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The 4 Most Common Bad Tenants—And How the Best Landlords Avoid Them

Bad tenants are a landlord’s worst nightmare. While the most successful landlords have vetting systems that help them avoid many bad tenants, everyone faces them at one point or another.

As a property manager in San Diego, we’ve seen it all—and we have some tips and tricks to help you navigate the four most common bad tenants.

The Storyteller

The storyteller is easily the most common bad tenant. He’s the one who’s constantly late on rent and fabricates a new excuse every time. 

This month his cat was sick, and he had to choose between veterinary bills and rent. But last month his car broke down, and the month before that he didn’t get enough hours at work. Don’t worry, he says. He’ll pay everything back next month. Pinkie swear.

How to Deal with Storytelling Bad Tenants

We have good news and bad news. The bad: The storyteller’s pinkie swears are meaningless, and you’re not likely to see a full month’s pay unless you’re willing to fight for it. The good news: It’s pretty easy to fact-check your tenant’s stories.

First, double-check your tenant’s source of income. Is he telling the truth about his cash flow (or lack thereof)? Talk to his former landlords so you can spot any worrisome patterns. If he has a bad habit of exaggerating his stories, call him out on it. These types of tenants often balk when confronted. 

Next, prevent future storytellers by examining your current rental agreements. Do you clearly state when rent is due, what the grace period is, and what penalties tenants can expect? You can never be too direct on your policy’s wording.

The Nosy No-Good

The nosy no-good is a headache for both you and your other tenants. She constantly complains about her neighbors, sends endless maintenance requests, and meddles in everyone’s business. When confronted, she bristles. It’s her way or no way.

How to Deal with Nosy No-Good Bad Tenants

You can’t evict someone just because you don’t like them, and though the nosy no-good is annoying, she’s certainly not breaching her contract.

That leaves one solution: Set boundaries early on and often. Respond attentively to their requests, but also ask them to message you only during certain hours. Record her complaints of neighbors, too, but explain your limits as a landlord. Unless a neighbor is breaking their contract, you’ll likely be unable to do anything.

The Partier

You can’t begrudge someone for having a good time, right?

That depends. Does your tenant’s idea of a good time include excessive noise and expensive property damage? If so, you’re probably dealing with the partier.

He’s the kind of tenant who smokes indoors and hides his dog to avoid paying a pet deposit. He invites crowds, neglects cleaning, and destroys the carpet. All in the name of a good time. 

How to Deal with Partying Bad Tenants

It’s often hard to notice the partier’s damage until it’s too late. By the time you identify them, they’ve likely already caused some trouble.

That’s why quarterly inspections are your best friend. Every few months, swing by your properties to look for damage. Take pictures of any broken items so you can get some repair money back from their deposit. If you don’t live in the area or have too many properties to conduct your own inspections, hire a property manager to oversee the process.

The Nightmare

Finally, we have the nightmare tenant — the one who won’t leave. Maybe she stopped paying rent, let her lease expire, or stayed despite an eviction. You’re threats don’t bother her. If anything, they just make her more stubborn.

How to Deal with Nightmare Bad Tenants

First, our condolences. This tenant doesn’t come around every day, but when she does, she wreaks havoc. 

That being said, you still have options. Research the tenant-landlord laws in your state before taking action. Inform them of both your rights and theirs. If the nightmare tenant still won’t vacate the premises, it’s time to get a lawyer involved.

The Best Solution to Bad Tenants and More

Bad tenants can’t always be avoided, but they can be minimized. When you partner with a reliable property management company and real estate agency like Amanica, you’ll get a team of professionals that help tackle your landlord problems. Contact us today to see how we can help.