Essential Tips for Dealing with Difficult Tenants

Three people standing behind a “House for rent” sign
Three people standing behind a “House for rent” sign

Being a landlord can be very lucrative. But it can also cause many headaches if you end up with bad tenants. Dealing with difficult tenants is challenging, but it is part of the rental business world. Here are some useful tips to help you tackle this problem and make your life as a landlord easier.

Try to prevent problems before they occur

With any problem that may occur, prevention is the best solution. Before you sign the lease agreement with anyone, analyze them well to spot potential bad tenants. Instead of just exchanging a few pleasantries, talk to them a bit more. Ask politely about what they do and whom they live with. The things that should raise your concern the most are problems with employment and the law. Also, you’ll notice the way that person speaks. If they tend to be aggressive and if their manner of speaking includes too much street jargon from the first minute they meet you, there’s a chance you may end up dealing with difficult tenants. Finally, state your rules on time before starting the lease. That should deter everyone that disagrees with those rules and prevent further unpleasant situations.

A move-in inspection should be done thoroughly

“That was how we found it when we moved in” – that’s what a bad tenant might say after breaking something. But if you did a thorough move-in inspection with a detailed record of the state your home-for-rent was in at that moment, this particular problem would be gone. Also, make sure you include this report in the lease agreement as well as the obligations of the renters and landlord should something be damaged. Clear rules were always the best way to deal with any situation where people claim opposite things.

When dealing with difficult tenants, introduce late fees

A landlord’s worst nightmare is late payments. Many people rely on the rental business to support their families. For them, not receiving a monthly payment means not being able to provide food or pay the bills for their home. Saying that to your tenants will not make any difference, though. What does make a difference are late fees. When drawing up the lease agreement, introduce a clause that defines penalties for being late with paying rent. Lease agreements are regulated by law, and not complying with their provisions is punishable in court. That is a much bigger motivation for tenants to pay rent than just a regular reminder or a heartfelt conversation where you say how much your life depends on the payments they make.

Know the law and your obligations

With difficult tenants, you can end up having a lot of discussions about whose obligation is what. Don’t get into that trap unprepared. Even with the best people in your rental property, study the law and your obligations well. It is in everyone’s best interest to convince the other side to do or pay something related to the home that is the subject of the lease. But don’t make such conversations become a haggling event. When you are sure about what you have or don’t have to do, it all becomes much easier. It’s another case that proves that knowledge pays off and ignorance can cost you.

Perform regular inspections

Apart from those who don’t pay rent on time, difficult tenants are also people who destroy property or constantly have too many guests. You might not be able to be present at the time they are doing such atrocities, but performing regular inspections may deter them. Otherwise, these visits from time to time may help you realize whom you are dealing with and terminate the agreement. You may have forbidden them to have people over for multiple days at a time too often. But how would you know if they are breaking this rule or not? But when they know you will be coming, they will clean up a bit and get their guests to leave. 

When you spot terrible tenants, do all in your power to urge them to leave

Sometimes it is best to part ways with people who hurt you financially and emotionally. Your mental state is as relevant as the state of your wallet, so try to eradicate all that may cause you any discomfort. Instead of waiting forever for bad tenants to find a new place and organize their relocation, try to help them yourself. For example, moving from San Francisco to Las Vegas is a complex endeavor that may take them too long to complete. Consider hiring movers and let experts jump in to ensure this bad tenant nightmare ends as soon as possible. This way, you will speed things up so you can move on with your life sooner. You could even suggest some other properties for them to look at if they seem too passive about moving out. Because, in reality, you are not helping them; you are helping yourself.

Demand respect and nothing less

The relationship you have with your tenants should not be one of friendship unless you were friends, to begin with. In a way, you are business partners, and getting too personal complicates things. According to this San Jose property management company, the most important thing to always bear in mind is that respect is the foundation of any good relationship. That couldn’t be truer in the landlord-tenant relationship. Even the most difficult individuals feel reluctant to cross you when they respect you. If you notice a tenant is disrespectful and rude to you, that’s one of the red flags that should tell you to get a different one. In any case, never tolerate insults from these people (or any other, for that matter).


Dealing with difficult tenants is something every landlord will face at least once. But as every problem has a solution, so does this. It generally comes down to thoroughly presenting the rules before, during, and after entering the landlord-tenant relationship. Also, do not disregard the personality traits of the people you intend to let into your property because they significantly affect how those people will react. Finally, when you realize you have made a mistake in your choice of tenants, gently inform them of the legal repercussions of their behavior and learn from your mistakes so you wouldn’t repeat them the next time.