Most landlords face at least one difficult tenant at some point, and it can be extremely frustrating to manage. The issue can be someone who pays rent late, doesn’t follow the lease agreement, or causes problems with the neighbors. Regardless of the issue, a difficult tenant can make your life hard.
When considering ways to handle a problematic tenant, you have plenty of options. The most obvious is to evict them and find someone new, but depending on the issue, that may be more trouble than it’s worth.
Sometimes the best solution is to find a compromise that will eliminate the issue without causing you too much trouble. Being understanding of your tenants can go a long way to diffuse an emotionally charged situation.
If compromise isn’t your first consideration, that’s understandable. Why should you be overly nice to a troublesome occupant? However, there are several reasons to give this some serious thought.
Compromise discharges tension
Technically, you are the landlord, which means what you say goes. You shouldn’t have to cater to a tenant, especially when they want something that goes against the rules or is an inconvenience. However, compromising with a difficult tenant is the best way to discharge tension.
No, it’s not your tension, and it’s not your fault, but you can’t force people to take responsibility for their agreements or actions. Sometimes you have to take the short end of the stick (temporarily) to smooth those tensions out.
Agreeing to compromise with a tenant doesn’t have to be a permanent solution. If the issue is bad enough to warrant eviction, don’t hesitate to get the paperwork started. However, while you’re starting that process, do whatever possible to keep the peace. It could be the only thing that prevents the tenant from destroying your property.
Some tenants legitimately need adjustments
Once in a while, you’ll have a tenant who can’t seem to pay rent on time or follow certain rules for a good reason. In this case, it’s helpful to consider making slight changes to accommodate them.
For instance, someone might need to pay rent in the middle of the month rather than the first or on the fifth to make it work with their income. In many cases, asking for a different rent due date is considered a reasonable accommodation and will need to be approved unless it creates an undue hardship for you.
When it comes to bending the lease rules, use your discernment, but don’t be petty. For example, if your policy is not to allow any hanging plants and a tenant has a small pot of flowers that aren’t harming anything or making a mess, consider letting go of the issue if they seem combative.
Arguments that will only escalate emotions aren’t worth your time. On the other hand, if a tenant is leaving their trash outside the front door for days at a time, don’t let that go because it can attract rodents, and dogs might rip the bag apart and spread garbage all over.
Your rules might be unreasonable
It’s also possible that your rules are unreasonable and hard for tenants to follow. For example, maybe you don’t allow motorcycles on the property. If you created this rule because of the noise, there is another option. If a motorcycle is your tenant’s only form of transportation, perhaps to save on gas or be able to park easily at work, consider requesting that they cut the engine before riding up the driveway and not starting the engine until they reach the road.
Mediation is required by law
Another good reason to consider compromising with your tenants is that mediation might be legally required before you can evict someone. Check to see if you’re required to pursue mediation prior to filing eviction paperwork. If so, compromise will be unavoidable.
Nothing is worth fighting over
All in all, there isn’t anything worth fighting over with your tenants. If something becomes a major issue after they’ve agreed to follow your rules, it’s their responsibility to refer to their signed agreement and adjust their behavior.
You’re the landlord, and you set the rules. However, if a tenant is being difficult over small things, they’ll probably be worse over larger issues. Don’t let things get that far. Compromise at the moment and do what you can to prevent the situation from escalating, but always have a backup plan.
Should you evict the tenant? Can you reason with them? Are your rules unreasonable? Does it make sense to accommodate their needs?
Only you will know what’s right in a given situation. Just remember that jumping to legal action right away might not be the optimal choice. You can prevent headaches, stress, arguments, and potential property damage with compromise, even if only temporarily.