How to Manage Difficult Tenants


Tenants that are difficult to deal with might make your work as a landlord unbearable. Some of them make payments late on a regular basis, while others are irresponsible and cause damage to your property. Recognizing this potential problem early can dramatically lesson your aggravation.

Late Payers & Non-Payers

Late payments, no payments, or partial payments can wreak havoc on a landlord’s financial well-being. No matter how hard you try, you may still come across late payments. To limit those occurrences, follow these tips below:

  • Rigid Policies: Leases need to spell out precisely what the procedure for rent payments are and what happens if a tenant pays late. Advise the tenant that this is a firm policy you intend to enforce.
  • Create Reminders: If your lease has a built-in grace period, consider an automated rent reminder for those tenants that miss the due date. 

Laws Are Merely Suggestions

If a tenant in your property becomes criminally active, it is best to consult an attorney for advice. That said, some of the tips below also help:

  • Screening: Pre-screening applicants will reveal prior criminal history. Evaluate this carefully in conjunction with other qualifications. Someone with a small blip 15 years ago may be an excellent tenant but watch for recent illegal activity or a pattern of behavior. If you see that, steer clear!
  • Regular Inspections: Periodic inspections of the home may reveal signs of illegal activities or potential problems, especially drug related.

Property Damage

Property damage is a huge problem for landlords, not to mention an expensive one.  As a landlord, taking preventative steps to avoid these terrible tenants is critical. Consider the advice below:

  • A Well-written Lease: Carefully spell out maintenance expectations before the tenants take possession of the Rental.
  • Perform a Detailed Move-in Inspection: Take photos and carefully document the property condition. This will give you something to compare with once the tenant moves out, allowing you to charge for damages lawfully.
  • Conduct Routine Inspections: This is something you should put into practice for any rental property. At least twice per year, inspect the property for any potential maintenance concerns.

Constant Complainers

Property owners also deal with a fair share of complainers. They continuously call, at all hours, and for everything, including unreasonable requests. Here are some tips on how to deal with them:

  • Know Your Legal Obligations: Landlords are required to make certain repairs that are essential to the habitability or safety of the home. However, that does not mean you have to jump at every little request from tenants, knowing the difference will save time, money, and aggravation.

Remind Them of the Lease: A lease should spell out who is responsible for what when it comes to maintenance. Light bulb out? Does the HVAC filter need change? This is the tenant’s responsibility, and you may need to remind them of such.


Tenants who attempt to rent the property or who have several prolonged visitors going in and out cause complications and responsibility for the landlord. If someone is in your property who is not on the written lease, it indicates the lease conditions do not apply to them.  Depending on state and local laws, getting them out might be a lengthy and costly judicial struggle. Follow the steps below to avoid this at all costs:

  • Subletting: Do not allow it. Make this clear as part of the lease agreement and keep the lines of communication open. 
  • Inspections: Inspections can provide a wealth of information. If you discover any unauthorized occupants, address it immediately with the tenant.
  • Guests are Allowed: A tenant has the right to have guests come over or even stay a few days. However, anyone planning to stay longer than that needs to be cleared with the landlord first.

In conclusion, having a clear and well implemented Tenant Application process in place will reduce the probability of placing the wrong tenant in your property 

Daniel Borrero, Jr.

Real Estate Investor since 1989