How do you handle difficult people? Maybe you ignore them. Avoidance is a coping strategy, and not a terrible one.
However, that’s not going to work when it comes to difficult tenants.
As a rental property owner, you’re bound to run into tenants who make your work more difficult than it needs to be. Maybe they’ll complain about everything. Or they’ll launch themselves into conflicts and disputes with you or with neighbors. Maybe they won’t pay rent or they won’t take care of your property or they’ll simply refuse to communicate.
You cannot avoid them, and you cannot let conflicts escalate. Your job, as a Las Vegas landlord, is to remain professional and respectful. That’s not always easy, but it’s absolutely required.
If avoidance is still your preferred method of managing this, it’s critical you call a property manager. Property management in Las Vegas is great for a lot of reasons, but one of the best reasons to partner with a professional is so that you don’t have to deal with tenants – difficult or otherwise.
Until you’re ready to call for help, let’s look at some of the best ways to handle difficult tenants. With ease.
Let’s Limit Difficult Tenants with Great Tenant Screening
This might seem obvious, but the best way to deal with difficult tenants is to not place them in your property at all.
Get out ahead of the problem, and implement a fair but rigorous screening process that will help you get an idea of whether a tenant will be easy to work with. It’s essential to follow all fair housing laws, of course. You cannot deny a tenant based on any of the protected classes, but you can avoid tenants who have a rental history of difficulty and drama.
During your screening process, pay special attention to:
- Credit and income status. A tenant with terrible credit and not enough income may have trouble coming up with rent on time every month. This will present a huge difficulty for you.
- Prior evictions. This is not a road you want to travel; your qualifying rental criteria should address eviction and what you’re willing to consider and not consider.
- Rental history. Always talk to current and former landlords. They can tell you, with some authority, whether a tenant was easy to work with or difficult to work with, and why.
Know what to look for and how to identify the renters who are likely going to be more difficult than others. No one has a crystal ball. However, when you have a solid and consistent set of rental criteria and you apply them to every applicant, you’ll be more likely to end up with a resident who respects your lease agreement and doesn’t intentionally cause problems.
Create a Strong Lease
Any time you find yourself needing to respond to a difficult tenant, you’ll want to consult your lease agreement. It should be the jumping off point for any question, dispute, or confusion that might come up during the course of the tenancy.
If you don’t have a strong lease agreement in place, dealing with difficult tenants will not be easy.
A strong lease is key in making sure you are able to manage your investments and also deal with the various personalities who will be renting from you.
Here’s an example. Maybe a tenant is not taking care of the property as the lease requires. There’s a lot of trash in front of the home or you notice that the window screens are all torn and the blinds are bent and dangling from the window. Or, you could be dealing with tons of complaints from neighbors because your tenants are making a nuisance of themselves. Even if a tenant is not paying rent on time, your lease provides the direction you need in dealing with these difficulties. It will give you the authority to deal with that tenant in an appropriate way.
Continue to use your lease agreement when tenants try to push back or try to turn the situation into a power struggle. You can always provide them with a copy of the lease, highlighting the area or terms that are relevant to whatever problem you’re having.
Listen and Communicate
How are your listening skills? It can be a serious challenge to listen to your difficult tenants, especially if they like to complain. However, sometimes tenants simply need to be heard. They might be less difficult if you give them the time and attention they’re craving, and approach them with extra empathy and compassion.
There isn’t a landlord on the planet who can keep every single tenant happy at all times. But, if you’re willing to listen to and communicate with your tenants, you can compromise when appropriate and find effective solutions that get everybody as close as possible to happiness. That’s going to reduce a lot of the difficulty you’re dealing with.
Sometimes, difficult tenants like to complain. A lot.
If there’s a tenant who is complaining about things that cannot be controlled, communication is your best tool. Perhaps they just want to be heard. Learn how to embrace our advice to listen while setting boundaries. Your job is to hear your tenant’s complaints, and you want to allow for dialogue. Remain professional, calm, and respectful. Pushing back too aggressively or becoming rude will not help your situation.
Make Sure You Document Every Tenant Complaint
Hopefully, you have a great system in place for documenting the things that go on at your rental property in Las Vegas. Whether it’s maintenance or rental receipts or correspondence, you want to make sure you have a reliable paper trail that demonstrates what you have said to your tenants and done to your property.
This is especially important when dealing with difficult tenants.
Protect yourself. Make sure you document every encounter you have with a tenant, especially if they’re difficult. When they call to complain about senseless things, make a note of it. When they are displeased that a repair is taking too long, write it down. Keeping good notes will protect you against any potential claims, threats, or lawsuits.
Set reminders for yourself as well, if there are issues that require follow-up. Forgetting to do something you promised to do will only increase your tenant’s agitation and anger. Complaining to you is one thing. Complaining about you is something you’re definitely hoping to avoid.
Make sure your documentation is precise and detailed. Attach a time and date stamp onto every note you make about phone calls. Save emails and texts. Create a timeline of things your tenant has done to disrupt other tenants, avoid paying rent, or rage about maintenance.
How NOT to Deal with Difficult Tenants
You need to know yourself and you need to establish some boundaries.
Not every landlord is good at remaining professional. Even the most even-tempered among us can lose their cool when there’s a tenant who simply cannot be pleased. Maybe you feel you’ve done everything you can to help your tenant and you’re still getting a lack of cooperation and communication.
To protect your own reputation and to protect your property, be mindful of the things that will only cause you additional trouble. Do not:
- Send text or email messages to your tenant when you’re mad. These may come off as threatening and can be used against you in court later.
- Leave angry voicemails for your tenant for the same reason.
- Yell. Anything you want to say should be put in writing so your correspondence is documented and you’ve had time to think through what you want to say.
- Violate your own lease agreement or the law. You cannot change the locks or turn off the utilities or show up insisting your tenants leave. Follow the law and get professional help.
Each situation is unique, but don’t become emotional. Don’t say or do things you will later regret. Ask for advice – from lawyers, property managers, and even other investors.
Las Vegas Property Management
When tenants seem simply impossible, you might need a little space between you and them.
More than a little space, actually.
What you might need is professional property management. Property managers provide a buffer between you and your difficult tenants. If you’re not already working with a professional management company, there has never been a better time to reach out. That’s because you don’t have to deal with tenants at all when you partner with a Las Vegas property management company. When you have a smart and talented property manager on your side, you don’t have to worry about any of your tenant’s petty complaints or incessant stories that explain why rent is late. Your management company is entirely responsible for that relationship.
Would you like some help with your more difficult tenants? We’re here to provide it. Please contact us at New West Property Management. Our team expertly manages residential rental homes in Las Vegas and throughout Clark County, including Henderson and North Las Vegas.