In a perfect world every tenant would show up, clean their rental unit, pay their rent on time, not break anything, and be reasonable about updates, repairs, and changes to the contract. Unfortunately, it isn’t a perfect world, and even the most careful tenant screening can occasionally allow a less than ideal tenant into your property. In addition, tenants can start out great and turn into problem tenants later, when their own circumstances or situation changes.


In this short guide, you will learn how to identify problems, work with tenants, and create solutions, even if the tenant is being irrational, or completely abusing your contract.

Recognizing The Issue
Sometimes, there are no valid reasons behind why a tenant won’t pay their rent on time, is rude, or even not cleaning up their building. However, there are often easy to find and recognize reasons behind changes in behavior. For example, some of the most common include family deaths, new relationships, losing a job, losing a relationship, alcohol or drugs, or even you refusing to help them with something. If you can identify the issue, then you can tackle it appropriately. For example, if your tenant lost their job, you can direct them to housing assistance, if they have a more severe problem, you can work with them to either solve it, or to remove them as a tenant.

Being Proactive
Whether your tenant is calling you at all hours of the day to fix small issues, not paying their rent, or refusing to clean up the trash in your yard, it’s up to you to be proactive to fix the problem. Whatever the problem is, you can offer a clear solution to the tenant. For example, in the case of trash or dirt, offer to help them clean it up, but in exchange they cannot allow it to get messy again, or they will lose the lease. If they are contacting you non-stop, provide a schedule based on your availability, and list specific times as emergency only. You can also list a fee for contacting you inside of an emergency only time period for something that is not an emergency.

Communicating – Talk with your tenants and make sure they understand their rights and your rights. Be friendly, professional, and don’t judge.

Compromise – In some cases, it’s a good idea to compromise. If you have to raise the rent, offer them something in return, like refurbishment or similar. In fact, you can actually get money back from the government if your refurbishments are eco friendly.

Calm – Be professional, calm, and don’t ever let your emotions get the better of you.

Know Your Boundaries
You should have boundaries written into your contract detailing the tenant’s responsibilities and what you are legally allowed to do if they fail to meet them. While it wuold be irresponsible to kick out a tenant because they paid the rent a few days late once, it would be very responsible to replace them if they consistently show gross negligence that costs you money.

This also means that you should be very familiar with your contract and be able to discuss points in a conversation. If the tenant no longer has theirs, be sure to print out a copy and bring it to them when meeting face to face.

You also want to make sure that you document any requests you make of the tenant, andything that you do for the tenant, and get them to sign off on repairs and other issues. This will ensure that you can prove that you are complying with the law if the tenant tries to take it to court.

In some cases, the only solution is eviction. If the tenant is clearly breaking the terms of the contract, does not respond to requests, and are otherwise completely intractable. In this case, you should send them a notice giving them 30 to 90 days to comply with your request (depending on preference), if they do not comply, you can them send them a notice of eviction.

Managing property is a lot of work and it requires that you go hands on, spend time on your tenants, and handle maintenance and repairs. If you need help, contact SJA Property Management for help.