Even with the most structured and in-depth screening process, it’s is inevitable that at some point or another you will be challenged with difficult renters. If you are a seasoned landlord, you know what we are talking about. The tenants who never pay their rent on time (if they even pay at all), who sneak in pets and think you won’t notice, who sublease the rental unit, and those who have ragers every weekend and maintenance requests every Monday. If you just leased your first LA investment property or you are considering buying your first income property, get ready.
Unfortunately, difficult renters are just part of the business. The good news is there are steps you can take as a landlord to mitigate landlord-tenant issues and get through difficult situations with your renters. As property managers of both properties we do and do not own and more than 25 years of property management experience in the Los Angeles area, we have acquired many helpful tips and strategies for dealing with difficult renters. In today’s blog we are going to share these helpful tips with you, but first let’s talk about the four main types of difficult renters:
Difficult Renter Type 1: The Late/Non-Payer
“I lost my job,” “I was in the hospital and got hit hard with medical bills,” “I will pay two month’s rent next month,” “I mailed you a check, but I must have sent it to the wrong address.” While hardships do happen, the late/non-payer has an excuse nearly every month for why their payment was late or why they cannot pay at all.
Difficult Renter Type 2: The Rule Breaker
You knew them in school and you know them now as tenants — the rule breakers. Some people truly believe rules don’t apply to them. No matter how many times your bring up the rental agreement, these types of renters never change. While it may seem obvious to you that you are going to find out they’ve been keeping three cats, two dogs, a ferret, and any other stray animal that passes by, they actually think you’ll never notice — or smell the evidence. Not to mention, nor will you notice the three long-term “visitors” occupying the space.
Difficult Renter Type 3: The Destroyer
Then there are the renters who don’t respect other people’s property. The people with the, “I don’t have to live here forever, so why should I care?” or “It’s not my problem, it’s yours,” mentality. These people can literally destroy anything they touch. You can say goodbye to your freshly painted walls, spot-free carpet, and well-maintained appliances once the destroyer moves in.
Difficult Renter Type 4: The Demander
On the opposite side of things are the demanders. And while you at least don’t have to worry about not getting paid or having to pay pricey repair fees, the demanders will still give you a run for your money. These are the difficult renters that you receive frequent calls from at all hours of the day and night about unreasonable things, such as there not being enough hot water, squeaky floor boards, and the color of your walls not being quite right.
Does this sound all too familiar? As a property manager, you need to know how to communicate and professionally work with a multitude of different personalities and people. Gold Standard Asset Management in El Segundo can help! As California property management leaders, here are a few property management tips we’ve acquired over the last quarter-century of property management experience:
When you are dealing with a difficult tenant — or anyone for that matter — it is easy to become angry and lose your temper. Getting into a screaming match with your tenant, however, is not going to solve the issue. Therefore, it is important to keep professionalism in mind and always communicate in a calm, cool, and collected manner. Here are a few things to consider when communicating with a difficult tenant:
- Acknowledge the issue
- Take time to think about the situation, if needed
- Refer to the written agreement
- Remain in control; don’t lose your temper
- Create a written plan of action
Before your tenant moved in, they signed a written agreement. It is your job to hold them to that agreement and take action as soon as the agreement is broken the first time. If a tenant doesn’t pay their rent one month and you let it slide, you are setting the expectation that it is acceptable to do it in the future. Similarly, if a client calls you at 2 a.m. in the morning for an unreasonable request and you get out of bed to go fix it, expect to be called again. Setting your expectations early on is key for putting a stop to unwanted behaviors before they become an issue.
In a battle of “he said, she said,” records can be a lifesaver. Make sure to keep note of every conversation you and your tenant have about rent collection, maintenance requests, deposits, or any other subject that could cause an issue. Better yet, keep photographs of the condition of your rental unit before the tenant moved in and capture any evidence of the tenant breaking the rules of the agreement when possible.
Evict The Tenant
While you can’t just evict a tenant because they are difficult, you can evict a tenant if they have not paid their rent, have violated the lease agreement, have caused damage to the property, or have extended their stay past the expiration of the lease. If your tenant is guilty of any one of these offenses and you are at your breaking point, you can legally start the eviction process.
Who said owning an investment property was easy? With GSAM, it can be! When you hire our expert property management group, you can enjoy the luxuries of owning an investment property in California while we handle all of its drawbacks — like difficult renters. Contact us today to discuss our property management services and how we can help! We look forward to speaking with you.