RSS Feed

How to deal with difficult tenants

Friday, July 08, 2016

Dealing with difficult tenants, or at least, knowing how to handle difficult tenants, is part and parcel of being a landlord. Even if you had meticulously screened your tenant, sometimes when things change people can respond in ways you do not expect.

Who is a difficult tenant? A troublesome tenant is someone who continues to be an issue for you. You may find yourself spending as much time dealing with this particular tenant as you do on all you other tenants combined. They take up your attention and sap your energy and make you feel as though you are working overtime always for the rent you get in return.

Every landlord needs to have a good action plan in place to identify and deal with problematic tenants. You may not have a bad tenant today but the longer you remain a landlord, the more likely you will encounter one someday. Renting is a people business.  Naturally, most issues do not have a clear cut solution. That said, this list of dos and don’ts will help you start working out your own response plan to difficult tenants.


1. Don’t stereotype difficult tenants

Difficult tenants come in all shapes and sizes. You could get one who is the garden variety party-loving-late-paying-always-has-an-excuse or a type-A-slightly-OCD-ring-you-up-EVERYDAY-to-complain tenant. Either day, a difficult tenant is someone who is continuously an issue for you. Do this quick exercise, say the name of each of your tenants out loud. The names that immediately send you into a spiral of mind-frenzy and dread are likely to be of those who are your difficult tenants. Flag these people as those you need to manage thoughtfully and particularly.

Related article: 10 warning signs of a bad tenant

2. Don’t take it personally

This is a business. It has nothing to do with you. Difficult tenants are just part of landlording. When you encounter one, it is important to take the emotions out of the situation from the beginning. Stick to the facts and decide on a course of action accordingly. You are providing a professional and consistent service to all of your tenants, don’t let one bad egg deviate you from your purpose.

Related article: The best piece of advice you will ever receive as a landlord

3. Do gun for a win-win

Vacancy is a dirty word in a landlord’s dictionary. Tempting as it may sometimes be, do treat termination as a last resort. Ask yourself what are the ways for you and your difficult tenant to achieve an amicable and mutually beneficial outcome. Let that be your starting point.

4. Don’t bury your head in the sand

As tedious as it may be for you to deal with difficult tenants, deal with them. Issues that get neglected have a tendency of snowballing into bigger problems somewhere down the track. Don’t get into the habit of kicking the can down the road.

5. Do always go back to the tenancy agreement and the RTA

Your tenancy agreement read alongside the Residential Tenancies Act forms the majority of the terms governing the tenancy. More often than not you will find something instructive in one or both of these documents that will guide you to a solution. Treat these documents as your starting point when dealing with difficult tenants.

6. Do communicate and negotiate

We’ve mentioned before that renting is a people business. The thing about dealing with people is that, unlike machines, pressing button A multiple times will not always give you response B. Understand that a successful relationship of any kind requires constant and open communication. Sit your tenant down and tackle the issue as a team. Be prepared to negotiate for that win-win outcome.

7. Do hold up your end of the bargain

Once you have agreed on the best way to resolve an issue, make sure you hold up your end of the bargain. When issues arise with difficult tenants, treat them as opportunities for you to improve your relationship with this tenant. Don’t give empty promises you do not intend to keep as that is a surefire way to ruin the tenancy.

8. Do learn from it

Once you have successfully deal with an issue, and both you and your tenant had gone away happy, take some time to analyse the entire situation. What brought it on in the first place. Was it something that you could have prevented? There is no point going through all of this trouble if you are not going to learn from it.

Have you had any experience dealing with difficult tenants?


Recent Posts


Holler tenancy services education Landlording cat capital gain insulation rental wof election 2017 Must know sale and purchas inspection short-term rental television TCIT rental market privacy property cycle Guest blog twg report CCC financial advisers act bond holiday house positive cash flow unitary plan Tribunal case study watercare Jeff Bezos Kris Pedersen Mortgages and Insurance DTI tenancy tribunal advice ask an expert wealth creation renovation subdivision investor rent arrears Editor's Choice heater fixed-term tenancy robert kiyosaki principal and interest government Standards New Zealand Investor story property management debt enforcement buying rta reform extractor fan relationship meth partners maintenance sale and purchase cgt RBNZ Level 4 meth contamination HSWA landlord CoreLogic boarding house business nzpif mindset airbnb data security property maintenance Q&A yield rent increase parry v inglis personal growth skill shortage income warren buffett rent wins banking Question and answer interest rates housing bubble legal trademe recycling equity letting fee market off the plan scotney williams investment strategy RTAA 2019 lvr clnz minor dwelling insurance structure winz shower dome negotiation return tax auckland LIM covid-19 property value initio ird building HHS mortgage heating beginner investor speculator first home buying p lab ocr development damage interest only tenant cash-flow house prices Must knows productivity ventilation Market report Property (Relationships) Act auckland council trust khh warm up new zealand termination Case study equity property anz How to reserve bank worksafe housing affordability market rent sublease bad tenant smoke alarm management Sponsored post Gluckman trespass buyer's agent bond form gluckman report finance tenancy issues water bill rta letting Investment tip ring-fencing buying rules HHGA asbestos


Introducing Our Partners
Principal Sponsor - Kris Pedersen Mortgages & Insurance logo Gold Sponsor - Barfoot & Thompson logo Gold Sponsor - CoreLogic logo Property Apprentice logo Keith Hay Homes logo The Insulation Warehouse logo The Renovation Team logo The New Zealand Property Investors' Federation logo
09 360 2376

The Tenancy Practice Service and TPS Credit Control work closely with the Auckland Property Investors' Association. Our vision of bringing helpful resources, documents and high quality services to Auckland Property Investors and Property Managers is shared by APIA, so its a partnership that works well. 

The Auckland Property Investors' Association is a great organisation for those who want access to advice and information from a range of industry experts and partners. 

Mathieu Holt- Managing Director, The Tenancy Practice Service & TPS Credit Control
Through the Association I found the channels and methods to fund the purchase of property I never dreamed about. Grant Brown

All round it has been one of those things Neil and I felt was really worthwhile belonging to. We have learned so much it has just built our confidence in what we are doing.

Janice Bieleski
I read two articles in the monthly magazine that saved me over $5,000. That is my membership fee for the next 26 years and I am sure I will learn a whole lot more! John Duncan
Fantastic organisation. The networking opportunities are brilliant and provide us with information and opportunities that cannot be obtained anywhere else. We learn something new at every meeting and we've been in this game for nearly 20 years. Pauline and Gyanen Kumar

I find the information obtained from various APIA meetings very useful in guiding my own property investment and rental management.  I also enjoy the networking opportunities with like-minded investors.  I am inspired by other investors’ success and find the more experiences and knowledge that I share with others, the more confident I become.  

Thanks to all APIA event organizers and administrators for your brilliant work. 

Stella Shao

I like talking to people and learning from their experience because it gives me the confidence to invest well. I think it is a knowledge thing. I now know I am doing things the right way.

Stephen Weatherall

My APIA membership has become a total success.

Every time I attend a monthly or regional meeting I come away with so many useful and positive tips that have added value to my property investments and management.

Not only that, the website is a great place for practical advice and useful information. It has now evolved into an important resource for my business.

Talk about value for money! The discounts I have been getting at Bunnings when I present my APIA membership card have more than paid for my annual subscription!

Tim Duffett, Plan A Investments Limited