Equifax

Finance Blog

Real Estate Investing: How to Handle Nightmare Tenants

Written by Sam Tamkin on April 22, 2011 in Real Estate  |   3 comments

Real Estate Investing: How to Handle Nightmare Tenants By Sam Tamkin “There’s a beeping sound in the home that’s driving me crazy. Can you come fix it?” When I heard those words, I knew I had a tenant who did not know the basics of…

Real Estate Investing: How to Handle Nightmare Tenants

“There’s a beeping sound in the home that’s driving me crazy. Can you come fix it?” When I heard those words, I knew I had a tenant who did not know the basics of home maintenance. In this case, the smoke detector needed a new battery.

Another one of our tenants refused to allow us to show an apartment at the end of the lease term. And some other tenants had a dog they assured me would not be a problem, but ended up causing $2,000 in damage to the wood floors.

What makes a problem tenant, and how should you handle one as a landlord?

First, you will usually want to try to talk with your tenants and find out what their concerns are. You’ll also want to determine if there are any other issues that may be causing problems in the landlord-tenant relationship.

In the case of the beeping smoke detector, the tenants truly had no idea what they were getting into when they rented a home. If these tenants ever buy a home, they will probably end up calling a handyman to change a lightbulb.

The tenants who would not allow showings had a small child, and one of the parents was a full-time student going through finals at school. In their case, simple communication was enough to solve the problem.

As for the situation with the dog, the tenants paid for the damage out of their security deposit.

Some tenants, however, are nightmares, and no amount of communication will fix your problems. Faced with a bad tenant, you’d better hope you have a good lease in place. The lease should outline the tenant’s responsibilities in caring for the home, including replacing batteries in smoke detectors, unclogging toilets, replacing lost keys, and performing other common home-maintenance tasks. The lease may need to include a fee schedule for service calls to the home caused by the tenant, or even a service fee that will be billed to the tenant if he or she misses scheduled appointments.

Your first defense as a landlord is the tenant’s application form. The form should allow you to get a credit report and score for the tenant. This information, along with a tenant interview, will give you an idea of who will be renting your home.

However, your ultimate protection will be the lease your tenant signs and the security deposit you collect. The lease will outline all landlord-tenant interactions, and the security deposit will allow you to recoup your losses from any damages to the property.

Do you have any nightmare tenant—or landlord—stories? Share them in the comments.

If you need help with real estate investing or property management, take a look at the Real Estate Investing eBook package from ThinkGlink.com.

Samuel Tamkin is a Chicago-based real estate attorney with more than 20 years of experience working with residential and commercial clients. Sam received his law degree from the University of Illinois College of Law in Champaign-Urbana. Sam currently practices as a real estate lawyer in Chicago, and his Ask the Lawyer column is syndicated in newspapers across the United States.

READ MORE:


Housing Market Predictions: Where Did the Recovery Go?
Spring Housing Market: 8 Tips For A Successful FSBO
Spring Real Estate Market: Preparing Your House For Sale
Real Estate Investing: How to Be a Good Landlord
Spring 2011 Housing Market Prediction

3 comments

  1. rowena.mariano17@yahoo.com says:

    Had one “Nightmare Tenant”. Had him evicted. Did not pay rent and damaged my property. I had a judgement against him and until now he has not paid me and he is hiding. Changed his phone and his address is a mailbox and I could not locate him. I have his Social Security Number though.

  2. Beverly Dye says:

    I have been a landlord for apx 35 years in two states and have never had a more difficult tenant than for the past seven (yes, 7!)years. She is a single mother with a grown son who does not work (reportedly b/c of health issues), so I have tried to be patient, but have suffered financially myself as a result. She has violated her lease agreement (dog and grandchild added), the rent has been paid late and/or with NSF checks a number of times and I believe the tenant has now moved to another state. I am finally going through the dreaded eviction process (posting notices, filing with court) but am concerned it will be difficult to locate her and collect monies due. She is retired. I would appreciate your guidance and would like to know if I can at least report these infractions on her credit report. Thank you. (P.S. She admitted she had ruined credit and lost her home before and STILL I agreed to rent to her . . . stupid, yes, I know!)

  3. jb says:

    When you have a bad tenant don’t worry about the security deposit or a months rent -just be grateful if you can get them out. We have all been fooled as landlords with tenants from hell, we had someone who complained about too many leaves in the backyard during fall. Like idiots we paid the gardener to rake them up before his next weekly trip. Were they grateful? no renters like this resent paying any rent and are just not nice people.


Leave a Comment


Name :


Commenting guidelines

We welcome your interest and participation on this forum, but be aware that comments will be published at Equifax's sole discretion. Please don't use this blog to submit questions or concerns about your Equifax credit report or raise customer service issues. Instead, you should contact Equifax directly for all such matters and any attempts to do so in this forum will be promptly re-directed.

Some other factors to consider when commenting:
  1. Registration and privacy. While no registration is required to visit our forum, participants wishing to post a message must register by creating an account. All personal information provided by forum members incident to registration is governed by our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.
  2. All comments are anonymous. We'll delete your name, e-mail address, and any other identifying information, including details about your investments.
  3. We can't post or respond to every comment - As much as we'd like to, we can't post every comment, nor can we guarantee that we will respond to each individual message. All questions or comments about your Equifax credit report or similar customer service issues should be handled by contacting Equifax directly.
  4. Don't offer specific legal, tax or financial advice. All of the materials on this Site are for information, education, and noncommercial purposes only and this forum is not intended as a means of expressing views or ideas regarding any specific legal, tax, or investment advice. While offering general rules of thumb is both permitted and encouraged, recommending specific ideas or strategies regarding investments, taxes, and related matters is prohibited.
  5. Credit Repair. This blog is not intended as a venue for the discussion or exchange of ideas regarding credit repair or other strategies intended to assist visitors and community members improve or otherwise modify their credit histories, ratings or scores.
  6. Stay on topic. Your comment should be concise and pertain to the specific post in question.
  7. Be respectful of the community. The use of profanity, offensive language, spam, and personal attacks will not be tolerated and egregious or repeat offenders will be banned from future participation. We encourage disagreement and healthy debate, but please refrain from personal attacks on our WordPresss and contributors.
  8. Finally: Participation in this forum may be terminated by Equifax immediately and without notice for failure to comply with any guidelines or Terms of Use. As such, you should familiarize yourself with all pertinent requirements prior to submitting any response through the blog or otherwise. All opinions expressed in this forum are solely those of the individual submitting the comment, and don't necessarily represent the views of Equifax or its management.

Equifax maintains this interactive forum for education and information purposes in order to allow individuals to share their relevant knowledge and opinions with other members and visitors. We encourage you to participate in discussions about personal finance issues and other topics of interest to this community, but please read our commenting guidelines first. Equifax reserves the right to monitor postings to the forum and comments will be published at our discretion. Do you have questions or comments about your Equifax credit report or customer-service issues regarding an Equifax product? If so, please contact Equifax directly. All opinions and information expressed or shared in blog comments are solely those of the person submitting the comments, and don't necessarily represent the views of Equifax or its management.


Real Estate Archive

Stay Informed Sign up for our FREE Equifax email Newsletter