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HOW TO MANAGE DIFFICULT TENANTS: LONDON PROPERTY MANAGEMENT TIPS FOR RESOLVING CONFLICTS
Dealing with conflict can be a challenging task for anybody, including London landlords who manage their properties.
Below you can find how to manage difficult tenants, tips and approaches that can help alleviate conflict and relieve feelings of stress, frustration and helplessness.
From unapproved alterations to criminal activities and destructive behaviour, tenants can cause a lot of damage and delay in the management of your property. In some cases, you might even find yourself facing litigation or risking your property due to the behaviour of difficult tenants.
But don’t worry, there are steps you can take to ensure a positive outcome and resolve conflicts in a legal and professional manner. As a landlord, it’s important to start by clearly stating your rules and expectations in the rental agreement. This sets the record clear from the beginning and creates alignment between you and your tenants, hence avoiding potential future misunderstandings.
THE LATE PAYER
This is the tenant who always pays their rent late or not at all.
They may have genuine financial difficulties, or they may simply be irresponsible. Either way, this can affect your cash flow and cause you frustration. The best way to deal with this type of tenant is to communicate clearly and firmly. Here are some steps you can take:
- Have a written tenancy agreement that specifies the rent amount, due date, and late fees.
- Send regular reminders and invoices to your tenant before and after the rent is due.
- Follow the legal procedures for rent arrears, such as issuing a Section 8 notice or applying for a possession order if they still fail to pay on time.
- Try to understand the reasons behind their late payments and offer some flexibility if possible, such as agreeing on a payment plan, accepting partial payments, or changing the payment date.
- Don’t waive any fees or penalties unless you have a written agreement that states the terms and conditions.
Remember that your tenant is a human being who may be going through some tough times, we are living in a cost-of-living crisis in the UK. Be compassionate and respectful, but also professional. Don’t let your emotions get in the way of your business as late payments can create a significant impact on your cash flow. Therefore, it is important to have a clear and consistent policy for collecting rent and dealing with arrears.
For more information on how to deal with late payers read: How to handle rental arrears.
THE HOISY NEIGHBOUR
This is the tenant who disturbs other residents or neighbours with loud music, parties, arguments, or other noises.
They may be unaware of the noise level, or they may not care about others’ comfort. Either way, this can damage your reputation as a landlord and cause you legal problems. The best way to deal with this type of tenant is to enforce the house rules and the tenancy agreement:
- Have a clause that prohibits excessive noise and nuisance and specifies the consequences of breaching it.
- Respond promptly to any complaints from other tenants or neighbours and warn your noisy tenant verbally or in writing.
- Take further action, such as issuing a Section 21 notice or applying for an injunction if they persist in making noise.
- Try to mediate between your noisy tenant and the complainants and find a reasonable solution, such as asking your tenant to lower the volume, limit the hours of noise-making, or use headphones.
- Suggest some soundproofing measures, such as carpets, curtains, or insulation.
Remember that your tenant may have different lifestyles or preferences than you or others. Be polite and understanding, but also assertive and fair. Don’t let your tenant ruin your relationship with other tenants or neighbours.
According to the Greater London Authority, there were 3.6 million households in London in 2020/21; of these 2.4 million were rented (either privately or socially). This means that there are many people living in close proximity to each other in London, which can increase the risk of noise complaints. Therefore, it is important to have constant good communication with your tenants and neighbours and set clear expectations for noise levels.
THE PROPERTY DAMAGER
This is the tenant who causes damage to your property, either intentionally or accidentally.
They may break appliances, stain carpets, punch holes in walls, or leave rubbish behind. They may also refuse to pay for the repairs or cleaning costs. Either way, this can reduce the value of your property and cost you money. The best way to deal with this type of tenant is to document everything and deduct from their deposit:
- Have a detailed inventory and a condition report recording the state of the property before & after the tenancy.
- Take photos and videos of any damage and keep receipts and invoices of any repairs or cleaning services.
- Deduct from their deposit according to the tenancy deposit protection scheme rules.
- Pursue your tenant for the balance through a small claims court or a dispute resolution service if the damage exceeds the deposit amount.
- You should also try to prevent damage from happening in the first place by educating your tenant on how to maintain your property. Here are some tips:
- Provide them with a maintenance checklist, a user manual for appliances, or a list of dos and don’ts.
- Conduct regular inspections and address any issues as soon as possible.
- Encourage them to report any problems or faults immediately.
THE DEMANDING TENANT
This is the tenant who constantly asks for repairs, upgrades, or services that are not included in the tenancy agreement.
They may have unrealistic expectations or they may be trying to take advantage of you. Either way, this can drain your resources and patience.
The best way to deal with this type of tenant is to set boundaries and stick to them. Here are some steps you can take:
- Have a clear and comprehensive tenancy agreement that outlines what is included and what is not included in the rent and who is responsible for what.
- Respond to reasonable requests promptly and professionally, but decline or charge for unreasonable or extra requests.
- Keep a record of all the requests and communications with your tenant and provide receipts and invoices for any work done or costs incurred.
- Educate your tenant on how to use and maintain the property properly and what constitutes normal wear and tear.
- Don’t let your tenant pressure you into doing something that you are not obliged or willing to do.
Remember that your tenant may not have the same standards or priorities as you. Be respectful, helpful and understanding, but also firm and confident. Don’t let your tenant take advantage of your kindness.
THE TENANTS WITH LONG-TERM GUESTS
This is the tenant who has guests staying over for longer than allowed by the tenancy agreement.
They may have friends, relatives, or partners who visit frequently or live with them permanently. They may not inform you or ask for your permission. Either way, this can cause overcrowding, noise, damage, or liability issues.
- The best way to deal with this type of tenant is to monitor your property and enforce the tenancy agreement:
- Have a clause that limits the number and duration of guests and requires your consent for any long-term guests.
- Check your property regularly and look for any signs of extra occupants, such as extra belongings, cars, or mail.
- Contact your tenant and ask them to explain the situation and remove any unauthorized guests.
- Take legal action, such as issuing a Section 8 notice or applying for a possession order, if they refuse to comply or breach the occupancy limit.
- Review your rent and deposit amounts and adjust them accordingly if you agree to allow any long-term guests.
Remember that your tenant may have personal or social reasons for having guests over. Be courteous and flexible, but also cautious and vigilant. Don’t let your tenant violate your rights as a landlord.
If you’re interested in how you could minimising the risk of finding yourself having to manage conflict with difficult tenants, Forbes has an excellent article providing tips on improving your relationship with your renters.
HOW TO AVOID DEALING WITH TENTANT AT ALL?
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