Bad Tenants Can Cost Thousands-What Should You Do?

     

rental housesI own a few rentals around LA county. For the most part, I have good relationships with my tenants. Why? Because I screen my tenants carefully for past evictions and do both background checks and reference checks prior to signing a lease agreement. I also don't charge the highest rent in the area because I want the best tenants, not the few who are willing to pay the highest rent (there is usually a reason why). This leads me to my discussion about bad tenants.

Value for Tenants

If your tenants don't see the rental as a value to them for what they are paying then they will most likely require lots of extra care. They may want you to pay for extra landscaping, new flooring, new tile, new you-name-it. If you charge fair rent for the area, your tenants will see it as a value and be happy. These tenants will more likely fix things that are broken (small items) and be flexible with you on upgrades. Be sensible. You can avoid bad tenants.

Tenant Expectations

My second point is about expectations. If you don't set clear expectations from the very beginning, you will be sorry. Why? Because a potentially bad tenant will take your lax behavior as weakness and use it to their advantage. I am sorry to say that it is true. If you have a written agreement as to cost of rent, date rent is due, and ramifications if it isn't paid, that is the first step. The next step is to stick to the agreement. I know this because my first rental had a bad tenant. I was new to landlording and was flexible. The bad tenants took advantage of that, big time! I ended up getting her to move, but only after I lost 3 months of rent! Ugh!

Eviction: Is it time?

Sometimes an eviction is the only way to get back on the right track. That is only after you've tried to get back on track and it's not working. Evictions are costly. I had to go through it and it cost me over $5,000 in attorney and court fees. Yuck! Who wants to go through that? Most landlords don't, so they let the bad tenant stay. Either way, you will pay.

Next Steps with Bad Tenants

I have bought properties with bad tenants. I do my best to get the rental back on track with the existing tenants, but sometimes it has become such a negative relationship that eviction is the only answer. Don't get me wrong, having a tenant move out without a problem is much better than eviction. I am assuming the bad tenants aren't paying rent and won't move.

Deciding Whether it's Worth Being a Landlord

It's a tough one. Being a landlord isn't for everyone, that is for sure. It really requires thought and proper planning to have few hassles.  

Jennifer Shenbaum

About The Author

Jennifer Shenbaum is a real estate investor based in Southern California. She is a veteran of the housing market crash of 2007. Best of all, she offers free remodeling ideas to all who ask.