requirements, so again to figure out what is required of you, it is advisable to consult an attorney.
Offer the Tenant a Deal to Leave Quickly
Sometimes a tenant is being troublesome because they simply want out of the lease. There might be problems in their personal life, and/or they may be too embarrassed or afraid to ask for your leniency in releasing you from the lease – which can be an answer for them trying to find legal precedent. Before going down the full legal route, consider offering them an easy out (just be aware of local laws and your specific situation – always consult a lawyer before making this sort of decision).
If you are looking at an eviction situation, for example, and they are prepared to leave rapidly and clean the rental unit on the way out, then you definitely might offer to not file the eviction and damage their credit (again, eviction law is tricky and you don’t want to do this without legal consultation).
Comply with Local Eviction Laws
As a property manager, you have to be careful to stick to all local laws and regulations with respect to eviction – if you step over your bounds, you can give the tenant ammunition to make your life hell.
We will briefly cover this later in the week.