Dealing with Problem Tenants

April 2022

So, you’ve decided to rent out your home or purchased a property to earn rental income.

You’ve ended up with tenants who are not clean, late paying their rent and fail to follow condo rules.  Neighbours and the management office are complaining about their conduct.  Knowing that a single bad tenant can make a rental property unprofitable for many years, it is best to protect your investment.

Identify problem tenants before renting to them

There are ways to avoid renting to potential problem tenants.  Thoroughly screen all tenants based on their rental application.  Undertake full credit and criminal history checks.

Credit checks can show a tenant’s ability to handle money.  A low score from multiple credit accounts, or late or missed payments, are indicators of an inability to manage money.  Avoid tenants likely to delay on paying rent when collectors come calling to pay outstanding bills. Criminal checks can aid in identifying individuals likely to damage property.  Look for a history of violence or property offenses.

Evaluate a potential tenant’s current living situation by visiting their current address. Determine if the place is clean and well maintained.  Problem indicators include dirty clothing laying around, trash in the wrong places and failure to clean up after a pet’s indoor messes.  If a tenant is not living cleanly in their current home it is unlikely they will act differently in your home.  This can lower the value of your home, require extensive repairs when they depart, and cause trouble with your management office and neighbours.

Low income individuals may receive housing subsidies. This can be beneficial to a landlord in that payments are more secure.  Properties may have to pass inspection to ensure basic standards such as no peeling paint; and functional electric circuits, windows and smoke detectors.  Tenants under a subsidy program are more likely to maintain a property since eviction can result in loss of their subsidies.

Encouraging or forcing bad tenants to depart

Once in your home, it can be hard to force a problem tenant out.

  • Document all lease violations in writing. Photos and videos are helpful.  Supplement verbal notices with written notice.
  • Treat all tenants equally to avoid claims of subjective standards.
  • Encourage a tenant to leave by offering them cash to depart. Distasteful as this may be, it can be faster and more economical than dealing with a protracted eviction and possibly vindictive tenant.  Be sure to pay the cash after the tenant has departed and returned keys to reduce any risk of their damaging property.

If eviction becomes necessary it is best to work with an experienced property manager or attorney familiar with landlord and tenant laws.

Undertake measures to obtain good tenants and avoid those likely to be troublesome.  When a bad tenant slips through it is best to have them depart as quickly as possible and on good terms.

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