Kinds of Problematic Tenants and How to Deal With Them

Even with a good screening process in place, some landlords still end up with tenants from hell on their rental properties.

From tenants who never pay their rent on time to those who seemingly have no semblance of manners, you would be unlucky to experience having even one in your hands, let alone more than a few. And unfortunately, some of these nightmare tenants aren’t always ‘evictable’ as landlords are bound by several laws that forbid them to kick bad tenants to the curb. Moreover, unless you find a process server, the process of eviction can be a pretty tedious task on top of all of your other responsibilities.

To keep your rentals peaceful and avoid tenant-induced headaches, here are some of the worst types of tenants to avoid–and how to deal with them if they’ve already signed the lease.

1. The tenant who never pays rent on time

Or doesn’t pay rent at all. Some tenants forget to pay rent, while some are too busy to go through the payment process you’ve set up. These are pretty simple cases to deal with. To help forgetful or busy tenants avoid late payments, set up automated reminders a few days before the due date, as well as an easy online payment process that allows for automatic payment and sends online receipts.

However, other tenants can’t pay rent because of financial hardship. Situations vary for each individual, but in most cases, the incapability to pay is due to job loss, pay cuts, and unexpected expenses. In some cases, the lack of financial responsibility is the cause of late payments or no payments at all.

If tenants are going through a rough patch, discuss a repayment term for when they get back on their feet again. This is not you forgiving their debt but instead allowing them to delay rent payments until they can find another source of income, which is a more cost-effective option than eviction and risking having the unit vacant for months.

Lastly, some tenants don’t pay rent because of some malicious reason. If you find yourself with this kind of tenant in your hands, eviction may be the only way to stop money from going down the drain.

2. The tenant who damages your property

Whether it’s accidental or intentional, damage to your property can take a significant amount of money to repair. Suppose the tenant accidentally causes damage to the property because of their carelessness or negligence (and is not because of the wear and tear of the property). In that case, they may be liable for the damages. However, if the accidental damage occurs because of existing damage or age (a wooden step breaking when the tenant steps on it), the landlord is generally responsible for repair expenses.

Intentional damage is a completely different story. Screening potential tenants for previous records of arson, vandalism, and theft is essential in avoiding property damages. However, if this type of tenant slips through screening and proceeds to wreak havoc on your property, you may have to get the authorities involved.

3. The inconsiderate tenant

at a house party

Unless your rental property is in a location where there are no neighbors, your tenant has to have at least basic courtesy towards the people around them. This means keeping noise at a minimum, avoiding invading other people’s privacy, not being rude, and keeping their area clean in general.

The best way to gauge a potential tenant’s behavior is by asking their previous landlords or perhaps their old neighbors. However, if the tenant suddenly becomes inconsiderate when they move into your property, the ideal way to deal with the situation is by speaking to them directly. Some people are blissfully unaware that they are inconveniencing others, and simply pointing out that they are bothering their neighbors may be enough to take care of the problem. Other people, however, do not care. In cases like this, you may have to give them a warning of what you may be forced to do if they don’t stop bothering the other tenants.

4. The tenant who wallows in filth

Dirty tenants live in squalor and do not care about it. They may look normal when they go outside, but inside their unit is another story: their apartment is more than just dirty–it’s filthy.

How clean a person keeps their house is generally none of your business, but there are certain expectations for a rental property. To avoid this type of tenant, include a cleanliness clause in your lease that requires the tenant to keep the unit in generally sanitary conditions and free from vermin.


If you’re dealing with these nightmare tenants, communication is key. If that doesn’t work, then you may have to resort to stricter measures.