When you’re renting out your home, you want to trust the people living in your space. While you’re likely to have amazing tenants who take outstanding care of your property, you’re also bound to run into unfavorable tenants from time to time. Dealing with terrible tenants is one of the many realities of being a landlord. 

Whether they pay rent late every month or cause damage to your property, you need to know how to take action to prevent the problem from getting worse. You don’t have to settle for bad tenants as a landlord or property manager. Here are actionable steps to take if you find yourself coming face to face with a bad tenant in your property. 



1. Avoid Bad Tenants

The first step is easy for new landlords to overlook, but it makes all the difference. There are many steps you can take before renting out your home to prevent renting to bad tenants in the first place. This includes performing background checks, calling references, and meeting your tenants in person prior to signing a lease. 

Get a feel for your tenants before you choose to rent to them. Make sure they’re able to provide legitimate proof of income, a solid credit report, and a history of positive rental experience. If you’re questioning whether they’re a good fit for your property, they probably aren’t. Even if you take all of these steps and more, sometimes poor tenants still slip through the cracks. If that happens, follow these steps below. 



2. Stay Rational

One of the most tempting things to do when you notice your home is at risk is to overreact. It’s understandable to get angry if problems pop up, but losing your control of the situation will only make things worse. Take the time to calm down before creating a plan. Avoid taking immediate action if you feel you won’t be able to handle it professionally. It’s much easier to communicate with your tenants in your home if you’re levelheaded and respectful. 



3. Keep Accurate Records

When conflict happens, you need to keep clear records. It does add an extra step to an already complicated situation, but it’s vital that you protect yourself with evidence of your tenant’s behavior. In many states, there are protections in place that keep landlords from taking actions against the tenants without evidence. These records will come in handy when attempting to dispute a charge or work with your local court, if necessary. 

If you’re checking your physical property, don’t rely on written records alone. Take photos and videos including a timestamp to provide an extra layer of security. You can’t be too careful, even if it takes more time. 



4. Be Consistent

One of the worst things you can do as a landlord is not to be consistent with your tenants. For example, if you allow your tenants to pay rent late without a consequence for one month, you can’t expect them to feel the need to pay on time the next month. You need to set firm ground rules from day one and stick to them. 

Even if you’re not getting the response or result you want from your tenants, keep taking action. Follow up again and again, and don’t let things drop. This will show your tenants that you’re serious and that they can’t take advantage of you.  



5. Ask Your Tenants to Leave

Finally, if you’re unable to find a positive way to handle your tenants in your home, it might be time to ask them to leave. Asking them to leave is much easier than proceeding with the eviction process, so it’s a good first line of defense before escalating to eviction. The most professional route is to send your tenants a Written Notice to Vacate. 


If you make it clear to your terrible tenants that eviction is the next step you’ll be taking if they don’t voluntarily leave, many will choose the path of least resistance. However, if you must proceed to eviction, make sure you research the rules in your state. There are clear guidelines about what qualifies a tenant for eviction under the law. Ultimately, the best way to deal with tenants when you rent out a home is to always do your due diligence. Avoiding unpleasant and disrespected tenants in the first place is the easiest way to prevent problems, yet it’s not always possible. If you do find yourself with terrible tenants, stay professional and create a plan with the steps above. Luckily, there are many excellent tenants out there in need of a home, so the perfect match is possible.