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How to Handle a Tenant that is being Abusive or Irrational

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Marina Shlomov - Tuesday, October 20, 2015

How to Handle a Tenant that is being Abusive or Irrational

Perhaps you’ve gone years with a dream tenant. You barely hear from them at all, except to receive their monthly rental payment. Then, one day, they decide to move on. You find a new tenant, but this time you aren’t so lucky. Whether you’re dealing with missed payments, middle of the night phone calls, or blatant rudeness, we have some tips that will help you handle a tenant that is being abusive or irrational.

First of all, you aren’t likely to come across a tenant who is physically threatening you. If this is the case, then you need to contact your local law enforcement immediately.

Moving on, if you have that one tenant who is abusing their rental agreement, there are plenty of things that you can do. Gently enforce your rules, letting your tenant know that the contract stands. To do this, you’ll need to arm yourself. Make sure you understand every surface of your contract. Your agreement should be crystal clear to both parties, and if you’re using a contract that you aren’t 100% sure about, then how can either sides be expected to uphold the terms of the contract?!

Now that you know the contract inside and out, you can define for your tenant precisely what needs to be done and what the consequences are if those items aren’t taken care of. Be firm when it comes to recourse. Let your tenant know that you are aware of their  rights and yours, and that you will take action if needed.

Keep a clear channel of communication, even if this tenant can be difficult. Make it easy for your tenant to reach you. By maintaining communication, you can cultivate a level of trust that will allow for peaceful resolution to many problems.

Your tenant might get angry and even irrational. 

Don’t take his or her words personally. You are an entrepreneur, and your property is your business. Your tenant is your customer. As long as your tenant is within his or her legal rights, then you might have to deal with his or her words or behaviors. However, if you know your contract inside and out, you’ll know how to spot the first sign of trouble that could lead to an eviction.

To handle an irrational or abusive tenant, the main idea is to maintain control of the situation by demonstrating your understanding of the contract and your willingness to take legal action if necessary. Don’t let your emotions control you, never speak in an unprofessional manner to a tenant. Maintain professional yet friendly, open communication while asserting your rights as the landowner.

Also, when you are handling a tenant who is abusive or irrational, it is especially important to make sure that you are documenting everything. Document phone calls, face-to-face conversations, and anything else that happens. Send notices for missed payments. All of these items are detrimental when it comes to showing that you thoroughly understand your contract and are going to abide it.

If you are within your legal rights and a tenant is being irrational or abusive, then an eviction is a legitimate consideration. With appropriate advertising and marketing, you can probably have a better quality tenant soon enough to justify the loss of your current tenant.

Marina Shlomov, a managing partner at ALH|Podland Realty & Rental Homes Property Management is the author of many articles on Landlording, Property Management, and Real Estate Investing. A residential builder in the state of Georgia since 1999, Marina is an investor herself. Her property management company is intended “For Investors” and “By Investors” for a simple reason – she knows what investors’ goals are and she works hard to reach their goals. In her spare time, Marina likes to spend time with her family, friends, garden, read and travel. Check her out at You can find Marina’s articles and comments at @rentalhomesatl on Twitter, on FacebookGoogle+, Blogger. and YouTube, Bigger Pockets and REI CLub and LinkedIn.

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