How to deal with difficult tenants

upset young couple

Being a landlord means making tough choices, like whether to upgrade to a smart home or how to fill your vacancies. However, while some tasks can present an exciting challenge, others can be a constant source of headaches. Are you an investor trying to protect your property from problematic renters? We guarantee that by the end of this article, you’ll know how to spot and deal with difficult tenants.

How to Spot a Difficult Tenant

1. They’re Late to the House Viewing

As the saying goes, first impressions matter, and that applies to prospective applicants. Thus, if a tenant is late to your first meeting or house viewing, it could be a sign that they don’t respect other people’s time. Although it would be a stretch to judge a person based solely on their tardiness, it could fit in with other signs.

2. Their Story Doesn’t Fit

During the screening process, you might have cause to ask a tenant something multiple times or do a background check. If you notice that their story seems to change or doesn’t add up, it could indicate something is wrong. For example, something could be amiss if they try to convey that they earn much more than their income statement says.

3. They Have a Bad Credit Score

Renters with a bad credit score often have difficulty keeping their finances on track. As a result, they might struggle with making timely payments. Since renting is the only way you can make money as a property owner, it can be frustrating when your renters don’t pay. If you’re already in a similar situation, you might be looking for ways to get the tenant to move out without eviction.

4. They’re Hesitant to Provide Information

Another red flag that could help you spot a problematic tenant is when they are hesitant to provide information in their application. While it’s normal for prospective tenants to have questions, especially first-time renters, they could be hiding something if they refuse to fill in their personal information.

5. Their Previous Landlords Complain

Rental management services advise landlords to ask for a previous reference during their application. Some experts might even say it’s one of the most crucial steps, and you should never skip it. Well, there’s no denying they have a point since previous references can help you understand a prospective tenant’s behavior. If their former landlords complain about late or missed rent and excessive property damage, you will likely endure the same.

6. They Have a Significant History

Finally, if a prospective applicant has a significant history of jumping from lease to lease or a criminal background, it could be a sign of trouble. That’s not to say you can’t give second chances, but you should be aware that they will likely be repeat offenders. Bad tenants usually misbehave patterns, which you can identify with a thorough background check.

Importance of Tenant Screening Process

1. To Preserve Your Property’s Condition

When dealing with difficult tenants, the best solution is to avoid them altogether with a thorough background check. In other words, every landlord should take their tenant screening process seriously. One of the ways it can benefit you is by preserving your property’s condition. Well-behaved renters are more responsible and will avoid causing costly damage to your units.

2. To Maintain Your Income Flow

Another reason you should prioritize a thorough tenant screening is to maintain your income flow. When you have problematic renters that refuse to pay rent, it stops you from earning interest on your investment. As a result, you might be unable to pay for necessary expenses or even settle your bills.

3. To Avoid Disputes

Generally, bad tenants that withhold rent or damage property are a cause for dispute. When you try to reason with them, hostile renters could become confrontational. Besides arguing with you, they can also clash with other tenants. This situation can breed contempt, causing other well-behaved renters to move out, making you lose more money.

How to Evict Tenants Properly

1. Review Your Lease

The first step to evicting a tenant properly is to review your lease. Every legal tenancy requires a rental agreement that dictates the rules for habitation. A typical lease condemns late rental payments, subletting, and illegal property use. Once you identify which clauses your tenant has violated, it can serve as grounds for eviction.

2. Serve a Written Notice

If you cannot reason with the tenant, filing a written notice is next. Your state or jurisdiction might dictate how many days after you serve the tenant’s information to vacate the premises. Although, pay or quit and cure or quit notice, give renters room to make amends or face eviction.

3. File an Eviction Suit

If a tenant is unable or unwilling to rectify the problem within the stipulated time, you can file an eviction suit. At this stage, with the help of a lawyer, you’ll have to prepare a legal request to remove the tenant. If the court grants your appeal, you can send the tenant an immediate quit notice.

4. Request Assistance

Despite receiving an eviction notice, some difficult tenants might refuse to vacate the premises. In that scenario, the best thing to do is request assistance from the law. It is not advisable to physically remove such renters, as they can counter-sue you. The same applies to their belongings, as most states prevent landlords from tampering with the tenants’ property till a significant time has passed.


Learning how to deal with difficult tenants is essential for every landlord. It’s one of the occupational hazards of owning a rental property, so it’s crucial to know how to spot one. A history of crime, bad credit, and lies are all red flags you should be wary of. Steering clear of problematic renters can help you preserve your property’s condition, earn a consistent income, and avoid a lengthy eviction battle.

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