How to deal with problematic tenants in a property

by Gary Whittaker

For the majority of tenancies, landlords, letting agencies and tenants will work together perfectly, with the relationship running smoothly and the entire process being a pleasant one for all. But for any number of reasons, there are things that can go wrong. Sometimes this is down to mistakes being made, just bad luck, or even problematic tenants themselves. 

The vast majority of tenants are fantastic to work with, but some can pose challenges. According to Moneywise, one in every five tenancies presents difficulties for landlords and letting agencies, either through failure to communicate, not maintaining the property as they are required to, or even not paying their rent. 

As an agent, when problematic tenants do present themselves, it's important that you know how to deal with them. Doing this right can help to minimise problems and get the relationship back on track to make sure everyone is enjoying a happier tenancy.


One of the best ways to minimise problems with problematic tenants is to simply protect against them in the first place. Some people will be hard to deal with in general, so if they've got a track record, it can be a good idea as an agent to try not to work with them at all, making your life easier from the start. 

The easiest way to identify a problematic tenant is to ask everyone who is renting from you for references from their previous letting agent or landlord. That way, you know that someone is not going to be posing a problem from the off if someone else has said they had a good experience with them. 


Of course, you won't be able to pick out everyone who is potentially problematic from just carrying out your pre-tenancy checks. There are some issues that will not come to a head until later, but when they do, contact is key, and acting fast is equally important. 

If a property inspection shows a lack of maintenance, or someone has failed to pay their rent on time, don't let the issue simmer. Tackle it head on straight away and get in touch with the tenant. Remember, you don't really know what the cause of the problem is, and until you do, it's hard to get to the bottom of it and rectify things. Try contacting the tenant asap when problems come up to see if you can help them and work through things together. They may well appreciate knowing someone is there for them and wants to help, and it can help to smooth out bumps in the road. 

Be empathetic

You don't want your tenants to ever think of you as the enemy, but in cases where things have gone wrong, it's very easy for those living in a property to start to see a 'them and us' divide open up. This is something you need to get a grip on early in proceedings with any problem to make sure you are on the same page. 

When you get in contact with tenants to try to find out why problems have arisen, be understanding and empathetic about the issues they may tell you about. If a tenant who is facing difficulty feels like they have you on their side, they're much more likely to open up and let you help rather than seeing you as the opposition, which would make things a whole lot more difficult. 

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17-February-17Property Management