Setting Boundaries with Difficult Tenants

Renting out your property to tenants is a great way of turning a profit from the things you own. It can be very rewarding and a great source of income – but it can also be a source of problems. Even the most well-meaning tenants can (and do) sometimes break the rules. So, how do you handle difficult tenants? How do you set boundaries in order to protect your rights as a landlord and keep the peace? Let’s take a look.

What is a Difficult Tenant?

A difficult tenant is a tenant who fails to meet their obligations, such as:

– Making late payments or not paying rent at all
– Damaging or vandalizing your property
– Ignoring maintenance requests
– Refusing to keep the premises clean
– Violating the terms of your rental agreement

These are just a few examples, but the list could go on. Difficult tenants can cause landlords a lot of trouble and expense if the issue is not resolved quickly.

How to Set Boundaries with Difficult Tenants

Setting boundaries with difficult tenants is key to ensuring that they abide by the agreement. Here are some steps to take to set effective boundaries:

1. Communicate Clearly

Clear communication is essential when it comes to dealing with difficult tenants. Speak to them calmly and explain why their behavior is unacceptable and how it affects you. Let them know what is expected of them and what the consequences will be if they fail to comply. This step may involve having a difficult conversation, but it is necessary in order for both parties to understand one another.

2. Set Clear Rules and Boundaries

It is important to have clear rules and boundaries when renting out a property. Create a written agreement that is signed by both parties which outlines all the rules and responsibilities of the tenant. This agreement should include things like:

– When rent is due
– How rent should be paid
– What the tenant is responsible for in terms of upkeep and maintenance
– What is allowed on the premises
– What the consequences will be for violating the rules

3. Enforce the Rules

Once you have established the rules and boundaries, it is important to enforce them. If the tenants are not following the agreed upon rules, such as paying rent on time, they need to be held accountable. This might involve sending a warning letter or issuing a late rent fee.

4. Don’t Be Afraid to Take Legal Action

If all else fails and the tenant continues to be uncooperative, you may need to take legal action. This might include filing an eviction notice or taking the tenant to court. But it is best to try to work it out without involving the law if possible, as this can be both expensive and time-consuming.


Setting boundaries with difficult tenants is an important part of being a landlord. By communicating clearly, setting clear rules and boundaries, enforcing the rules, and being willing to take legal action if necessary, you can ensure that your tenants abide by the agreement and that everyone is happy. Remember, if you run into any trouble, don’t hesitate to seek professional help or advice.

How can landlords protect themselves from difficult tenants?

1. Screen tenants carefully: Before renting out any property, be sure to conduct a full, thorough background check to ensure reliable tenants. Ask for references, including work and personal.

2. Have a clear rental agreement: Make sure both parties understand the terms of their rental agreement in order to avoid potential issues down the road.

3. Respond quickly to complaints: Noticing a problem quickly and addressing it promptly could potentially prevent it from escalating into a more serious problem.

4. Invest in rental insurance: Rental insurance can help in the event of damages caused by a tenant, and it can also cover lost rent if a tenant defaults on their payments.

5. Pursue a legal remedy: If a tenant is consistently engaging in activities that are damaging to your property or are causing other tenants to feel uncomfortable, it may be necessary to pursue a legal remedy to end the tenant’s occupancy.

What steps can landlords take to prevent bad tenants from renting their properties?

1. Run Comprehensive Background Checks – Before you enter into a rental contract with a potential tenant, be sure to run a comprehensive background check which includes a review of their credit history, rental history, criminal record, employment records, and references.

2. Collect a Higher Security Deposit – Security deposits are an excellent way to screen for bad tenants because it may indicate someone who is not likely to be able to pay the rent on time or who is looking to “skip out” prematurely. Try to collect a security deposit that is higher than the standard requirement, or ask for last month’s rent up front.

3. Inform Landlord Insurance Agencies – If you’ve had a run-in with a particularly bad tenant, inform your landlord insurance agency of the incident so that they can better assess your coverage needs.

4. Review All Documents Thoroughly – Before signing any rental contracts with a tenant, be sure to review the document thoroughly. Pay close attention to the liability language, tenant rights and responsibilities, and any other details the document may contain.

5. Establish Clear Expectations – Make sure that your tenants are aware of your expectations right from the beginning by providing them with a rental agreement that outlines all of the rules of conduct and responsibilities.

6. Stay Active in Your Properties – As a landlord, it’s important to stay on top of any activity taking place in your rental properties. Stop by periodically to do a walk-through and look for any signs of damage or disrepair. This will help to keep your tenants on their toes and hold them accountable.

What screening measures can landlords use to determine if a tenant is reliable?

1. Credit Check: A thorough credit check can provide insight into a prospective tenant’s financial situation as well as their previous rental and credit history.

2. Income Verification: Landlords should ask prospective tenants to provide proof of current and reliable income to ensure they will be able to pay their rent on time.

3. Request References: Asking for references from previous landlords and employers can help to get an idea of the tenant’s reliability and trustworthiness.

4. Criminal Background Check: A criminal background check can alert landlords to any potentially problematic behaviors in a prospective tenant’s past.

5. Tenant History: Checking tenant history with national and statewide databases to see if a prospective tenant has been evicted before or has failed to pay rent in the past.

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