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Deal with Bad Renters

How to Deal with Bad Renters

Bad tenants are a nightmare.

Try to get rid of toxic renters at your property, and you can expect to incur thousands of dollars in costs: months of unpaid rents, damage to your property, eviction court costs, attorney or other legal help, and, of course, dozens of hours of your time wasted.

The best answer to avoid this appalling problem, as always, is preventing bad tenants in the first place.

You should start with aggressive, thorough tenant screening, including credit reports, criminal checks, eviction reports, income verification, character references, and rental history verification with several past landlords.

However, prevention doesn’t stop with tenant screening. Landlords need to send a consistent message — month in and month out — that they take the lease terms seriously and enforce them without hesitation.

That means conducting regular inspections, serving lease violation notices immediately, and checking in with tenants about maintenance, and most of all, serving eviction warning notices on the first day the rent officially becomes late.

If you do all of the above, you will prevent 99% of your tenant headaches.

But what about that 1% of cases, when the tenants just refuse to play by the rules?

Before we review your options, let’s pause and outline what not to do.

The Big No-No: Self-Help Evictions

Before we offer our helpful ideas, let’s make something crystal clear: Self-help evictions – of any kind – are illegal.

Not slap-on-the-wrist illegal, but rather you-can-go-to-jail illegal.

A self-help eviction is any intervention the landlord takes to make the property unlivable and/or to try and coerce the tenants to vacate. They include (but are not limited to):

Changing the locks
Turning off utilities
Physically blocking access to the property
Removing the tenant’s belongings
Harassment of any kind
Sending Vinny over to the property with a lead pipe
There is only one legal pathway to forcibly remove tenants from a property: filing for eviction in court.

Now that we have that out of the way, what are some alternatives to filing eviction?

We’ve put together six creative ways to get rid of bad tenants, in increasing order of urgency and desperation.