You found someone you thought was the perfect tenant for your rental property. But now you’ve discovered that despite your best efforts, you’re stuck with a bad tenant who is causing problems? What do you do when you’ve ended up with the tenant who pays rent late, damages the property or has unwanted pets and subtenants living with them? If you want to sell it, can you even sell a house with tenants?
Provide a Written Policy
While the lease is your first step in creating a written policy between you and your tenant, it is also not a bad idea to create a “do’s and don’ts” list to give them at move in. It is important to set all expectations in the beginning. Do not take the handshake approach! Lay everything out in writing. Documentation shows your tenant you are a professional and in charge.
Stay Calm and Communicate
Communication is critical when dealing with a bad tenant. You want to ensure both parties understand where the other is coming from. It’s also important to stay calm. You never want to get angry or confrontational. Explain what is going on and answer any questions the tenant may have in full detail. You do not want any misunderstandings.
Review Your Lease
Leases should contain clauses about criminal and drug activity. If your tenant has broken any of these clauses, they should be aware that this activity will lead to immediate termination of the lease. If your current lease does not contain any such clauses, it may be worth your while to add them in moving forward.
Create a Paper Trail
You have spoken with your tenant face to face or over the phone about the issue. Now send a letter to all parties involved, outlining the conversation between the two of you. Include the lease that was signed before moving into the property with the letter.
Again, documentation is important to have in case there is any confusion on the part of either party. It will also be important to have on hand if you must file for an eviction.
Establish late fees and penalties for rent not paid on time or property damage. Set expectations and make clear the consequences for not adhering to them.
Take Action Quickly
Prepare to take action quickly. A property can spiral out of control if not handled in a timely manner.
Stay on top of the situation and follow up until the issue is resolved. Things may not be fixed following one phone call or face to face. It may take multiple conversations. As the landlord, you need to stay in contact with your tenant to ensure lease violations are fixed.
You have tried everything to make things work with your bad tenant. However, now you have come to the realization that nothing will resolve the problem. At this point, eviction may be your best and only option. The eviction process is different in Washington, DC than in Maryland and Virginia. Make sure you know the laws for your area. Consider hiring a qualified lawyer to swiftly evict the tenant, allowing both of you to move on.
Are you struggling with bad tenants? Are you looking to get out of the rental property business? Want to sell a house with tenants fast?