Prevention, Being Proactive, and Following Through
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Preferably you have done a very thorough screening process and ensured that all occupants over the age of 18 are on the lease. Whether or not this was done, sometimes problem tenants still get through and cause problems for you and/or your other tenants. There are many people in this world who are not who they portray themselves to be. There are a variety of ways to get rid of problem tenants who have gotten through your screening and verifications. If you are not thorough with your screenings and verifications then you are asking for problem tenants.
Be proactive. Do not wait for other tenants to complain. Many tenants avoid complaining out of fear of retaliation from the problem tenant and you, the landlord. Others don't complain because they simply don't care if people are making or using illegal drugs, damage to your property can be seen or heard, etc. It is imperative that you be proactive in making regular inspections whether exterior or interior. Even the simplest and fastest exterior inspections can give clues as to who is and is not going to be a problem. Whether it be a pile of trash at their door or your ability to clearly hear yelling, see someone damaging your property, or hearing loud music, being proactive can allow you the chance to nip problems in the bud or catch violators in the act.
Never give any lease/rule/law breaker a pass. The people you are trying to be nice to may take that inch and demand a mile with worsening behaviors whether immediately or in the future. Do not ever waffle on enforcing the rules you have in writing. If you do, you are setting yourself up for the possibility of having good tenants see that you don't enforce rules and leave. You also risk other tenants seeing this and feeling that they too can cause problems or break rules and get away with it as well.
If only it was this easy to spot bad tenants
Inspections, Raising the Rent, and Non-renewals
Perform "inspections" and "maintenance" in part to prove illegal activity. Schedule them when you believe the offenders to be at work. It is your property and if they are breaking the law and you have proof you can sometimes get rid of them even faster than you may expect. Understand that as the landlord in some counties and cities, you can have your property seized by authorities if you allow illegal activity on your property such as drug use or manufacturing. Check with your local authorities as to how fast and make sure you have proof for the police who will be more than happy to get lawbreakers a new home at the local jail.
Raising the rent is a tried and true method of getting rid of bad tenants. Be careful, if you do this in a retaliatory manner you could find yourself in court in tenant friendly areas. For example, if you have had a disagreement (or several) with a tenant, in tenant friendly areas you may be held liable if you raise the rent on them within 6 months or less of any incidents. Even if outside of this timeframe you still could be at risk of being held accountable for retaliation depending on the specifics of the situation. Many people are resigned to the fact that rents are typically raised each year but a fair number of those who cause problems are unable to afford even a 10% increase in their rent and will have to go elsewhere. Also, do not aggressively raise the rent. Avoid raises that are clearly outrageous such as 20% or more when you have made no improvements, but raise it enough to make them scoff if possible. Even if they want to renew, you still have other options.
Inform them that you will not be renewing their lease. Ensure that you have this option in your leases, it is standard in many areas of the country and can be an excellent way to get rid of problem tenants. Many tenants breeze past this and feel blindsided when they get a non-renewal however, if they signed the lease they agreed to this possibility and it is their responsibility to read their lease before signing. It is a way for you to get rid of tenants that are not to your liking as well as those who actually cause you or others problems. Ensure that you are not using non-renewals (or any other options) in a discriminatory manner against protected classes of people.
Eviction. This is the least liked of these options because it can be expensive and it will often not get the tenants out quite as quickly as you would like. Further, if you have to evict, all too often these types of tenants are scrambling to get out and will leave all manner of messes and damage behind. Actually getting compensated even if you win a judgment can be another headache where you have a good chance of not ever collecting even partial or full amounts due.
There are a number of options that can help you rid yourself of bad tenants. The best way to ensure you don't have them is to have rigorous screening, credit, and background checks in place. Some landlords require referrals while others do not advertise to the general public. Others ensure that their application fees are at least 30% higher than most other application fees in their area to weed out renters who could be barely scraping by financially. If you get a look at their car or better yet their current home you can probably guess how they will treat your property and sadly for some, you can just take a look at how they present themselves to you to get a gauge as to whether or not they are clean or considerate of those around them. No matter how you run your landlord business, weeding out the bad seeds is reliant upon the level of effort you put into screening on the front end and sometimes a bit of luck. Good luck to you.
© 2019 H C Palting
H C Palting (author) from East Coast on February 27, 2019:
Thank you so much for reading.
Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on February 27, 2019: