Bad tenant, tenant from hell, rogue tenant or whatever the name, some tenants can be a heavy weigh in the hands of a landlord or property manager. For one thing, they can mean loss of rental income for some months or in other cases, higher maintenance expenses as a result of careless handling of the property, or worse.

Bad tenant’s can be a bug not only for the land lord, but also for other tenants. If left unabated, such tenants can as well be a cause of a mass exit from your property, leading to losses in rent.

At any rate, you don’t want this type of tenant anywhere near your property. But how can landlords know who could turn out rogue and who could be heaven-sent? There’s no water-tight formula, but most processes rest on a balance of probabilities. In any case, here are five ways to avoid or deal with a tenant from hell…

Background checks

Tenant screening is an irreplaceable item in the landlord’s due diligence checklist for bringing on board a new client. It can make the difference between a happily ever after or an unnecessarily endless and stressful tug of war with a tenant. Landlords will do well to check the tenant’s history with regard to payment routine, conduct on property including whether they have unrelated criminal records, family, career and income range among others.

If the prospective tenant is currently housed in another property, it’s not best practice to contact their current landlord because they are likely to conceal the true situation just to offload a troubler. Instead, a more diligent step may be to contact two or three former landlords. Usually, some tell-tale signs of impending friction may include too many pets, history of violent felonies, past evictions etc.

Higher a property manager

Sometimes, flying is better left to those with wings. Property managers, being third-party professionals, are likely to do a better job in dealing with tenants of all kinds as a result of their technical know how about property management and years of experience in dealing with all sorts of tenants, if they have been in business for a while.

They come at a fee, but at a scale the upside could is usually higher than the downside and it is based on predetermined and negotiable rates. In terms of risk control, which is an essential element in any investment, it is the better option. In retrospect, it may be cheaper to pay five percent of annual rent to a property manager than to incur rental losses and a good deal of stress dealing with a criminal tenant.

No cash payments policy

If you insist on being land lord, it is prudent to put in place such measures that will constitute a system of controls against any abuse by tenants. For instance, accepting cash payments whether for rent or any expenses. Cash payments do not provide sufficient documentary evidence for when a tenant claims to have paid full amount. Added to poor record keeping, a landlord would have no recourse.

A more excellent way would be to channel all payments through a dedicated account with the ability to automatically generate records of transactions and statements of account. This can be done at little or no cost.

Put everything on paper

In any jurisdiction, the law of the land provides for the contractual relationship between land lords and tenants. The land lord-tenant agreement will outline the responsibilities and safeguard the interest of all parties in any extreme eventuality, where a gentleman’s agreement will not make the cut.

The land lord should make sure the tenant understands the terms of agreement and signs before assuming occupancy. The law protects landlords and tenants in equal measure, but it’s rarely the case that disputes end up in the legal system. And ordinarily they shouldn’t, unless it’s absolutely necessary.

Eviction

No matter how thorough you are at screening potential tenants, you are bound to have some difficulties with some tenants over time given the unpredictable nature of people and events. Many times, disputes can be resolved by establishing the facts and ironing out the folds. However, the tenant from hell may be likely to have none of that. In that case, the landlord could be left to pursue the last option; evacuation. This can be a messy and expensive affair, but it does happen.