How To Deal With Difficult Tenants

In most cases tenants of a rental property will be responsible and sensible, and treat your property with respect. Unfortunately there will always be some exceptions to the rule, who create difficulty and stress for you as a landlord. 

Here are some of the issues that might arise with difficult tenants, and how they should be dealt with.

Tenant is Unable To Pay The Rent

If the tenant is unable to pay part or all of the rent, the best solution is to talk directly with them about the reasons. If they have previously been a good tenant, it’s likely that they are very stressed and worried about not being able to pay, so a constructive, empathetic approach will be helpful. If no acceptable solution can be found, you may have to begin an eviction process, which must follow a strict procedure.

Tenant is Disturbing The Neighbours

Neighbours being disturbed by neighbours generally comes down to issues of noise, such as excessively loud music, televisions, parties, children, dogs or power tools. The best way to approach this problem is to include a clause in the tenancy agreement that relates to excessive noise and quiet hours, which would typically be between 11pm and 7am. If the tenant refuses to discuss the issue with the neighbour, you should speak to the tenant directly, and refer to the fact that they are in breach of their tenancy, which could lead to eviction. 

If the noise continues, the neighbours can call the police, which could lead to an anti-social behaviour order for the tenants.

Tenant is Subletting a Room

It can be hard to know if a tenant is actually subletting a room, as they may be innocently having a friend to stay for a while when they are away, rather than making money out of your property. If you have suspicions, contact your tenant and ask them what is going on. If you can’t get hold of them, either by phone, email or in person, this could be a sign that something is amiss. Outlining in the tenancy agreement that subletting isn’t allowed is crucial, as it gives you grounds to investigate further and take appropriate action.

Tenant is Engaging in Illegal Activities

Examples of illegal use of a property include selling or producing illegal substances, prostitution or the production or sale of counterfeit goods. As well as posing a danger to the property and other tenants, if you as landlord turn a blind eye to criminal activity you may end up being prosecuted. Make sure you carry out regular, scheduled checks of the property to get an indication of whether anything illegal is happening. If you think it is, contact the police. You don’t want to end up being questioned about your involvement if the tenant is caught before you have voiced your concerns.

Tenant is Refusing to Vacate The Property

One of the most frustrating things a tenant can do is refuse to leave a property when the tenancy comes to an end. While this puts the landlord in a difficult position, it is vital that the correct procedures are followed to evict the tenant legally, otherwise the situation can become very drawn out and expensive. You must serve notice on the tenant using either a Section 8 Notice, which is non-fault based, or a Section 21 Notice, which is an accelerated possession procedure. 

Once the notice period has expired you have to apply to the courts for possession of the rental property. This will get the court to instruct a bailiff who is legally allowed to get the tenant out. This can take between 3-5 months but you mustn’t be tempted to take the law into your own hands as you are likely to end up facing charges of harassment.

The Dos and Don’ts of Dealing With Your Tenants

Problem tenants are annoying and difficult, which is why you want to find and hold onto good ones. Being a good landlord and having a positive relationship with your tenants is very important and will make being a landlord much easier. The following tips will help:

Be careful when choosing tenants

By properly screening tenants when they move in, you will be able to weed out any potential bad ones. Make sure you check their credit rating, employment status and references.

Be professional

When dealing with your tenants, always be professional and friendly even if they aren’t behaving in the same manner. Good communication means that disputes can be dealt with quickly. 

Keep records

Document everything relating to the tenancy and keep records of financial transactions and maintenance issues, and any calls, messages or emails you receive from the tenant. Make sure all requests are in writing, so you can refer to them if necessary.

Get proper insurance

Make sure you have the correct insurance policies for your property, including landlords insurance. This can help pay towards the costs of energy damage the tenants cause, as well as helping if the tenants are unable to pay the rent.

What You Can’t Do

Even though the rental property belongs to you, landlords still have to abide by laws that allow tenants peaceful enjoyment of their home. These stipulate that:

  • You cannot enter your property without prior agreement from the tenant. Landlords have rights to ‘reasonable’ access to carry out repairs but you must always get permission from the tenant with at least 24 hours notice, unless it is an emergency.
  • You cannot harass your tenants: it is a criminal offence. Harassment includes entering the property without getting permission from the tenant.
  • You cannot physically throw your tenant out. This also constitutes harassment. You must go through the legal eviction process as outlined above or you may face charges.

If you have problem tenants and are renting your property through a reputable letting agent like Hopewell, you will be able to ask them for expert advice on any difficulties. If you don’t have a letting agent you can contact the Citizens Advice Bureau for help and support.