6 Tips for Handling Difficult Tenants

If you are in the landlord game any length of time it is simply an unavoidable happenstance of renting property — sooner or later you rent to a tenant that is difficult to deal with.  Maybe they are difficult to deal with — or maybe you are difficult to deal with!  Either way, the communication usually comes to a grinding halt, and the situation goes into a tailspin.

Maybe they haven’t paid the rent like they should.  Maybe they are making it super difficult to get into the unit and make repairs.  Maybe they are simply being belligerent.

Fear not.  There are strategies you can employ to extract yourself from the situation with the minimal amount of damage to either party.  Here are some tips to help.

  1. Treat the tenants with respect.  Yes, I know they don’t deserve it.  But aggravating them won’t make the situation any better and get you any closer to your ultimate goal of resolving the situation.  Don’t make the matter worse.  Refuse to participate in any slander or arguments.  Keep it civil.
  2. Be clear.  Don’t be wishy-washy.  Be very careful of what you say and how you say it.  There is an excellent chance that it will get misinterpreted anyway.  So be very clear in your communication.  When you and the tenant agree on something, write it down and show it to them for their approval.  Poor communication is most likely what got you in the mess in the first place.
  3. Agree to disagree.  It is OK.  Let the tenant know early on that you will do everything possible to come to agreeable terms, but if you cannot then that is OK.  Let the tenant know that they may not get everything they want — just like you may not get everything you want.  Prep them that there may have to be some give-and-take.
  4. Be consistent.  Don’t change the terms unless you are compromising on something and getting something in return.  Compromise is a fantastic avenue for resolving differences.  So embrace it.  Just make sure to be consistent.  And rather than try to tackle ALL of the issues in front of you at once, focus on just one.  Get that resolved before moving on to the next.
  5. Try to be as helpful as possible.  Look, the tenants aren’t happy about the situation either.  So try to take your eyes off yourself and place them on helping the tenants.  It doesn’t have to be a win-lose scenario.  You might be able to help them in such a way that it also helps you!  So start from that perspective as that is usually the best solution to a win-win scenario.
  6. Give choices; avoid ultimatums.  No one likes to be painted into a corner.  Give the tenants choices.  For instance, when the tenant owes us money we give them a couple of choices.  They can either pay the late rent and fees within the next couple of weeks on an agreed upon date, or we will proceed with eviction.  We don’t threaten them with eviction — it is just a natural consequence of following through on what we agree to.

House Cleaning made simple

At turnover, when a tenant serves notice to vacate, it is customary for the unit to be cleaned between tenants.  It’s like the Holiday Inn — no one wants to check into a dirty room.  Well, no one wants to rent a dirty home.  But as surprising as it sounds, it is difficult to find a good house cleaner.  Fortunately for us, we found one!

We sat down with Briana Norde, President of Caliber Cleaning in Lynnwood to learn a little more about what separates the wheat from the chaff in the world of cleaning.

FSPM: How long does it typically take to clean a 2/1 unit?

Briana: In a unit with normal build up (i.e. not excessively dirty or extremely clean) it typically takes 6 hours to clean a 2 bed/1 bath unit

FSPM: What things do other cleaners miss that you guys clean?

Briana: The top 3 things I have seen missed by other cleaners, that are included on our standard Turn Over Clean checklist are: cleaning under the refrigerator and under the stove, taking down light fixtures to clean them instead of just dusting them and cleaning both the interior and exterior window tracks.

FSPM: What success practices make your job easier?  i.e. What can landlords do to make your job easier?

Briana: The #1 thing landlords can do to make our job easier is ensure their properties our completely vacant when we go in to clean. Sometimes there are still items left behind and it becomes time consuming trying to decipher what to leave in the home vs. what might be garbage.

FSPM: What is the difference between a professional cleaner like Caliber versus an amateur cleaner like a landlord?  Can’t anyone clean?  (I know the answer, but I’d like you to answer it.)

Briana: Anyone can definitely clean, the difference is the standard and level of clean that is expected. If a landlord expects their property to be maintained and returned to them in a clean manner they need to set the standard high when presenting a new tenant with the property. Having a professional cleaner with experience in Turn Over cleans is very valuable in ensuring that standard is set high. Most tenants will clean the visible items. For example, they’ll run the vacuum, clean the tub/countertops in the Bathroom, and wipe down the counters in the Kitchen. However many won’t think to hand wipe the baseboards, or clean the interior appliances, interior cabinets/drawers, wipe down all the woodwork around the doors, etc.

FSPM: How have you been able to succeed?

Briana: We have been able to succeed with our company in the Turn Over Clean business by creating a proprietary 5 page checklist that we use during every single Turn Over Clean that we complete. In addition to that we have Quality Inspection Managers that come and check the cleaning jobs to ensure nothing was missed. Completing a Turn Clean is very different from cleaning an occupied house and we understand that. We have a training manual dedicated to these types of cleanings and train our crews very thoroughly. This is how we have been able to establish ourselves as one of the premier Turn Over Clean companies in the Pacific Northwest.

We feel both privileged and lucky to have Caliber Cleaning on our side.  It takes such a burden off this process of a rental turnover.

‘Pay It Forward’ Charity Event Announced


Real Estate Co. “Pays it Forward”

April 15, 2016                                                                                      Contact: Peter Nelson

Phone: (206) 992-6637

Email: peter@fullservicepm.com

 Seattle, WA – A Seattle-based property management firm is hoping the goodwill from an upcoming event will inspire other companies to follow suit.  Based on the 2000 movie of the same name, Full Service Property Management announced today the launching of its 2016 “Pay it Forward” charity event.

On Saturday, Aug. 13, employees of this small, family-owned company located in South Seattle will descend on the residence of a local homeowner in the Rainier Valley.  The mission: to clean up the landscaping and make repairs around the exterior of the home.

“We were in a company meeting and one of our team members expressed an interest in getting the company involved in meaningful charity work.  So we came up with this idea!”, said Peter Nelson, President of Full Service Property Management.  “We’ve asked our tenants and a couple of churches in the area if they have anyone they can nominate.  We were looking for someone elderly, handicapped, indigent, or otherwise unable to do the work themselves.”, Nelson added.

The idea emanated from the movie of the same name where the beneficiary of a good deed repays it to others rather than the original beneficiary.  “We have been extremely blessed by this community and we want to give something back”, Nelson said.

The project will involve the company’s employees, friends, and family bringing landscaping tools and supplies to a local homeowner and cleaning up the landscaping around the house and repairing anything broken outside.  All of this will be done for the homeowner free of charge.

“It’s our way of giving back to the community – to Pay it Forward”, Nelson said.  He hopes other people and companies will be inspired to help out or follow suit and have their own ‘Pay it Forward’ day.  Interested parties are encouraged to contact Full Service Property Management directly at (206) 992-6637 or www.fullservicepm.com.