Trouble-Making Tenants: Common Types & How to Deal with them

Property Management Blog

Trouble-making tenants can derail your goals to create passive income streams from your rental property investments. Landlords are strongly advised to rely on robust tenant screening methods to weed out all problematic applicants. Screening reveals the financial reliability and debt management abilities of an applicant.

However, even reliable tenants can end up financial turmoil, forcing them to make late or partial payments. At times, reliable tenants may end up damaging your property by keeping destructive pets or altering the structural and cosmetic architecture of your property.

It’s essential to devise a screening system, but even with robust mechanisms, you cannot weed out chronic complainers. This article will walk you through the common types of trouble-making tenants and how to deal with them.

Tenants who make late or partial payments

Tenants who are habitual of making partial or late payments are by far the most common problem. It’s essential to overcome this issue by devising and enforcing strict property management rules. The tenant is likely to make sentimental requests, and plead for extension after extension.

Most landlords struggle to navigate through this issue because of their conscience and moral compass. However, if the issue is occurring every month, it demands a strict response. The wisest route is to inform your tenant that late fee penalties are a natural facet of your accounting system, and the repercussions are non-negotiable.

Naturally, this requires a firm and strict attitude. Showing flexibility and compassion will only encourage the tenant to make delays each month. A 2-3 grace period is advisable, but we advise you to embrace the good cop-bad cop strategy. The property management system is the unforgiving bad cop, and the landlord is the good cap, gently advising the tenant to make timely payments to avoid late fees.

Tenants who cause property damages

Tenants who cause property damage created unprecedented losses for landlords by compromising the structural integrity of the property. Regular inspections are crucial to rule out this issue, and ensure that your tenant takes good care of your property.

Do you use a mobile inspection app? We strongly recommend its use so you can easily monitor the property condition, and reduce the time, effort and cost of regular inspection. These apps are user-friendly, and they allow you to take pictures and incorporate these images in the inspection report. They allow landlords to create a comprehensive inspection report with before-after pictures to build credible evidence of the tenant’s negligence.

Each problematic, property-damaging tenant is different from the other. For instance, one tenant may end up painting the walls in a bright fuchsia tone, while another may cause dry wall damages with extensive shelving. It’s essential to add detailed clauses to the lease agreement to define all actions that constitute as property damage.

The lease agreement must also clearly require the tenant to ensure that the property is left in the same pristine condition before the tenant moved in. So, if the tenant has damaged the walls, he/she must repair these damages or you can use the security deposit to cover for the repair costs. However, if your lease does not include these clauses, pressing damages will prove immensely challenging.

More importantly, it’s wise to schedule interim inspections to ensure that your tenant is taking good care of the property, and following all rules and regulations that you laid down in the agreement. Landlords reserve the right to issue a “Cure or Quit” notice to tenants who refuse to undertake repairs or pay for the damages.

Tenants who sublet the property without their landlord’s approval

A wide majority of tenants use their rented property as a vehicle to earn an income on the side. They can sublet a room or a part of the property without consulting the landlord and asking for approval. Modern-day tenants are likely to benefit from the booming short-term vacation rental industry by renting out rooms and spaces on Airbnb.

This is a clear violation of the landlord-tenant laws, and you reserve the right to press charges. Landlords choose their tenants after a lengthy screening and approval procedures. Naturally, the tenant has no right to allow unscreened strangers to parade around the property without the landlord’s approval.

House-guests are another problem. Tenants commonly bring in unexpected guests, arguing that they reserve the right to entertain guests because they are paying the rent. Therefore, it’s essential to add specific clauses about dealing with unexpected house-guests and subletting to avoid complications.

Tenants who are chronic complainers

Some tenants hardly communicate with their landlords, aside from discussions pertaining to their monthly payment and repair needs. Others are chronic complainers who are constantly ringing the landlord to make outrageous demands. They want the tenant to handle every single repair and maintenance need, from the HVAC system to plumbing issues, electric wiring and more.

They complain about everything, from minor and menial concerns to major issues and damages. It’s not unusual for chronic complainers to even blame their landlords for the climate and weather conditions. It’s essential to deal with such tenants with a firm hand. Don’t indulge in their whining because you are not under any legal obligation to attend to such requests.

Tenants who keep destructive pets

A comprehensive pet ownership clause is essential to discourage tenants from keeping destructive pets. Cats love to mark their territory with urine streams and claw marks, while dogs have a habit of chewing everything in sight. Tenants who bring in pigs, monkeys and other animals can cause unprecedented damages.

It’s wise to avoid allowing pets in the first place, but this can reduce your pool of potential tenants and applicants. However, allowing tenants to keep pets requires diligent scrutiny and legal clauses to prevent damages. Even if the damages occur, you must stage regular inspections and collect evidence to demand the tenant pay the repair costs.


All problematic and trouble-making tenants require a firm and unwavering approach. You don’t want to indulge them because submitting to their demands once will create a vicious cycle. Exert your control and influence as a landlord, and practice the good cop-bad cop regime.

If you’d like to talk more about property management, or you need help with Everest Property Management, please contact us at Everest Realty.

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