Having to go through the process of dealing with a bad tenant can be one of the most exhausting things a landlord will ever go through, with various overseeing bodies to deal with and many guidelines to carefully follow to ensure that you don’t infringe on the rights of your tenant. With that said, dealing with a truly bad tenant – one who knows the system and how to game it – can very easily make you turn away from the rewarding world of real estate investment forever.
The experts from the Highgate team have some advice on how to deal with these tenants so that you can brush it off and never have to worry about being taken advantage of.
Tenants and real estate maintenance
A situation that often arises with bad tenants who know how to play the game arises when something simple like maintenance or the breakdown of utilities come into play. Something vital to the comfortable living of the tenant will break or malfunction (refrigerator, heating, water, etc.), and the tenant will offer to pay out of pocket for the repair in exchange for a smaller rent charge at the end of the month. While this might sound like a good deal to an inexperienced landlord, this can quickly turn into a history of the tenant finding things to pay for while not giving you the agreed upon amount of monthly rent established in any landlord-tenant rental agreement.
This behaviour can quickly spiral out of control and lead Ontario landlords to the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB), but you have unknowingly set a dangerous precedent for your tenant, who can now present paper trail of them paying for maintenance in exchange for smaller rent payments. This can get the tenant out of paying the full amount of their rent payments, and can spell a whole world of trouble for you as a landlord. It’s important to know when to draw the line with a tenant, especially when it comes to money and maintenance of your properties. You should always contract maintenance work out to companies you trust, or perform the work yourself – letting even the most qualified tenant take care of things should not be an option made available to them.
Staying on top of things
The best way for landlords to avoid situations like the one described above is to stay on top of maintenance work through regular property inspections, especially when dealing with essential utilities like heating and water. This is the most proactive way to ensure that your tenants will be provided with a comfortable place to live, and you will not have to worry about utilities breaking down on them during their stay. If something happens to require maintenance while your property is occupied by a tenant, it’s important to address the problem immediately to avoid any problems with the tenant. This can be done by immediately contacting your regular contracted maintenance worker and scheduling a convenient time for them to stop by the unit for maintenance work or repairs.
Maintenance complaints can be prolonged because the tenants in question often know how to take advantage of the system – in some cases even going directly to the LTB instead of contacting the landlord. This can lead to a lengthy, complicated process with the LTB and a situation where rent payments can no longer be collected because the tenant cannot pay them. Property management companies like Highgate Properties take frequent problems like maintenance and repairs and deal with them immediately by dispatching somebody to the unit and maintaining an open line of communication with the tenant, taking the pressure off landlords and allowing you to address the more important things in your life. We are also proactive about regular maintenance items and keep careful records, so false complaints (such as the hot water heater hasn’t been working for six months) can easily be rebutted by pulling our maintenance records, which in that case would show that the hot water heater was working on our last visit.
The benefits of having a property manager
Contracting a property management company like Highgate Properties to oversee the day-to-day activities of your property can help alleviate the stresses of real estate investment and allow you to put more time and effort into other things in your life. Property management companies know how to deal with bad tenants, and can easily identify a situation where a tenant may be trying to take advantage of a landlord by doing things like offering to perform maintenance work in exchange for lower rent or gaming the system in other subtle ways. Property managers have instant access to skilled tradespeople and perform regular routine inspections to ensure that your properties are functioning as they should be.
For more information on the property management services offered by the friendly and experienced team at Highgate Properties, contact us today.