As a landlord, having lousy renters can make owning rental properties expensive, time consuming, and very frustrating. Below we’re giving some tips on how to deal with a bad tenant in Lancaster.
When tenants have issues paying rent or not taking care of your property, it’s easy to question why you got started with rental properties in the first place. Most landlords are looking for a low-maintenance, easy to get along with tenant, that pays and stays (hopefully for a long time). Unfortunately, this isn’t always the kind of tenants Lancaster real estate investors end up having move into their rental properties. Dealing with a bad tenant may be frustrating, but we’re hoping our tips below will make it more bearable.
Try to Avoid Bad Tenants to Begin With
Admittedly, this isn’t always an easy thing to do. That said, performing a thorough screening and background check can help take some tenants that are a high risk for bad behavior out of the equation. While some landlords try to DIY their background screenings, you’ll want to make sure you use a company with a good reputation to run these reports. They can often range from $25-40 per report. While this may sound expensive, an eviction can cost thousands! Companies such as Cozy or SmartMove can provide these services as well as many others.
In addition to properly screening your tenants, your lease will need to be iron clad, covering every possible situation. This is another area where it doesn’t make sense to try and scrimp on costs. Have a local attorney that handles real estate represents other landlords look at your lease before using it! Spending this money up front, especially if you plan on having multiple rental properties, can save you lots of money and heartache in the future.
When dealing with tenants it’s crucial that you keep your emotions in check. It will never help the situation to lose track of your emotion, and can often lead to bad feelings moving forward. No matter the situation, always retain your sense of professionalism and cool head. Plan how you’d like the interaction with the tenant to go calmly bring up the problem with your tenant. If both sides are reasonable, there’s often a solution that can be reached that satisfies both parties.
Utilize Property Management
Depending on your situation it can make sense to hire a property management company to handle the management of your tenants and real estate. These folks should handle all interaction and screening of tenants as well as handling evictions should they need to take place. They’ll also handle maintenance, book keeping, etc. so you can concentrate on other things. When hiring a property manager in the Lancaster area, you can expect to pay about 8-10% of what the property is bringing in each month.
With that in mind, be extremely careful when hiring property management companies. Property management is a really difficult job, and this can make finding good ones very difficult. Make sure you screen them well and talk to other investors that currently use their services.
Cash for Keys
If your issues with the tenants are still on-going and you’re at a point where eviction would be the next step, there is another potential option to try. Evictions can be expensive to process and also result in the loss of income during the process as typically tenants don’t pay rent while being evicted. Because of this, it can sometimes make sense to offer tenants a certain amount of money to move out on their own accord. Once they turn over the property and their keys to you, you give them cash. This sounds counter-intuitive to some, but if you’ve been through an eviction you can probably see how this could be a better solution. We call this the “cash for keys” approach.
Time to Evict
If none of the previous strategies have worked, and if your tenants are in direct violation of their lease, you can begin the eviction process. It’s vital to keep very detailed records of contact, making sure everything is also conveyed to your tenants in writing. You will want to follow the eviction laws in Pennsylvania very closely as failing to do so can cause the court to side with the tenant. This leaves you stuck with the non-paying tenant who will definitely not take good care of your place after trying to kick them out. Remember, it’s not uncommon for evictions to cost in the thousands, so you’ll want to be sure you’re doing what it takes to get the desired result.
If you are dealing with a constant turnover of renters or a string of bad tenants, maybe the Lancaster investment property isn’t the right one for you. Good investors when to minimize their losses and walk away. If this is a property that’s not doing what it was meant to do, taking up too much time, or continuing to cause you stress, it might be time to consider selling the property. This doesn’t mean that you’re a bad investor, but rather that you’re taking action to turn a bad situation into a better one.